Software Developers: How To Build Your Valuable Personal Brand
As a software developer, your personal brand is important when looking to move on to your next company. You want hiring managers in the development space to perceive you not only as a competent engineer but also as an innovative thought leader. Making that happen means cultivating a personal brand highlighting your value to potential employers.
Here are the three main areas to focus on when polishing your brand.
Employers can learn about you in many ways, but the best tool is still your resume. The basics remain the same whether paper-based or digital; make it clean and legible, easy to read and free of any typos. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 58 percent of resumes contain typos. One trick to avoid them is to proofread your resume from the bottom up.
When it comes to content, employers are looking for problem-solving ability, versatility and tangible results. Highlight your experience with various languages and platforms. Describe any complex challenges you may have tackled and how you resolved them. Include measurable results wherever possible. How much faster did an application run? How many more users were able to access it? What was the dollar benefit to the company? Clearly define what you’ve accomplished, and don’t leave it to the imagination.
It’s important to include side projects you’ve worked on. Employers will look at those to see if you’re willing to go beyond the daily grind to learn new things and play with new languages. Side projects are one of the best ways to show you have a passion for developing and don’t just look at it as an occupation.
LinkedIn is considered your online resume, so build your profile using your written resume as the base. Remember it’s a living, breathing document so you should always be looking to refresh as you take on and succeed in different roles or projects. It’s a great platform for communicating anything you want to share with the world.
Beyond that, make sure you have a strong presence on sites like GitHub and Stack Overflow. Employers and recruiters visit these sites when looking for developers. This is where the open source community comes together to work on projects, showcase work they’ve been doing and share code with each other. Many times vice presidents, directors of engineering, potential employers and other engineers are there contributing to projects for themselves or for their companies. Managers can go there to see in what types of projects potential employees are engaged. It’s an ideal place to showcase your talent.
One area developers may overlook when thinking about their personal brand is live interaction. The best mechanism for this is meetups, hackathons and other similar events. Thought leaders in the tech space are founding members of meetups for Java and Ruby for example. It’s also a good idea to attend conferences for various language development communities. Consider applying to lead breakout sessions or to speak at main stage events.
The thought of public speaking terrifies many people. One way to overcome the fear is to continually push yourself to speak up more in daily stand-ups and meetings. Ask and take on leadership of projects where you’ll need to speak more. Another good way to gain confidence and speaking skills is to join a local chapter of Toastmasters International or your area business association or chamber of commerce. Although speaking up may stretch you out of your comfort zone, the effort will be well worth it.
Building your personal brand is vitally important to advancing your career as a developer. Get visible in the tech community by becoming an active thought leader and contributor. Doing so will go a long way to helping you get the position you want.