A few weeks ago I received a question from a reader of the Navigating Your Software Development 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!
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!
Here’s my answer to the question that was posed:
Position/brand yourself as someone who is transitioning careers into software development.
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.
As you are learning to make the switch, you can make your journey public by:
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!
Here’s Your Cue!
If you are a developer and have come from a non-tech or non-dev background, I’d love to hear your story (even a couple sentences would be awesome!).
Keep In Touch
Don’t forget to connect with me on twitter or LinkedIn!
Navigating Your Software Development Career Newsletter
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✔ What are the general stages of a software developer?
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✔ What is a tech leader and how do I become one?
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