Building Your Brand for Big Data Jobs

By Jason Williamson

Part of Getting a Big Data Job For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Getting a job today is about much more than just going to school, preparing your résumé, and applying for jobs. The job market is extremely competitive, even for high-growth fields like big data. A key element in finding your perfect job is to build your personal brand. This can be tough — it requires a lot of self-reflection and answers to questions that only you can provide.

Here are some foundational things you should consider when establishing your brand as a big data professional:

  • Create a mission statement. Big data jobs are about discovering big ideas. What’s the big idea for your life? Create a mission statement for your life and write it down. Research shows you’re more likely to accomplish your goals if you write them down. Mission statements allow you to guide your future choices, as well as help you course-correct if you get off-track.

    For example, an overly simple vision could be, “I would like to enable others to have a healthier life.” So, as you think about your big data path, you may be drawn to jobs within healthcare or life science. If you find yourself in finance or banking and after a couple of years seemed unfulfilled, you can identify why and course-correct. This is the guiding principle for your personal brand. It can come out in your interviews, résumé, writing, and online profiles.

  • Set professional goals. Break your vision statement into specific professional goals. Again, be specific and write them down. This isn’t about visualizing your future and hoping the universe is pulling for you. Instead, it’s a pragmatic approach that allows you to measure progress and adjust if you go off the rails. It may be important for your brand to go to a well-known school or work for a recognized technology firm. You may have goals around specific titles or job functions. Write them down, and work backward on how you’re going to get there.

    Another goal could be that you want to be known for a specific thing or an expert in a certain area. In big data, this is particularly helpful. You may have a goal to be an expert in Hadoop or MongoDB. Set that as a goal and let your activities drive that brand.

  • Set personal goals. Brand goes beyond just professional goals. Take time to set personal goals. Do your professional goals enable your personal goals?

  • Determine where your brand is now. Perhaps the most important aspect of building your brand is being aware of where it stands today. How do people see you? What do you have to work on to get your brand to where it needs to be? There are two quick and easy things you can do to determine this:

    • Ask people. Get them to tell you their perspective in light of what you’re trying to do. Find people who will be honest and not just protect your feelings.

    • Do an internet search on yourself. What comes up on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook? Does it reflect the brand you’re trying to project?

  • Get your online brand in shape. Your online presence is a huge part of personal brand. Make sure you take the time to align your online profiles, posts, and information to the brand you’re trying to build. If you want to be viewed as an expert in big data, are any of your tweets about big data or are they all about your cat?

  • Work your network. Building brand is a continual process and one that takes some care and feeding, like a garden. A part of that process is spending time within your network by making new connections and strengthening the ones that you already have. Spend time in both your real-world networks as well as your online networks. You brand will increase in value as your network grows in both number and strength of connection.