What’s the secret to getting your first cloud architect job? Building your brand!
Do you want to build the ultimate cloud architect career? Are you looking to earn more money in your career? Do you want recruiters to come to you to hire you instead of you working so hard to find your first cloud architect job? Well, keep reading. In this article, we cover the importance of building your brand, and the areas to focus on to impress hiring managers and potential employers.
Branding for Your First Cloud Architect Job
We’re going to talk about building your professional brand. Why should you build a professional brand? You should build a brand for the same reasons a business builds a brand. When you have a strong brand, people come searching for you. If you want a computer that’s very easy to use, user-friendly and reliable, most people think of Apple. Why? Because the operating system works well. It’s simple to use and many people like Apple products. Here’s another example; when people think of Mercedes, they think of a strong, durable, reliable car; with lots of power, performance, and safety functions. Why? Because that’s the way they’ve been built and that’s the way the brand is built.
We’re going to talk about how to build a brand because when you have a great brand, demand for your services will follow. A great brand will help you with raises, promotions, and will have a big impact on your total salary and compensation. When people know your brand and they trust your brand, you will always be in high demand.
What does your brand say about you? In general, when you build a professional brand as a cloud architect it really should say a few key things. You should build a brand that employers want. This brand should have the characteristics of an ideal employee for a given position. For example, here is a perfect brand for a cloud architect:
- Strongly technically component in end-to-end systems design
- Expertise in a specific area (i.e cloud infrastructure, cloud security) or industry (Cloud for Banking)
- Responsible – Someone that you can count on to do the job properly, regardless of the challenge
- Trustworthy – Someone with good honesty, integrity and follow though
- Energetic, Enthusiastic – Someone that’s excited about the work
- Emotionally Intelligent – Someone that connect well with others
- Excellent communicator – Someone that can communicate effectively with CEOs, CIOs, Architects, Managers, and Engineer
- Business Acumen – Someone with the capability to understand business, business goals and business challenges. Someone that know how to solve business problems with technology.
We’ve conducted thousands of interviews in our careers and spoken to countless hiring managers and recruiters. The characteristics listed above are what hiring managers tell us they desire in an ideal employee. We want you to build your brand based upon the hiring manager’s dream hire. So, you will always be in demand. Experts for example are always in demand. How do you make your brand look like that of an expert? For one thing, you must actually be an expert. To be an expert, you need to focus your training, your certifications, and all your expertise on one specific area.
Area of Expertise
You can’t know everything about everything and anyone who thinks they can is kidding themselves. Ultimately this lack of focus, can slow or stop career progression and lowers earning potential. When we see people that have 10 and 12x AWS certifications, we know that they know very little about cloud computing. More importantly, we know they most likely don’t know what they don’t know. The individuals who go this route most likely only know how to answer questions specific to the vendor service/product and how to use the management console.
In contrast, an expert in cloud computing can look at a situation, obtain customer requirements and design a solution that will work, regardless of the cloud vendor. They can develop a solution that will be cost-effective and meet an organization’s business, legal, and technical requirements. That’s what an expert is capable of, and we want you to be an expert.
With this said, I encourage you to get real expertise and make sure your resume shows how your past experiences are building towards your area of expertise. For example, if you want to be known as an expert you should be active and visible in specialty environments and working groups. Work in groups that are in your area of specialty and document the projects you’ve worked on. Attend conferences and trainings in your area of specialty. If you are constantly seen and work hard in your area of specialty, then sooner or later the world is going to know your brand. What’s your area of specialty? Maybe it’s networking, IAM, security, DevOps, or another area. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it should be what you desire to do, as you will be spending a lot of time in this area.
To be successful in your development and building your brand, you must focus your time and effort on your area of specialty/expertise. What does this look like?
Let’s look at a martial artist competing for a contest as an example. What does their development look like? They have a stretching routine. They have a metabolic conditioning or cardio routine. They have a power training routine. They have a strength training routine. They have a martial arts training routine. Everything they’re doing is all geared towards one thing – becoming the best they can be!
