Don’t Be Afraid To Promote Yourself
By Terence Eden
I am the only Terence I know. I sometimes envy the Joes, Davids, and Alexs - they can always find someone who shares their name. But us Terences must carve a lonely road. Thanks Mum and Dad …
Just after graduating, I discovered the power of having a unique name. I was preparing for a job interview and I wanted to find a piece of code that I’d written and shared online. Rather unthinkingly, I typed “Terence Eden” in AltaVista (yes, I am that old) and gazed in horror at what I saw.
Row after row of results about a Terence Eden who wasn’t me!
The Power of Personal SEO
Major Terence Eden was the 8th Baron Auckland. He was born in 1892, educated at Eton, fought in both World Wars, and died in 1957. I’m sure he was a fine man - but he wasn’t trying to get a job in the tech industry and I was!
I realised that anyone receiving my CV was going to search the Internet to see if they could find out more about me. I wanted them to find evidence of my ability to code, to write, to argue eloquently, to learn, to help, and to solve problems. I didn’t want them to read about the 8th Baron Auckland!
So, I started the relatively painless process of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for my name. The aim was simple:
- Search for “Terence Eden”
- Find me
- Be impressed
I’m not going to tell you how to set yourself up on LinkedIn and Twitter. I’m going to show you the two most powerful tools to demonstrate how good you are to a potential employer.
Start a blog. Now. Literally, put this book down, buy a domain, install WordPress, and write a post about something interesting you’ve done.
What This Shows An Employer
You’re willing to invest in yourself
A domain name and hosting account is pretty cheap. You can get basic hosting for a few pounds a year.
Why would an employer trust anyone whose blog address is “example.wordpress.com” or “example.blogspot.com”? You want to enter the tech industry and can’t even manage your own domain and blogging software?!?
How well can you document your thought process?
When a potential employer finds your blog, will they understand what you’ve written?
Will they accept your arguments?
Will they see that you know how to comment your code?
You can share
A large part of employment is explaining things to others. Write blog posts which show that you have done something and can simply impart wisdom to others.
It doesn’t matter if what you blog about isn’t particularly impressive. People aren’t looking for award winning insight and prose. They want to see that you can communicate clearly.
You can present
At some point, someone is going to ask you to create a PowerPoint presentation. This is your chance to practice!
What are your design skills like?
Have you got a colour scheme on your blog which is going to make eyes bleed?
Craft your blog so it reflects the image you want to project at work.
You can create
Show the world that you’ve created something of value.
But, most of all, include your name on it!
Protip: Other Blogs
It’s ok to ask relevant questions and leave helpful suggestions on other blogs. Remember to include a link back to your blog when you do so.
Protip: Promote Yourself (but don’t spam)
Have you written anything which you consider to be interesting or unique? If so, submit it to sites like HackerNews or Reddit. If you’re confident that it’s good, contact publishers of online magazines. They are always on the lookout for new and interesting technology stories.
If your blog is linked to from a major publication, it makes it much easier for employers to find you.
Congratulations! When a potential employer searches for you, they’ll be able to see the quality of code you produce.
What This Shows An Employer
You know how to use Git
The modern workplace relies on Source Management. Can you use Git or SVN? If so, great, your future employer has saved a week of having to train you up.
You understand and respect software licencing
Open Source is becoming increasingly important in the workplace.
Are you going to get a company in trouble because you’ve included GPL’d code in a proprietary product?
How well you code
No one is expecting a recent graduate to be writing control systems for mission critical software - but employers want to know that you know the basics.
Are you able to demonstrate a wide range of skills and programming languages?
Protip: Raise public bug reports on other people’s software. When you do so, include your name and URL. Let a potential employer see that you can identify a problem and produce a useful bug report.
Protip: Submit patches and bug fixes to other people’s software. When you do so, include your name and URL. Let a potential employer know that you work well with others.
Protip: Blog about what you’ve done! Don’t be afraid to promote yourself.
You’ve taken the first two steps on improving your visibility on search engines. If you can demonstrate to future employers that you’re a knowledgeable individual who can communicate, work well in a team, and produce solid code - you’ve massively increased your ability to find employment.
Your future employer is going to search for you. Make sure they find something substantially more interesting than drunken photos on Facebook!