What Strategies Can Help in Breaking Into the Tech Industry?
Many people are excited by the prospect of working in the tech industry. They know doing so could allow them to work on world-changing products in fast-paced environments. It’s also appealing that technologies are constantly changing and improving, meaning they’re unlikely to get bored or find no growth opportunities.
Breaking into the tech industry may seem like a daunting task at first. However, it’s more manageable than many think as long as they follow smart, progressive strategies for success.
Pick a Focus
The tech industry and its jobs are extremely broad. Working in it could mean training artificial intelligence algorithms, building software, designing robots, editing websites, improving experiences for app users and much more.
People could work in nontechnical roles. Possibilities include marketing, human resources, content creation, finances and sales.
Some individuals break into the tech industry from other backgrounds, often considering it necessary because the solutions they need don’t exist.
In other cases, people realize it’s time to start a tech business because their personality and goals are better suited to that aim compared to what they’re doing now.
Such was the case for Daniel Fayle, a former banker who co-founded Chekkit, a tech company offering review management and business growth software tools.
Fayle knew he had an entrepreneurial mindset and loved suggesting new ideas or processes. However, having a banking job didn’t nurture those traits. Only a year after Fayle left it, his tech company had reached $2 million in annual revenue.
The main thing to remember is that there are many ways to break into the tech industry. No single option guarantees success. However, an ideal starting point is for people to set a targeted goal and work on realistic ways of reaching it.
Recognize Current Strengths
Since there are so many diverse opportunities in the tech industry, people should narrow them down by thinking about what they’re good at and like to do.
Moving into this sector can provide many new options, and it’s ideal to focus on the ones that will be genuinely enjoyable and align with someone’s strengths and capabilities.
A graphic designer may want to work for a tech company by being a web designer. Making the switch will require gaining web development skills and working with tools like Adobe Dreamweaver.
Both these careers need someone to know how to present information and catch people’s attention. That means knowing the best practices for using colors, typography and imagery.
Many soft skills translate well to the tech industry. Problem-solving capabilities are extremely valuable, as is the ability to stay calm under pressure and meet tight deadlines.
People should also consider whether they’d like to work in person or remotely for tech companies. Many web developers find home-based jobs readily available. The same is true for individuals with artificial intelligence or robotic skills.
Remote working provides access to a worldwide talent pool, which is particularly useful when specific skills are in short supply locally. Many tech companies operate on a remote-first basis, so they rarely or never hire for on-site roles.
However, remote working is not for everyone. Some people love it, especially if they’re very self-motivated and find it easy to complete tasks with limited supervision. However, others find it too isolating and say it lacks the structure they need to stay productive.
Evaluate How Past Work and Experience Translates to Tech
Beginning a new career path in tech can feel overwhelming, but people must remember they’re not starting from scratch. Now is a great time for them to analyze their resumes and life experiences and think about how those things could assist them in the tech industry.
Someone may have worked as a teacher for the past six years. That likely means they can explain challenging topics to learners from varied backgrounds.
The skills from that career path could serve them well as they create content that helps people learn how to use tech tools. Someone with teaching experience might even lead video-based tech tutorials.
Virtually any role involving time management, communication or working with others will help someone develop skills useful for the tech industry.
Even someone who has spent several years as a stay-at-home parent and wants to return to the workforce probably has much to offer.
Parenting usually involves multitasking and setting boundaries with youngsters who may have different viewpoints. Those skills are helpful when working with colleagues or clients in the tech industry.
Aspiring tech workers should review voluntary or nonprofit work completed over the years. Someone who has helped affected parties after disasters likely works well under pressure and understands the importance of teamwork.
An individual who previously worked for a crisis hotline may have experience with cloud software to keep service user records.
People who apply or interview for jobs should prepare to emphasize these skills and provide concrete, in-depth examples of how their knowledge translates well to the tech roles they want. That will encourage hiring personnel to think outside the box about capabilities.
Pursue Educational Opportunities
Those ready to break into the tech industry should strongly consider devoting time to formal and informal education relating to their desired new jobs.
Fortunately, the internet has a rich assortment of technology courses, including many self-paced options. It’s always a good idea to read reviews from learners and see what the course will cover.
Potential employers may want to see completion documents, such as certificates. Many free courses require a fee to get the certification.
