How To Jumpstart your Web Development Career
Finding a job in the tech world shouldn’t be difficult considering today’s market demand. However, if you are a self-driven person, and reading this blog post means that you are, there are a few simple steps you can take to improve your image and have it better reflect who you are and what you are passionate about. I am making the assumption that you are a self-driven person because you took the time to look into the interwebs, find this blog post and read it, so you can improve your selling and marketing skills, that is enough proof for me.
I said “selling and marketing [yourself]” and I’m sure chills run down your spine. But let’s face it, we are selling ourselves out there in the market and the market needs to know a few things about us to make an assessment. Us geeks are introverts by nature, and getting out of our comfort zone to “sell ourselves” makes us feel uneasy. The best advice I can give on that is to approach this as part of your job as a professional, rather than as a “self-promotion “. The market doesn’t care if you snowboard or burn yourself in RPG games or do calisthenics. It does care though to see if you can articulate concepts, know your stuff and where your expertise lies.
You are a Company
As a professional in the tech industry, you need to view your career and self as a business, as a company. And all companies have the same following divisions:
Let’s quickly go through them and see how they apply to you:
Where are you today? Where were you yesterday? Where do you want to be tomorrow? Simple, ha? Yet of paramount importance when making career choices and critical decisions about your professional life. The “NOs” you say are equally, if not more, important that the “YESes”.
That’s what we’ll dive into this blog post, how do you market and position yourself?
The act of finding a job, interviewing and networking is selling.
How you fare with your finances, what income do you expect, what expenses do you have to pay? Taxes, unpredictables, you need to have at least a loose grasp on these concepts so as you don’t end up with surprises.
Your equipment to deliver your work, your laptop, your OS, your editors, your tooling, are they all in tip-top shape?
For us, operations are the act of doing our job, writing code, consulting, advising.
You are a Brand
You, as a professional, are a brand, you have a name and you have multiple layers of networks up to the general public. The way you are perceived is basically how your brand is perceived and all and any of your actions contribute to that perception. In Marketing 101 you learn that a brand needs to have a few core attributes:
- Be consistent
- Project a single, clear message
- Represent the positioning of the brand
What this means in our case is a few simple touchpoints on our public image…
Create your brand
Everyone is carrying their teen-years baggage into the interwebs, hotmail emails, gamer-style nicknames on twitter, embarrassing email address. There is no need to carry those into your professional branding. Take a pause, and find your brand:
So as you see, you have a brand-name (your handle) and a logo (your profile photo). The brand-name, you have to pick and stick with it, forever. Your logo should change when your strategic positioning changes. That is, you are making a significant shift in the course of your career (transitioning to being Lead, being a founder, gardener).
Enforce your brand
Your brand is only as strong as you make it out to be. In such a high-speed world you only get one chance to make an impression and carve your brand into your audience’s subconscious, which is the goal here. So you have way better chances of your name (or handle) sticking out the more consistent you are vs diluting your brand. Let me illustrate this with an example, here is my online identity:
- Homepage: http://thanpol.as
- LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/thanpolas
- Twitter: @thanpolas
- Skype: @thanpolas
- Github: @thanpolas
- email: email@example.com
- URL Shortener: http://than.pol.as/Vu05
Each case is unique and there can be prior work that should not be thrown out, however, it’s all a matter of approach, everything can be wrapped under your [new and branded] homepage which will act as your single point of reference.
Your Personal Website
Your personal website is the nexus where all your professional internet presence congregates. It should be easily memorable and relatively easy to write down. If you don’t already own your personal, branded, domain name go buy it today. That’s the first and only step you have to do now. Then, like the nature of the web is, iteratively, you should get started on creating the repo on GitHub and publishing your first front page, a single page that at the very least needs to have:
- Your full name
- Your photograph (logo)
- Links to LinkedIn, Twitter, Github
- Your email
- A short statement about who you are or, more importantly, what you do
And following afterward you should be adding:
- An About page
- With a more detailed profile of yours
- All your professional interwebs links
- A showcase of your portfolio
- A very short selection for the frontpage
- A more detailed / expanded dedicated page
- A showcase of your speaking, if you do that
- A Blog
- When starting it, commit to writing at least 10 blog posts in a periodic manner
- Your particular focus
- robots, IoT, flying models…
- Open sourcing your website so as to demonstrate your skills
- It is a showcase on itself
- (This goes against me now as I’ve started mine a few years ago and it’d look funny by today’s standards, but hey…)
It’s not that hard really but I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that most developers don’t have a professional personal website. But hey, if you’ve reached this point in reading you are a self-driven one so we’re good ;).
Like any other product, you need to distribute yourself. The amount of which you will be doing that has a strong correlation to what opportunities will be available to you.
Open Source is the best and most certain way to produce results in more than one aspects. Apart from the fact that people can get to know you from your work and contributions, you also train yourself and develop new disciplines as to the way you operate, document and test software.
Reddit, Twitter, StackOverflow, GH Issues, blog posts, stay on top of the stream and jump in whenever you can help. This, naturally, can only have a snowballing effect so you need to keep at it for long periods to have any significant impact on your branding.
Events & Hackathons
Attend meetups and go to hackathons, make friends and keep contact. These connections are priceless, not only can they lead to a direct hire but they will educate and inform you as to the way of the land, how the game is played and what are the local opportunities.
It’s never too early and never too late to become a speaker. Speaking/presenting is an acquired skill and there is nothing to be ashamed of for your first appearances. I can clearly remember my first talks, not only did I not make any sense but even my deck was a mess. Start from small meetups and keep at it, eventually, you get better and better.
You can do it
The tech world can be cruel at the beginning but it gets more rewarding the more you dive into it. We are bound to fail and make mistakes, multiple times, at all points in our career, more so when we are starting up. This is the norm and yet we persist. So why let all this effort go to waste in an unfocused message and an invisible presence?
P.S.: Thinking of pivoting to an engineer life-coach career, let me know in the comments if you’d buy my audio-book for $19.99blog comments powered by Disqus