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Whether by posting on Facebook, lurking around LinkedIn, broadcasting on Twitter or double-tapping on Instagram, we all use social media in one form or another. Some of us have even become social media power users and have learned to effectively use these channels to boost our careers.
Others have not and, while that’s not necessarily an issue for some industries, working in IT and not understanding common sense social media etiquette, let alone how to turn it into a tool to further our careers, is an issue. Well, folks, today we’re looking at a few things you can do to sort this issue for yourself.
Polish your profiles
This might sound like an old tune marketers keep fiddling but a quick browse through LinkedIn will show just how poorly the message is sinking in. People tend to start dusting off their resumes when they’re actively looking for a job but, as with any other digital initiative, if you want something to pay off tomorrow, you should have started working on it last week.
In other words, if you’re only taking care of your professional profiles so long as you’re looking for another position, you’re not just losing a lot of precious time but you probably will be missing out on potential opportunities.
You know how customers are looking for products online when they want to shop rather than when the brand wants to sell? Well recruiters and clients are no different. They look for potential hires or collaborators when they need them, not when you’re ready to be hired. So you don’t just have to set up a good profile but maintain it as well. Constantly.
Break through stereotypes
From living-in-mom’s-basement recluses and misunderstood artists to semi-autistic geniuses and hygienically challenged creeps, there are a lot of stereotypes surrounding IT professionals. The more removed from these actual people we are, the more we tend to drift towards these stereotypes.
As a digital marketer, I’ve been around designers, developers, and programmers of all shapes and sizes my entire career. Some are quirky, some are funny, some are serious, some are creative and some are just down-right weird. Just like every other group. Personally, I find it tremendously irritating when recruiters or people who, in theory, should know better, blanket IT professionals, as a group, with stereotypes instead of trying to understand and relate to them. After all, these are the people you’re targeting with your product – namely, your brand.
On the flip side, though, this represents a really good opportunity for you, as a designer or developer, to stand out. Unrealistically, of course, potential clients and recruiters expect a certain personality type to go with your chosen profession. This means you can differentiate your resume and portfolio by adding more of who you are outside work, the things you’re passionate about, how you interact with people, etc. Most of all, you can get people behind your own working principles, the standards you’re holding yourself too, not just pure skill. And since you’re doing this on social media, you don’t have to talk the talk, you can walk the walk.
Learn to communicate
As an industry, IT is moving faster than a shopaholic speeding through a mall on Black Friday so a lot of approaches and best practices are defined on the go. You’ll find more in tutorials and talks than in books, nowadays, making the engagement with very experienced, hands-on professionals extremely valuable.
Unlike 20 years ago when you had to enroll in a course, sit through a class and maybe have an opportunity to pick someone’s brain afterwards, today, it’s all happening now, in real time, through digital and social media.
If you have a question about machine learning, whether you’re a developer or you’re selling the stuff to others, all you need to do is pick an authority in the matter and ask. Social media enables direct communication with the tech-savvy professionals we look up to, as well as potential business partners but the trick is to communicate.
Communicating, however, means starting conversations, by posting content yourself, and engaging in conversations, when we comment on other people’s content. So we need to pay just as much attention to what others are posting as we do to our own stuff.
Establishing a strong professional presence online isn’t just about publishing a spiffing CV. You need to think about why you, as a professional are worth hiring, something that shouldn’t be completely out of this world for you since, along with salary expectations, it’s a question that comes up in every single interview.
Building a personal brand is about defining why people would want to work with you and then communicating it to the world. It means taking things like my work is always creative and building a portfolio full of nifty and creative examples of your work.
But don’t stop there. Take each item of that portfolio and post it on social media with links directing back to the original website or blog. Take it one step further and define a visual identity that screams creative and reuse it wherever you are online so in time, people won’t even have to look at the name to recognise you and your work, turning not your skills but you into an asset for the brands you would want to work with.
The Bottom Line
IT is an extremely competitive industry and professionals looking to work on cool projects, with highly-skilled people and to have a significant influence on a project’s outcome need to build trust with potential employers, peers, as well as potential clients.
Achieving this, however, won’t happen just by listing skills in a boring LinkedIn profile. As IT professionals, we understand what technology can do, more than most, and the ability to leverage social media to showcase our skills and potential is becoming the real differentiator within the industry.