We prepared this article for people who have already been part of the job market for some time but are now looking to switch their careers and enter the tech industry.
Read on to get actionable tips that help to jumpstart your career transition into tech. You can start implementing many of these tips without having to leave the security of your job – that is until you are ready to make the leap!
1. Understand your motivation and goals
Most people have a tendency to set up mental barriers for themselves and make up excuses for not changing their behaviors. Take a moment and reflect on what your intuition is telling you once you start thinking about switching from your current career into a tech job.
Position your idea in a bigger picture and ask yourself these questions:
- Why does a new job in tech look so attractive to you?
- What matters to you in your professional life? Why are those things so important to you?
- What are your hopes and fears related to work?
- Where would you like to be within the next 5 or 10 years of your professional life?
Understanding your motivation and goals better will help you avoid becoming sidetracked by our fears and excuses. Also, refocusing on your big picture objectives will be easier once you clarify them.
2. Be realistic and estimate your chances of success
Once you identify your goals, take a pragmatic look at your situation, and assess your chances of succeeding. Be realistic – the truth is that not everyone is cut out for a career in tech.
How can you know whether you have what it takes? One of the things that differentiate real talent from average performers in the tech industry is their willingness to keep learning and expanding their skill sets.
- Are you willing to keep growing and dedicating your time to gaining new skills?
- Would you feel comfortable in a job/sector where things change at a fast pace?
- Are you ready to bear the financial cost of training for transitioning into the tech industry?
The answers to these questions will help you dig deeper into your motivation and have a clearer picture of all the time, money, and effort it will take for you to transition to the tech career successfully.
3. Get a job that positions you closer to the tech industry
One of the best things someone who already has a job can do is getting an opportunity related to their everyday job that gets them a step closer to working in IT.
For example, you can transition from your current company to a software development company either in the same position or to a role where you can leverage the same skill set. That way, you will get closer to the IT field and acquire some real-life experience with specific technologies.
This is a great option if you don’t want to become a software engineer but instead pursue a career in UX design, product management, project management, and other tech-related areas that are crucial for building successful digital products.
Here’s another idea:
Consider shadowing people who are occupying the role of your dreams. That way, you’ll get to learn the reality of this position first-hand.
You can also convince your current employer to let you do an apprenticeship in the position of your choice. The tech industry is brimming with internships and apprenticeships at various companies that want to attract talented people looking to start (or switch) their careers.
4. Acquire new skills
If you’d like to become part of the industry in a technical role, you will need to get some skills by learning a programming language or other tech-related areas such as testing.
What you can do at this point is either quit your job and go back to school full-time, attend a time-fixed workshop or bootcamp, or keep the safety of your 9-to-5 job while studying software development part-time.
Each of those options comes with its unique pros and cons, but they all have one thing in common: they offer you a formal way to focus your energy and time on acquiring specific technology skills.
There are plenty of free online resources out there, but only the most dedicated and disciplined learners will be able to leverage them for their career switch. By joining a remote course that explores a programming language, you will be motivated to keep learning.
Collective learning allows you to interact with like-minded people, build your network, and get access to industry pros who could help you further your career in the field.
5. Learn a programming language and manual testing
Even if you’re not aiming for a technical role in the tech industry, knowing the basics of coding and testing will help you differentiate yourself and show that you have what it takes to succeed in the tech industry.
Next, learn the ins and outs of manual testing. This will provide you with an overview of the entire development cycle. By learning how testing works, you will also get to know industry standards, become aware of the value of clean and readable code, and see how software products can align with the needs of stakeholders outlined in the requirements.
One of the best ways to get your foot in the door of the tech industry is by building a solid network. Your professional network will play a crucial role once you are ready to transition from your current sector to the tech industry.
Moreover, by building a network, you will start learning more about the tech industry, such as company cultures, industry standards, and requirements for specific roles.
How to contact potential mentors?
- When reaching out to a professional, make sure that you have a clear goal of what you want to achieve and express it in your message.
- Pay attention to the wording of your message. For example, using the word “advice” as opposed to “opinion” will help you get a more valuable response.
- After meeting someone, follow up with a thoughtful message. This is an excellent way to differentiate yourself.
If you’re interested in a particular company, check whether it hosts information sessions where candidates get to delve deeper into the roles offered by the company and learn more about the culture.
Many such information sessions are hosted on college campuses, but you can also attend open houses hosted by recruiters and leadership team members from the company. Both methods are an excellent opportunity to network with employees of your target company. Based on what you learn about the role, you can polish your resume and create a customized portfolio.
7. Work on your portfolio
Use any opportunity to work on projects where you can showcase your skills in the field. In the tech industry, the experience is more important than a fancy degree (depending on the role, of course).
That’s why you need to focus on building a portfolio that would make you an attractive hire. This means that you might consider doing some free projects for clients, for example, projects or freelance gigs.
Once you acquire some coding skills, you can build yourself a portfolio website:
Make sure that all the projects you include demonstrate your skills accurately and are relevant for the kind of field, role, and company if you’re trying to enter.
Consider building your online brand on platforms ranging from GitHub to Medium. You need an active online presence to become an attractive candidate.
Always link to your portfolio in your LinkedIn profile so that hiring managers can easily see your work.
8. Leverage the experience you already have
Switching careers doesn’t mean that everything you’ve learned so far is no longer valid. In fact, you should use your experience and skills to your advantage when applying for jobs in the tech industry.
Unlike people who are applying for jobs straight out of school, you already have a wealth of experience to use. This puts you in a better position than those who have little to no work experience.
Moreover, your former professional experience offers a unique perspective that other people in the tech industry might not have. Don’t hide the skills you learned from your previous job and be ready to use them as your key differentiator.
Switching careers is always challenging. However, it’s also necessary for today’s economic reality, especially if what you’re looking for is job satisfaction and professional growth. These two often go hand-in-hand in the tech industry, which offers modern workspaces, attractive company cultures, laid-back attitude, and plenty of opportunities for growth. We hope that the tips we outlined above help you in joining the tech industry.
Are you looking for more advice about career development in the tech industry? Be sure to follow our blog, where our experts share their insights about achieving success in tech.