Personal Branding 3.0: The Latest Trends for Technology Pros

Most tech pros recognize the career benefits and advantages of having a powerful brand. What you may not realize is that your marketing message can get stale or stop working altogether if you’re not keeping up with the trends.
“Focusing your value proposition on technical skills and the corporate mindset of CV reviewers used to be sufficient,” explained Kimberley Barker, a reputation management expert and academic librarian for Digital Life at the University of Virginia.

“Social media has blurred the lines between our professional and personal lives,” she added. “To pass muster today, your brand must also convey your technical passions and interests.”

Since having an up-to-date brand can differentiate you from your peers and increase your visibility and presence with employers, here’s a look at what you need to move, add or change in your next update.

In: Authenticity
Out: Stereotypes

Whether a recruiter initially spots your CV on a job board or finds your profile online, he or she is going to dig further to see if your brand is honest and accurately portrays your skills and abilities.

You’re bound to raise a red flag unless your narrative matches your experience level, peer recommendations or your code reviewing activity. Instead of using stereotypes to describe yourself and your work, selecting two or three unique adjectives that suit your situation and strengths will ensure that your brand has integrity.

“Authenticity comes from personal awareness and honesty,” Barker explained.

For instance, don’t claim to be proficient with a programming language you hardly know or call yourself a rock star or expert if it’s not true.

You’re better off emphasizing your willingness and ability to learn if you’re a beginner or repeating what other people say about you on social media, so there’s no contradictions between your marketing message and the reality of what you can deliver.

In: Relatability
Out: Impersonal Approach

Hiring managers are people too. And because they’re drawn to real, authentic people, including a few personal facts about your hobbies, favorite side projects or technical passions can differentiate your brand. Feel free to let your personality shine through, but remember to observe the 80/20 ratio when sharing professional and personal information to ensure that you don’t go to far.

 In: Evidence-Based Value Propositions
Out: Meaningless Superlatives

Overusing superlatives such as awesome, amazing or fantastic to demonstrate your unique value or impact can put off a potential employer. They’re so commonplace, they’ve become filler or marketing hype explained Matt Craven, managing director for The CV and Interview Advisors.

“So many people refer to themselves as ‘experts’ that there’s no way to tell if someone is good, bad or somewhere in between,” Craven said.

Including a few fact-laden career highlights in the profile section of your CV, or some mini case studies to show what you bring to the table, is much more powerful because it provides substance and lets a hiring manager reach their own conclusions about the value you offer.

To build support for a tech pro’s branding campaign, Craven has replaced many of the non-specific bullet points in the CVs he creates, with a minimum of three STAR-formatted mini case studies.

“They provide context for accomplishments, so they’re more effective and easier to understand,” he said.

Plus, success vignettes are an effective marketing tool for reinforcing your brand. Advance your theme by posting them online and sharing them with hiring managers during interviews.

In: Multimedia Marketing
Out: Text Only

Sharing valuable content via online videos or Ted Talks, photos, charts, graphs and podcasts is a powerful way to demonstrate your thought leadership and build deeper connections with potential employers and industry influencers. Of course you still need a CV, but using the right mix of multimedia makes your story more engaging and brings your brand to life.

 In: Social Proof
Out: Failing to Provide Endorsements

There is no better way to cultivate your brand than to have credible colleagues and recognized tech leaders give you recommendations and endorsements on social media. Without social proof, your brand lacks authenticity.

“Social reassurance has become a must-have marketing tool for professionals,” Craven noted.

So much so, that he has incorporated the popular social media practice into each CV he creates.

 “Stating that ‘references are available upon request’ is out,” he said. “Including one or two credible, well-written endorsements at the end of your CV is in.”

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