Now compare that to what I call the 12x AWS certified. Their development could look like this. A little DevOps, then some security followed by a bit of database management, and a little networking. Looking at this, you can see that these areas do not build upon each other and are completely unrelated. You can’t build depth this way and everyone knows it. If you’re going to build a brand, focus on being an expert in your area of specialty.
Social Media and Publication
How else are you going to build your brand? You must know what you’re doing and be able to communicate that you know what you’re doing. We like to say when you’re building your brand, create at least three engaging high-quality social media posts per week. In these posts, you should deliver content that shows that you’re an expert. Your posts should be well-done, well-written, well-spoken, and well-researched. They shouldn’t be half-thought out or presented as an afterthought. These are going to show that you’re the industry expert. Strive for perfection in everything you publish. Remember this is what the public will think of you – this is your brand!
Now, with both resumes and social media, we want you to remove anything that doesn’t match your perfect professional brand. I know this seems random, but these things are considered brand distractors. If you are an expert, everything you have and do should be aligned. If your area of specialty is in networking, then we suggest that you do not include database or DevOps-related content. Inclusion of these types of content on your resume could lead potential employers to consider you for those types of roles and it would be difficult to get back on track.
If you are an expert, you need to show your capability. How do you show your capability, especially when you’re new? One way is to write a lot of content in your area of expertise. When you write this content, you should make it the best thing you’ve ever written in your life. It should be well-researched and thought out. When you write great content and present it to the world, the world notices.
As an example, almost every time I write a good paper or make a good YouTube video, someone offers me a job. Why? Because it’s hard to find qualified capable people and my brand is that of someone who can take the complicated and make it simple. My brand is known as someone that knows networking, security, and cloud computing. And my brand is known as someone that can take people and bring out the best in others; whether that’s teaching them, coaching them, or leading them in a team. That’s my brand, and it’s something that has required consistent messaging on my part throughout my career. My employers always had me write white papers and present at major conferences.
When I deliver on my brand and my messaging matches my brand, I get constant job offers. This same thing can happen to you. Granted, I have 25 years of experience and over time my brand’s gotten better, but I had to start building my brand somewhere. Recall, that we mentioned adjusting your social media profiles, and even adjusting your resume. Everything that you have should show the extent of your capabilities.
Let’s talk about being responsible. A good cloud architect is highly responsible; someone that can be counted on and trusted. How do you build your brand to show your responsibility? When you deliver something, make sure it’s the best. When you promise to do something, complete it as promised, for example on time and on budget. If you can’t do this for some reason, then explain along the way challenges that prevent you from delivering as promised (don’t hold it until the end and surprise the client).
As an example, if you’re given a project and you can’t finish it on time, call and tell the client why. Offer alternatives and solicit feedback on your proposal or their guidance. Although you may not meet the initial expectations, you’ve at least let them know you’re still working on their solution. Never, ignore someone when you don’t have an answer, or run into problems. Always communicate with them, and if you don’t have an answer let them know you will find one; and then go and find one.
Another way to be seen as responsible is to return calls, text messages, emails, etc., as fast as reasonably possible. A lot of times you may be unable to immediately tend to an issue or phone call. In these cases, a simple quick communication letting the person know you’ll be reaching out to them when you free up, will go a long way. At the very least it lets them know you’re aware they have a need. Then make sure to follow back up with them when you said you would.
People like to know you’ve heard them. When you return calls, texts, and emails as fast as possible you become someone that’s part of the dependability program. Let’s look at this scenario. Imagine you’re managing a network and you have three engineers. You can send a message to all three, and one gets back to you in two minutes, one takes an hour, and the last one takes 12 hours. In a crisis, who are you going to call? The person who’s going to call you back first assuming they’re of equal quality. You want to be seen as a responsive, responsible person. Be the person who responds as quickly as possible.
The next aspect of presenting your responsibility is attention to detail. I grew up with a lot of military folks and here’s what I was brought up with. Attention to detail is key, and a lack of it will get you killed in war. In a sense, business and your career is war. Attention to detail or lack of it will kill your career. So attention to detail in every aspect will assist your career.
