Techies, numbers guys, nerds. What do these terms have in common? These descriptions– while wildly restrictive and (mostly) inaccurate– are often used to describe an organization’s information technology department. IT jobs are commonly viewed as the difficult, tedious roles that support the rest of an enterprise. With these quick-fire heuristics in mind, it’s fair to wonder why an IT professional would ever need to create a personal brand. It’s a reasonable question, but a closer look reveals the many benefits– and emerging need– of self-branding in the IT industry.
Rich Hein of CIO magazine– a popular periodical serving IT leaders and their surrounding ecosystem– wrote an article back in 2013 summarizing the state of the tech industry and explaining how to separate oneself in it via self-branding. With technology becoming a focal point in nearly all businesses, IT jobs are high paying and respected more than ever before. This means more competition. Hein gives multiple recommendations– playing to your strengths and building an online presence, for example– for how to outpace the competition, and sums up his point with a quote that proposes that discovering your personal brand statement is “the most critical step” of becoming a good job candidate. No, these sentiments aren’t unique to IT, but this illustrates that the field is just like any other when it comes to the need for self-branding.
If the reasons for creating a personal brand as an IT professional seem vague, consider the benefits. Rajesh Setty is an experienced tech entrepreneur and author who currently lives in Silicon Valley. He described how a technology professional can distinguish oneself from the pack and the benefits they’d reap in an article he wrote for Intulogy and Compassites. Setty now considers personal branding a necessary skill for the career– how else can IT professionals market their technical skills and experience? By cultivating a strong personal brand, tech professionals can realize three main benefits. First, strong brands are associated with higher value, so employers will perceive your potential impact as greater if your brand is strong. Second, you’ll have a lower cost of sale, meaning you’ll spend less time persuading others of your abilities. Lastly, those with a strong personal brand carry an implied assurance with them. Those with a noteworthy brand statement have an implied level of trust and customer satisfaction.
When you think about it, the importance of personal brands in the IT industry shouldn’t be a surprise. IT professionals can possess various technical skills, gain experience in a wide number of industries, and often work as consultants. How is this any different from jobs where self-branding is traditionally important, such as graphic designers or writers?
With how competitive the job market is today, it’d be more surprising to find evidence of not needing a personal brand. Even famous actors, some of the most recognizable people there are, use self-branding to their advantage. In Generation Like, we saw Ian Somerhalder use his large social media following as a valuable tool. He outsourced his social media management and analysis to ensure that he was appeasing his followers, and used it as a platform to sell ads. Different jobs, similar principles.
- Hein, R. (2013). 9 steps to build your personal brand (and your career). CIO. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2385635/it-strategy/9-steps-to-build-your-personal-brand–and-your-career-.html
- Setty, R. (2006). Personal branding for technology professionals. Intulogy. Retrieved from http://www.rajeshsetty.com/wp-content/uploads/pbtp.pdf
- PBS Frontline (2014). Generation like: Social media and self-promotion. PBS. Retrieved from http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/fl32-soc-glselfpro/generation-like-social-media-and-self-promotion/