How Remote Workers Should Build Their Online Presence
In today’s competitive environment, the demand for remote web developers is as high as ever — and the demand is met with thousands of programmers entering the market and searching for a job. To land the dream job, however, a candidate should really stand out and be a better fit for the company overall — but how can this be achieved?
Obviously enough, things like work experience and hard/soft skills are all essential for passing interviews and being a successful remote developer, but our experience tells us that there’s another aspect to it: your online presence, which corporate websites define as
any existence of an individual or business that can be found via an online search. However, we can adjust this term and define it as “ability to reach a large online audience with your expertise”.
This definition highlights an important fact: being a good programmer is awesome, but being known for being a good programmer is even better — so in this article, we will explore tips and techniques that will help you become known in the developer community.
Why is it important?
First of all, we should reiterate the importance of the online presence: working and keeping up with the latest web development trends take a lot of time — why spend precious free time on online presence, a feature that (seemingly) doesn’t translate into anything meaningful? In short, this will enable you to prove your expertise to a wide audience — here are the factors that make it possible:
Personal brand and reputation
In many companies nowadays, the recruiting process involves vetting the candidate’s social media profiles — HR managers try to analyze what a prospective employee might be hiding from them. Whether this process can be fruitful is debatable, but it makes sense for the employer to also go through this checklist: does the applicant have any passion projects outside of work? Any special interests?
Network and communication
Thankfully, online communication is not similar to how servers and clients talk (emotionlessly and without improvisation, that is) — chances are, the content you produce will facilitate reaction and communication with your audience. This is a great stepping stone towards building your professional network: if you provide value to the audience, it will appreciate this and be glad to build relationships with you. Our experience shows that remote developers with rich online presence network more successfully: clients’ testimonials contribute no less than a good resume.
At Soshace, we use our own blog to show the personalities of our remote developers: interviews are a great way of getting to know the real people who make great projects come true. Other platforms like Github, Medium, and social media are all great tools at your disposal — now it’s time to learn how to use them to their fullest potential.
In a sense, GitHub profile is another resume, but it can highlight your strengths much better. First of all, posting all relevant information about yourself is a must: this includes a photo, bio, and whether you’re available for work. This section can be the same as in the resume, but it has the luxury of being less formal (the infamous fartscroll.js would probably raise quite a few eyebrows if listed in the “My Proudest Achievements” section of a resume).
For better profile organization, add succinct descriptions to your repositories and update readme.md files — your visitors would be able to learn about your contributions at a glance. Open-source projects are, of course, the ultimate testament to your dedication: even large companies (e.g. Mozilla) welcome passionate remote developers who wish to contribute to the code base. There are different levels of bug difficulty, so both new and experienced developers can make software better (and get an official “Thank you” tweet from the company’s profile).
Concerning the number of projects posted on GitHub, there isn’t any wrong answer; just make sure that each of them actually showcases your competence. You’ll have to strive for a certain level of minimalism in this regard: prospective recruiters don’t have a lot of time to scan your profile, so the question “Which projects should I highlight?” should be given enough time — then, pin the repositories to the top for easy access (and make sure that private contributions are visible).
LinkedIn. Nowadays, this platform is the go-to place for professional networking, recruiting, and job searching, so it makes sense to put some effort and reach “all-star” profile status (adding a professional profile photo and filling these sections out: Experience, Connections, Summary, Skills, Education, and Industry & Location). Like on GitHub, update whether you’re available for hire (in “Career interests” section) with detailed information like your desired industries, work schedule, country preferences, and so on.
Twitter. For some developers, pumping new and unique content out every few days may seem like a chore: working with programming languages is often a challenge in and of itself, so describing their ins and outs in a natural language (like the one you’re reading now) is indeed tiresome. However, the value you can provide your audience with isn’t strictly limited to writing whole articles; distributing great content is equally valuable!
On platforms like Twitter, it’s extremely easy to share useful content like “50+ Amazing Tools and Online Resources for Web Developers” with your followers: you help them discover quality new information — and they’ll make sure to come back for more. Your expertise also allows you to produce a commentary on different topics: if you’re a React expert, people will trust what you say about new React features, projects, and implementations (the key is, of course, to not get too negative in your judgment).
There are various writing benefits that accompany blogging; for a remote web developer, the most important one lies in researching the topic and understanding it really well. Whatever you want to write about, you’ll have to study the topic thoroughly first — and only then you’ll feel competent enough to transfer this knowledge to other people. In this process, you’ll learn that you have some blind spots and gaps in your knowledge, so fixing them will ultimately make you a better professional.
Even your last blog post didn’t gather much traction, you shouldn’t get discouraged: blogs should work like a personal diary, documenting something you learned and storing it if you ever need to brush up on this knowledge. Here’s the good news: any of your posts can blow up unexpectedly, bringing you loads of traffic and exposure, especially if this area is relatively new/unexplored (when posting on popular platforms like Medium, the chances are even higher thanks to their own algorithms).
An important caveat that we should highlight is this: you shouldn’t treat your online presence as a commercial product. It’s perfectly okay to monetize the knowledge you’re sharing when an appropriate opportunity comes around; it’s not okay, however, to be constantly trying to sell something to your audience (whatever its size). In essence, you’re building an online presence to showcase your expertise (which will indirectly help you make more money) instead of trying to make money off it directly. In case of a personal blog, for instance, you can put a simple “Hire me” link — this will separate the wheat from the chaff (money from non-commercial content, that is).
Giving back to the community
Or, in other words, educating via tutorials: with the advent of the Internet, information as just a collection of trivia facts has been gradually losing its value — for many people, there’s no point in remembering what happened in 1973 if it can be googled easily. Well, what kind of information is still valuable? Tutorials, of course: although the history, description, and reviews of Thing A and Thing B are easy to look up online, it’s not always self-evident how to make Thing C out of them — and tutorials can solve this everlasting problem.
Tutorials come in all shapes and sizes (Youtube videos, blog posts, or short tweets), but they are all created out of a necessity for sharing knowledge. One of the best pieces of advice is this: if you haven’t found a tutorial, create one you wish you found — your future audience will thank you later.
A fulfilling developer career consists of many things: interesting projects, reliable company, great team… Strong online presence is one of the factors that will help you stand out — and lead such career yourself. Stay tuned for more tips!