Trustworthiness is the next part of a good brand. How do you build trustworthiness? Always do what you say you will and do the right thing. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Don’t insult others. Don’t damage anyone’s property. Just do the right thing. And here’s the key takeaway. This is what separates the successful long-term career professionals from the short-term individuals that come up rapidly and then crash and burn. Don’t ever sacrifice someone else, or yourself, just to get ahead in some way. It won’t work for you. It might appear to work in the short-term, but you’ll get a brand that’s so bad and so toxic that it will crush your career, it’s just a matter of time.
If people tell you things in confidence, don’t repeat them, maintain people’s confidence. Don’t gossip, this is a negative trait, and it will damage your brand. You should be seen as someone that’s trustworthy, someone that’s responsible, and someone that’s capable.
Personality-wise, we’re looking for someone that’s pleasant, easygoing, happy, optimistic, and serious enough to get the job done. An additional trait that is hard to find, is someone that can just let things roll off their back and doesn’t get offended easily.
A key personality trait that’s critical to a cloud computing career, a cloud architect career, or any career, is to be non-judgmental. Everybody comes from a different background and has a different set of circumstances. It’s important to be open-minded and non-judgmental in your professional career. Emotional intelligence is probably the biggest factor affecting your career. And empathy is one of the critical things as it pertains to emotional intelligence. If you can see things from another’s perspective, you’ll never be judgmental. And if you’re not judgmental, people will always give you information. As a cloud architect, the better information you have, the better results you can provide, and ultimately the better you will do in your career.
You should also strive to be known as the person that doesn’t get angry and is easy to please. You don’t want the perception that you’re miserable, or miserable to work with. So be that optimistic, happy person. Be the person that everybody loves to be around and watch your career go up.
Hiring managers and employers don’t want to work with people who appear low energy, especially if they broadcast that energy to those around them. They want someone that can take charge, that’s excited about work, and show that they are ready for the day. Be known as someone that’s always ready. The U.S. Marine Corps has this philosophy Semper Fidelis, which means always faithful. The coast guard uses Semper Paratus, which means always ready. The point I am making is to show the world that you’re ready to take on whatever task is in front of you.
How do you have more energy? First, take care of your health. If you’re unhealthy, you won’t have energy. Eat right, think right, train right. If you do all those things, you’re going to be in the right position. When you walk into a room, look alive, stand tall, head up, shoulders back; say hello to everybody. What a difference this type of approach and attitude makes in the workday for everyone, including yourself; and what a difference it’ll make for your career.
Enthusiasm is also key. People love energetic, enthusiastic people. It’s one of the traits that hiring managers desire most. How do you stay enthusiastic about life? For one thing, we recommend that you practice gratitude every day. Every day, wake up and be thankful for all the wonderful blessings you’ve received. Trust me, I’ve been all over the world and I’ve lived through hardships and seen people that struggle every day. I promise you, most of the people reading this have so much luck compared to others in the world just by being able to access this article. Because that means you have internet access and access to a computer. There are people that don’t have that. You should find a way to be thankful every day for the great things you have in your life. If you do this simple thing, you’ll soon find that you’re more enthusiastic. You’ll also be happier, which will make you more emotionally intelligent and you will do better in your career. Employers want happy people, it’s as simple as that!
Also, as a rule, if you want to be enthusiastic you must find something that you love. That’s why we work with our students from the beginning, before we even find a focus, we ask “Can you tell us exactly what you like? Can you tell us what you’re passionate about? Can you tell us what your dreams are?” Then based on the responses we build them a plan based upon their goals and dreams. If you don’t know your goals and dreams, you can’t build a plan. I need people to be enthusiastic about everything they do. If you’re enthusiastic, it’s infectious, the whole room gets happy. Enthusiasm is highly desired by hiring managers, they’re more likely to hire you, and ultimately, they’ll pay you more.
Now you have a guide to help you building your brand as you work toward your dream cloud architect career. The areas that we have covered here will ultimately make you a more desirable candidate for hiring managers. Throughout our years of experience, these key focus points of competency, responsibility, trustworthiness, and personality have remained the primary areas of concern for hiring managers and recruiters. If you can successfully build your brand to highlight all of these areas, you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.