Branding, Marketing, and Your Career in Software Engineering
Everyone is familiar with brands. If you say Apple, Levi, BMW, or Coca-Cola, the vast majority of Americans will recognize the company's logo and will instantly associate it with a specific brand identity. Apple was able to promote new iPods with only a dancing silhouette, 1-2 words, and their logo. They were successful because they built a brand around their iPods as THE hip, must-have music player that worked better than any other device. In fact, iPods were so popular, no one could unseat them as the number one portable music player until Apple's own iPhone came out.
So, what does brand and product marketing have to do with your future career in software engineering?
Surprisingly more than you may think.
Everyone, whether they realize it or not, has a personal brand. Just like a corporate brand, your brand is the instinctual, emotional response that people have to your personality, your work, and everything that surrounds you. It can be daunting, but thinking about your personal brand now can do amazing things for your future career.
Once you get through your bootcamp or coding school, you'll start applying to and interviewing for jobs. You're more likely to get an offer if you demonstrate during your interview that you are knowledgeable and personable, and that you can communicate complex ideas clearly and succinctly. But before you even get to the interview, your resume will be presented to hiring managers who might Google your name to see if they can find out more about you. What do you think are the best things that hiring managers could find when they search for you?
If you answered well-written content on blogs, friendly conversations with other programmers on Twitter, and a robust LinkedIn page, you're right. Developing this online presence is a core part of the Holberton curriculum, but all aspiring software engineers can use the same strategy to get more interviews.
Let's recap the positive things you can do to showcase your brand:
- Contribute thoughtful comments to blogs and forums, etc.
- Engage in friendly conversations with other professionals on social media
- Build a strong LinkedIn profile
Understanding your brand
Back to brand: you should take a little time to understand yours. Try to identify what makes you special to an employer:
- Are you a speedy learner who can quickly pick up, digest, execute, and teach others about new technologies?
- Or are you a natural leader who can help bring out the best in your teammates?
- If neither, What is the simplest, clearest way to describe your strengths?
From there, find your passion and distill it down to the simplest, shortest statement. For example, you could say "I learn things quickly and help others learn quickly" or "I bring out the best in my teammates." Make this statement your "Brand Promise."
Next, start increasing your visibility. If you're not on Twitter or LinkedIn, sign up for both. After that, start finding people who are leaders in the field that you want to be in, and follow them. Connect on social media with other students from your cohort to talk through coding problems. Utilize your school projects to publicize examples of your work, your development, and how you're developing your career skills. Write articles and blog posts sharing the tips and tricks you learn: besides helping your career, you might help another student understand a problem in a way that no one else could.
Another recap! Increase your visibility by:
- Joining Twitter & LinkedIn
- Following leaders in the field
- Connecting with professionals in your cohort and engaging with them
- Troubleshooting your coding issues, and help others with theirs!
- Showcasing your school projects and work examples
- Sharing articles and blogs with tips you've learned in class
As you do this, use your personal "Brand Promise" as a guide. If you know you thrive by demonstrating how well you learn, develop, and take on new skills, proudly share your accomplishments. If you want to show how well you can lead and work with a team, highlight your team accomplishments and projects. Just like the world's top companies, keep your brand focused and apply it where you can. Use this focus to tailor your LinkedIn, guide how you communicate on Twitter and how you share your knowledge with the early-career software engineers that will follow you.
A solid "Brand Promise" helps you stay on message, communicate on the strengths you can deliver, and tailors your message to the market (In this instance, your "market" is hiring managers) you want to reach.
How Holberton School can help!
At Holberton School and as part of our Full-Stack software engineering curriculum, we encourage our students to tweet with their peers, engage with potential mentors on social media, and write content and helpful articles specifically to help our students develop their personal brand. With personal brand growth hand-in-hand with a strong software engineering program, our students have seen incredible successes when securing their first employment opportunity after Holberton School.