Teleworker Personal Branding

October 18, 2009


A friend of mine asked me recently, why isn’t CSS on your resume? The question seems simple. I’m an engineer (in addition to an author) and I know CSS. Proficiency with cascading style sheets is an increasingly sought-after skill and I mention enough other acronyms on my resume. Adding CSS seems like the logical thing to do, but it isn’t.

It’s question of personal branding. Branding is amazingly important for teleworkers because finding remote jobs is more difficult. You need to work harder to stand out from the crowd.

My resume tries to brand me as someone who can write serious code. There are workhorses like C++ for credibility and obscure languages like Haskell for some extra nerdy panache. CSS isn’t a programming language and engineers who see it on the same resume with C++ think the candidate doesn’t really know either.

Being a “real programmer” is very important since resumes with Java and Python are routine. The message of my resume is simple and direct: Zack knows code. Focus is an important part of branding, but with focus comes limits.

I’m also a decent designer (at least I like to think so). When I brand myself as a designer C++ becomes a detriment. Someone who knows C++ is an engineer and the common wisdom is that engineers don’t know anything about design. And there’s the rub.

C++ means engineer and CSS means designer. Two skill sets that, in the minds of most hiring managers, are rarely found together. I could create two resumes, but an unfocused brand is a failed brand. So I’m left being one thing to all people.

The only solution I have is education. Show as many people as possible that you can be a designer and an engineer. That love of function and form can exist in the same person. I’m still working on it.

Do you agree? How do you convince other people you’re more than just one thing?

The picture in this article was created by caveman_92223 and is used under the CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

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