Tech is an intimidating industry to break into—no matter how confident you are about your skillset. If you're nervous about impressing interviewers right out of the HBO series Silicon Valley, you're not alone.
But the New Year is the perfect time to develop a strategy that aligns with your goals. A dream job in tech is completely attainable if you think smart and leverage a unique personal brand.
There are a ton of different ways to land your ideal role, but they all start with positioning an online brand and building a strategic network. Here's how to get started, so you can begin 2018 on a tech career path you love.
Build Your Online Presence
You want to show recruiters and hiring managers that you can navigate the digital world from the get-go. To do that, you need to develop a compelling online presence that aligns with your goals before you apply for jobs in tech.
Start with a simple website that's professional and features your skillset. Instead of telling companies what you offer, show them through meaningful examples that offer insights into your strengths. For example, if you enjoy photography as a hobby and helped a friend out with marketing for her blog, you could write: "I developed a digital strategy and led photography for an emerging brand in Detroit." Tweak experiences to emphasize your potential and appeal to tech employers. And if your site needs a refresh, or you're looking for a clean way to show off your skills, check out Squarespace's new resume template "Pursuit" as a starting point.
Whatever your dream job, start a blog to showcase your expertise. Write about industry topics to help get your brand out into the world. There's so much going on in tech, topics are endless: bitcoin, big data, machine learning. Pick topics that align with the position you want and don't be afraid to make your blog appeal to a niche sector in tech. It's a great way to bring attention to your talents while carving out a space for yourself in a new field.
Top off the site with an about page that describes who you are and what you can contribute to a tech company. Be specific. Do you code, are you an algorithm master, or infographics dynamo? Remember, this site can help you land a job—so build it with your dream job in mind.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
If a website is your online home, social media channels are how you meet people. Set up accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other channels where your ideal employers have a significant presence. Don't overlook channels where tech enthusiasts can be found—think Reddit, Stack Overflow, and GitHub, to name a few.
If you already have personal accounts (which you probably do), think about tweaking them to align with your professional image. Change the bio to match your goals and make sure the photo looks professional. And chances are you already have at least a small following, so you're not starting from scratch.
Next, contribute to discussions about your chosen career path. You can share articles that inspire you, add to online conversations, and connect with people you admire. In tech, the industry is always changing—stay on top of the latest trends, and make thoughtful commentary.
But, don't let new contacts stay solely in the world of social media. Once you've interacted with someone a few times, shoot them an email or a direct message. Be professional and briefly explain in a few sentences that you're trying to break into the field, followed by a specific request.
This is where the personal brand you've built comes in handy. Make sure your email signature has a link to your site, then if your contact clicks on the link, they can quickly learn about your background and interest in the industry.
Tap into Online Networks
You can also look for online groups that match your goals. Alumni networks are an awesome opportunity to connect with people who already have thriving careers in tech. A quick visit to your alma mater's website can point you in the right direction. If you're a woman, a person of color, or identify as LGBTQ, you can tap into identity-specific communities that can help you navigate the job market.
Even if you're an introvert and dread networking, keep in mind that going to tech events with a handful of business cards can have a long-term impact. Use Moo to make affordable business cards that fit the visual branding of your website.
Being prepared will help ease any nerves, so pick an event on a topic you're interested in and read up on it beforehand. It'll be easier to connect, and tech-nerd out with others, if you have relevant talking points and knowledge. And here's a trick: go into an event thinking you already have your dream job. As corny as it sounds, people believe in you if you believe in yourself. So, talk about your personal brand with confidence.
Once you start leveraging a personal brand and a strong network, you may be surprised by other people's generosity. People are usually eager to talk about their own experiences and to lend a hand when approached by someone with a strong personal brand and shared interests.
So, once you've finished ringing in the New Year, start working on your website and you'll land your dream tech job in no time!