However, investing in oneself like that is often necessary for getting better careers. That’s especially true since many tech companies have high-paying positions for well-qualified people.
Wanting to earn a higher salary is a common career-change driver. Evidence shows more than 39% of employees have considered going elsewhere for better paychecks.
People who have their sights set on securing a well-paying, in-demand tech job may decide earning tech degrees is worthwhile.
That’s easier now than it once was, especially with so many universities offering online courses or those targeted to individuals who must keep working as they learn.
However, people should also be aware of the trend of many tech companies no longer requiring college degrees for some positions that previously required them. Google, Tesla and IBM are among those taking that approach.
Self-education is also increasingly valuable, especially when people use detailed walkthroughs from seasoned experts to learn new skills.
The internet provides numerous resources for individuals at various stages of their tech education and careers. Whether someone reads the most recommended books or follows popular blogs, there are many ways to get more educated for little or no cost.
People often say who you know is more important than what you know. Networking with others who are or want to be in the tech industry is a great way to start progressing with career goals.
Networking can help people get inspired, learn new things, enjoy more visibility in the tech field and meet others who could help them with their aspirations.
Networking also lets them show they’re eagerly engaged in their career progression rather than being passive participants.
It’s best to start looking for in-person networking events where people can meet others face-to-face, exchange business cards and chat over drinks.
There’s also a lot to be said for body language, tone of voice and other things that get left out when engaging in text-based conversations online.
However, online networking events and tech communities still have value, particularly for helping individuals create meaningful connections despite geographical boundaries.
Meeting people with common interests online is also ideal for those with personal obligations that make it challenging to fit more in-person events into their schedules.
Some individuals may also want to look for groups that support minorities. Women, people with disabilities and those from other less-advantaged groups may find it harder than expected to get into the tech industry, especially in very competitive markets.
However, their paths become easier to navigate when they get advice from others who’ve been in similar positions.
Networking opportunities are excellent for helping people keep track of workforce trends that may impact their tech industry goals, too.
For example, more companies offer flexible schedules and focus on culture to attract potential employees. Knowing those things can help job-seekers know whether specific benefits packages and salaries are worth accepting.
Create a Portfolio
A job in the tech industry usually requires more than a strong resume. Potential employers also typically want to see people’s skills.
Many companies have applicants complete tests that reflect how they’d likely perform in the job. Job-seekers should be prepared for that as a likely possibility while building solid portfolios.
In the earliest stages of trying to get a tech career, people might spend most of their time doing self-guided projects that allow them to read tutorials online and try to recreate the results.
However, as they become more experienced, it’ll be easier to get internships that could be useful for filling out a portfolio.
People who challenge themselves by building portfolios will also develop skills that will be useful during paid work.
For example, they’ll show potential employers they have what it takes to start working on something and finish it. They’ll also demonstrate a willingness to engage in continuous learning.
Experts have mixed opinions about whether individuals should do free work to add to their portfolios. When considering that option, people must consider factors like the overall time required to complete an assignment and whether accepting it will allow them to showcase something significantly different than what’s already in their body of work.
Know the Signs of an Appealing Work Environment
People seeking their ideal tech industry roles must know what they find most important in a future work environment.
Someone may know a low-stress workplace improves morale and productivity and wants to be in such a setting. Another individual might be OK with a high-pressure situation if they believe strongly in the company’s goals.
Since the tech industry is often very competitive, some people trying to break into it are willing to make sacrifices to get hired. However, they must know when it makes sense to compromise and if they should look for other roles instead.
A tech role might pay extremely well but require frequent overtime. Depending on how much someone values their free time, they might realize the great pay is not worth how long they’re at the office each week.
The main thing to remember is that how attractive a workplace is varies by person. People should refrain from taking tech roles that go against what they value or will require them to give up too many things they prioritize.
Browsing tech company websites is an excellent preliminary way to learn what organizations value and what people can expect while working there.
Company tours given during the interview are also crucial for helping individuals gauge if they’d like to accept an offer.
Make a Purposeful Move
These actionable tips will help people make steady progress toward their aim of getting into the tech industry. The path ahead will not be easy, but it’s worthwhile and accessible when following suggestions like these.
About the Author!
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.