Switching to a Career in Technology

By Erin Coursey, iHire, LLC

As the hot field nationwide, technology is drawing in new people from all stages in their careers. If you’re interested in breaking into the industry, this simple four-step guide is for you.

Am I a good fit?

The two main qualities you need to succeed in technology are a love for problem solving and dedication. If this sounds like you, you’re on the right track. To get a better idea of whether this path is for you, see how you compare to these other soft skills you will need:

  • Communication/teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Negotiation
  • Flexibility
  • Public speaking

Where should I start?                                                           

Now that you know you want to go into technology, it’s time to figure out what you need to learn. Find some job descriptions that sound appealing, and then search for more that advertise similar roles. Note which qualifications show up most often and use these to see areas you need to work on. Here are some in-demand skills you are likely to encounter according to Computer World:

  • IT architecture
  • Programming/application development
  • Project management
  • Database administration
  • Cloud/SaaS
  • Web development

How do I learn what I need to know?

There are a variety of ways to gain technology expertise. Pick and choose from the options below to create the combination that’s right for you.

  • Online programs/courses: Whether testing your interest or getting the qualifications you need to be hired, online programs and courses can help. This route is the most flexible, as you can complete courses anywhere you have internet access. However, as Fortune Magazine points out, you may need a huge number under your belt for employers to consider hiring you. Some websites that offer these courses are Codecademy, Code School, and Skillcrush
  • Boot camp: These intensive 12–20 week programs typically require that you travel to a physical location. Though they are extremely fast paced, they offer the added benefit of recruiters who use boot camps to find dedicated, hardworking, and naturally talented candidates.
  • Back to school: As with almost any career change, you might choose to get a college/university degree in your area. While this will provide you with the skills you need to launch into your new field, it is not always the most cost- or time-efficient plan.
  • Keep up-to-date with the tech community: Though reading articles and joining online communities alone are not enough to land a job, doing so gives you access to new tricks of the trade as they develop. Check out sites like GitHub and Bitbucket to get started.

What should I be doing to get hired?

  • Practice building your own sites/apps/etc. There is no substitute for practice! The more you do, the better you will get. If you have the chance, your best programs can be material to show hiring managers exactly what you have to offer.
  • Get experience. One of the biggest things working against any career changer is lack of experience. Consider expanding yours with freelance, volunteer, or part-time work. These will grow your technology resume and even provide references for your future job search.
  • Develop a portfolio. This can take the form of a blog or website you design yourself. Update it frequently, writing about the skills you learn and applying them at the same time. While you should keep it professional, this is a great space to show off a little!
  • Network. While in-person networking is always beneficial, online connections are especially important for anyone trying to get into technology. Put some time and effort into adding links to your online portfolio and connecting with other people in the field. They might have some good pointers or be able to refer you for job openings when they come up.

Beginning your new career will not be easy, but with this action plan and the right mindset, it is well within your grasp. Get to work for an exciting future in technology!

 

Sources:

Suzanne Grossman— Thinking About a Career Change to Tech? Here's How

Laurence Bradford— How to Get a Great Job in Tech without a Background in Tech

Kelli Orrela— Exactly What You Need to Know to Break into Tech After 30

Alison Doyle— Top 10 Information Technology (IT) Soft Skills


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