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How To Brand Yourself When Switching Careers Into Software Development

25 March, 2019

A few weeks ago, I received a question from a reader of my developer career newsletter about how to position or brand oneself when switching careers into becoming a software developer:

"I've read your post about branding for online presence as Developer on Dev.to 💪 great read!

May I ask your recommendation?

I assume your post is intended for Developers who already working as professionals.

And for code newbies who are a complete beginner — just newly starting learning to code and wants to write a blog (either self hosted, or using Dev .to / Medium), how can we 'brand' ourselves while we are transitioning from non-tech field into software engineering?"

Love it - great question!

Non-Technical Backgrounds

Many of you guys/gals reading this are probably already developers - but I'm sure many of you actually have a "past-life" before becoming a developer.

As an example, I only started really coding at around 25 years of age when I went back to college to learn how to code!

I had used computers during my late teens and was playing around with Unix machines and some bash scripts - but nothing more than that.

My background is actually in music and philosophy 🤔.

Before starting to code, I was planning on completing my studies... until I decided that spending another 7 years getting a doctorate just wasn't worth the time, the money, etc.

So I had to think about what other possible careers would be available that:

  • Didn't require tons of schooling
  • I was passionate about
  • Was available to study where I lived
  • Paid well in general

That happened to be programming!

Short Answer

Here's my answer to the question that was posed:

Position/brand yourself as someone who is transitioning careers into software development.

Hmm....🤔

Long Answer

Here's a great example I've been seeing on LinkedIn - Alex Ortiz.

He's been blogging about his journey of trying to get into more technical/dev positions lately - as a non-developer.

I think this is a fantastic approach.

Tactics

As you are learning to make the switch, you can make your journey public by:

  • Blogging
  • Creating short video updates every now and again
  • Tweet smaller bite-sized updates about what you are learning, what's difficult, what's easy, etc.

By branding yourself as someone that's - let say - more of a traditional marketer (if that's your field) who is switching to a dev career, you can market yourself as just that: what you are!

Branding after-all is simply all about your reputation - are you intelligent? Passionate? Helpful? Trustworthy? Authentic? Honest? Who do you help?

The key is to build a community and reputation around who you are, where you've been and where you are going.

Note: A long-term approach should actually revolve around where other people are and where you can get them. But for now, starting out, focusing on your own journey is a natural and great way to do this.

People who are either going through the same process or considering making a carer switch to becoming a developer will DEVOUR your content!

There are so many people that are doing this - switching from non-developer roles to learning and starting a career as a software dev. I think that's one of the reasons why boot camps are so popular.

I know from speaking with one of the major boot camps in the US that they have a high percentage of students who are pivoting from a previous career track.

The Next Level

If you are really serious about building a reputation and trying to help others who are looking to make this switch, you could also start an email newsletter.

Weekly or bi-weekly send updates about your journey, tips or even interview other people who have successfully made the same type of transition.

Eventually, you could self-publish a book to this market too. You'll already have a following that wants to consume your content!

Some Final Thoughts

Finally, most companies are, as a requirement, looking for skilled developers.

But the people who end up getting the jobs are those who can demonstrate their worth to a potential company. Having a good reputation and a following can really help you to do this and stand-out.

You'll gain so many more connections this way and will be in a great place to enter the field - if you've built a following around your journey!


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