Brand Yourself

Last night at the Nashville .NET User Group we ended the evening with a terrific discussion on careers. We had a great panel of developers, entrepreneurs, and recruiters. It was nice to hear the transparency between developers and recruiters. Here are some quick highlights:

  • Create a LinkedIn profile.
  • Publish an open source project.
  • Publish a blog.
  • Create a StackOverflow profile and build some points.
  • Create a Careers profile at StackOverflow.
  • Use social media, such as Twitter.
  • Build relationships with recruiters, and interview them.
  • Attend user groups and regional developer conferences.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Be a mentor.

In my opinion, your most important career goal should be to establish a personal brand. Your brand is anything that gives others an impression about you. Open source projects, blogs, social media, and networking are all opportunities where you can establish credibility and a good reputation. You also can't underestimate the impact of your attitude,  the way you treat others, or even the way you dress. There's something to be said for personal hygiene, too...

Your brand can open doors, regardless of how many years experience you may have. Whether you are fresh out of school, or looking to change careers, getting a job in today's market with little on-the-job experience can be very difficult. The recruiters on the panel agreed three years is the minimum most employers are looking for. However, I have seen first-hand how a person's passionate pursuit of learning and establishing a brand led to great opportunities.

  • Demonstrate your expertise.
  • Demonstrate your passion for learning.
  • Demonstrate. You. Are. Awesome.

Your reputation is your most valuable asset. The kind of employer (or client) you really want to work with will care enough to seek and discover your reputation. Supply the world with plenty of evidence.

Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. -- Proverbs 22:1 (NLT)

Last, for those that desire to start their own business: