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Why Engineers Need to Embrace Personal Branding Now More Than Ever

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Getty Images/Geber86

Whether you’re a fresh graduate with a sparkly new B.S. in engineering or a seasoned pro with 15+ years of experience, you’re headed toward more competition when it comes to your next career opportunity. Enrollment in engineering programs and the number of engineering degrees awarded at all levels have been steadily increasing for years.

The good news is that while there are more engineers on the job market, there’s still a healthy demand for them—especially when it comes to specific niches. But in the more common fields, like UX or front-end development, you’ll want to make sure you stand out from the pack.

So how, exactly, do you do that?

Turns out, it’s not just about the skills and experience you have (although that’s obviously important)—it’s also about how you showcase them to employers. Or, in other words, how you embrace your personal brand.

In my last role, I worked in the marketing department of a global staffing firm with brands focused exclusively on engineering and IT. Why does that matter to you? I spent a lot of time researching and writing about how candidates can land their next gig, often through personal branding efforts. And now, grasshoppers, I shall bestow that knowledge upon you.

Steps to a Stellar Personal Brand

In decades past, brands were just for insurance, beer, and technology companies, but guess what? You get to be a brand now. And that comes with benefits. Not only will you have a better understanding of who you are and how you shine as a professional, but you may just have companies knocking down your door—er, bombarding your LinkedIn InMail—with new opportunities.

1. Start With Personal Reflection

Consider your strengths. What are you known for around your office? Are you a great collaborator? An innovator? Every project’s master planner? Do you have any distinct specialties? Ask your peers what comes to mind when they think of you.

Discover and distill what makes you unique from other engineers, and write it down. This, in short, is your brand identity. Ideally, it should not only be true, but also relevant to the current needs of the companies you’d like to work for. Oh, and it must be demonstrable, which leads us to…

2. Identify Avenues to Present Your Brand

It’s not enough just to have a brand identity on paper. You must show employers that you have a special ability or distinctive outlook.

Take LinkedIn as an example. Simply including your job title on your profile doesn’t show you’re a genius when it comes to product development and understanding customers’ needs. Instead, you’ll want to incorporate that strength into your summary or experience section—think, writing about a successful project and the role you played in it. Bonus points if a colleague writes a recommendation you on your profile that corroborates your brand.

Beyond LinkedIn, here are a few other strong ways to promote your brand:

  • Speak: Seek out opportunities to speak at industry events or educational forums that relate to your expertise and align with your brand.
  • Write: If you like to write, consider starting your own blog to share your thoughts on your field. Not up for the commitment of a blog? Reach out to sites that already have a following and pitch them a few ideas for a guest post.
  • Network: Of course, if you’re doing all the above, this will come naturally, but you can also attend industry conferences, trainings, and meet-ups to connect with others in your world. In addition, you can build relationships online, on Twitter, Quora, and focused LinkedIn groups.

3. Ensure Your Brand is Clear, Consistent, and Clean

No matter what you’re doing, you want to make sure that your brand comes through loud and clear on all channels—so whether someone sees you sharing a tweet or speaking in person, they connect you with your desired message.

How? Across your professional social media channels, write similar bios that highlight your main brand attributes, and use the same profile picture so people can connect that they’re all yours.

Then, bring everything together by building a personal website. Obviously, this is a great way to show off your technical skills, but it also lets you own your brand messaging through your layout and features, your bio, and a portfolio of your work and results. Don’t forget to link to all your social profiles from your website and vice versa.

Finally, if you haven’t already, Google yourself and make sure all the results are ones that help your message, not hurt it. A national study The Muse conducted found that 85 percent of hiring managers solidify their decision to hire someone based on positive Google results and 70 percent solidify their decision not to hire based on negative ones.

While it may seem like a lot, you’ll not only gain a “brand,” but a refreshed confidence, too. And this will make you more noticeable and attractive to the many employers looking for someone like you. With a clear personal brand, you’re more likely to land a role; and not just any role, but one that truly matches your strengths and outlook.