Women in STEM

How to succeed in your technology career

Emma Maslen, UK MD at SAP Concur

It’s no surprise that 95 per cent of recruiters viewed a competitive personal brand as a key differentiator for attracting the best applicants in today’s workplace.

Personal branding is hugely beneficial on many levels: it makes you look connected, authoritative on a particular area and can help you build a strong network of like-minded contacts.

So not making the most of this opportunity and using it to your advantage to further your career would be a mistake. Especially in the fast-moving and competitive world of technology where the importance for you to be distinctive is even more critical.

Unfortunately, doing a good job and getting the recognition you deserve isn’t always the case in businesses. But, one way of helping you progress in your career and to stand out is by developing a personal brand.

For me personally, working in the technology sector for many years, building a personal brand has been an essential approach that really helped me to drive my career in the direction I wanted.

The good news is, it’s not rocket science and anyone can do it. Below are my four tips for getting started on nailing your personal brand.

Step one: Get your thinking hat on

Do you know where you want to be in one, two and five years’ time? It might sound far ahead but having some long-term goals set can keep you focused.

Working in the technology sector, it’s easy to think in the moment and not give too much thought to life later down the line. But without planning where you want to be in the future, how can you expect to ever get there?

No one is going to invest in your future but you. So, it’s time to take control of your future by giving it some serious thought. No one else will do it for you.

Step two: What do you want to be known for?

Once you’ve got your goals in place, select three words you want to become known for. A good place to start is thinking about what differentiates you from everyone else; don’t just opt for words that you think sound good. Most importantly, they need to be authentic.

For instance, if you want to be known as a ‘doer’, or a ‘closer’, don’t just start declaring yourself as that. Actions speak louder than words. You need to show people you are and prove it to them. One simple way of doing this is aiming to go to every meeting and show what you bring to the project at hand. This means no more shrinking in them – you won’t get that recognition as someone who has their act together otherwise.

One example of a techie who has built a sterling personal brand for herself is the computer scientist and academic, Dr Sue Black. She campaigned to save Bletchley Park – home of the World War Two codebreaker and now The National College of Cybersecurity – building a following of supporters and making a real change. She was genuinely passionate about it and people bought into that.

Step three: Start engaging

Once you’ve pinned down what you want to be known for, it’s time to start working towards building that perception.

Whether you like it or not, everyone has a digital footprint. Whether its photos on Facebook with your friends, you ranting on Twitter about public transport or sharing what Spanish tapas meal you had last week on Instagram. And this probably isn’t the sort of content you’d want potential employers, prospects or indeed your network to see.

So this next step is all about starting to create, share and engage with content which ties into the personal brand you’re looking to build for yourself – LinkedIn Pulse blogs and Medium are fantastic places to voice opinions. Or if you’re not a strong writer, there will plenty of communities whether that’s on LinkedIn or face-to-face networking meetups you can become part of.

Step four: Be patient

Whatever it is you want to be perceived as, make sure the tone of voice you select also suits your overall personal brand, whether that’s authoritative, engaging or concise. But the real secret in building a successful personal brand that sticks is all in consistency.

It takes a long time to build a personal brand – in fact, studies reckon it takes people five to seven times to remember a brand – and it requires real tenacity, but the benefits you’ll get as a result are certainly worth the initial effort.

The advantages of an individual investing in their personal brand and how they are perceived are obvious. But, why should companies be incentivised to encourage their employees to establish personal brands? It might, after all, lead to a head-hunter spotting and poaching your top talent.

With levels of trust towards businesses at an all time low, and statistics showing 92 per cent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over companies. The benefits for employees being active on social media and crafting a credible personal brand for themselves are clear. In addition, 77 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy when the CEO of the business uses social media. This makes it a clear win-win for individuals and companies alike.