Whether you’re transitioning from the military, sick of working in a dead-end job, or just want to do something different, everybody has different reasons to transfer into the tech industry.
Maybe IT and tech has been a passion of yours for as long as you can remember. Perhaps you just want to take advantage of the lucrative salaries on offer. Or, you could just be looking for a new challenge.
Either way, there’s no denying that the tech and IT industry is hot right now. And there are tons of different avenues to explore. From cyber security and data science to the Internet of Things and SaaS, there are many fantastic reasons to consider joining the tech industry.
And, the timing couldn’t be better if you’re looking to get into the IT side of things. The IT industry is currently suffering from a huge shortage of professionals, yet it offers awesome pay, great benefits, and a myriad of opportunities for employment and progression.
But, here’s the catch – you’ve got no relevant experience. But don’t let that hold you back! Here are some strategies to help you get your foot in the door of the thriving technology and IT industry, even if you’re inexperienced and fresh.
#1. Get a Relevant Degree:
If you’re considering enrolling in college to facilitate your career change or help you get out of a dead-end job, there are plenty of relevant programs to choose from. If you want to get into the tech and IT industry, you can major in a wide range of subjects depending on the pathway you’re considering. Computer science is a good place to start if you’re not sure where you’d like to specialize, or you could choose a major in:
- Data analytics
- Computer engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Data science
Already gained your bachelor’s degree? Don’t worry – there’s no need to tear your hair out with regret, wondering why you didn’t study for a relevant subject back then. The good news is that regardless of what your bachelor’s degree is in, you’re still in with a chance of getting into the industry.
In fact, many employers are happy to train new IT staff and the mere fact you’re clever enough to get a degree in anything will be enough for them to give you a chance.
But if that doesn’t work, then you can always top up your education. If you’ve gained a degree in a STEM subject already, you might want to direct your qualifications towards your chosen industry by getting a masters of computer science from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Not got a STEM degree? Don’t fret; you can still find non-degree programs both online and offline in computer science, coding, and much more.
#2. Apply Your Past Experience to the Industry:
Once you’ve made the decision to pursue a career in IT and tech, it’s important to spend some time taking a thorough look at your past work experience.
It may be that you have gained more ‘soft skills’ that are transferable into the IT and tech industry than you realize.
For example, if you’re looking to start your IT career in a help desk role – a common starting point – then you’ll do well if you’ve already got the following skills:
- Customer service
- Microsoft Office and other common computer programs
- Time management
Think carefully about the past roles that you have worked in and look at them through the lens of the position that you want to work in. You may find a wealth of experience that you can actually use.
Once you’ve figured out which skills you can transfer, you’ll need to create a new resume that’s tailored to the IT and tech industries. Even better; read job descriptions and person specifications for the roles that you are interested in and tailor your resume to each vacancy you apply for.
LinkedIn is a good resource to use for job finding, and potential employers are likely to look at your profile. Now is a good time to update your profile and include any skills that could be relevant to your ideal role.
#3. Get Industry Certifications:
As mentioned earlier, you might find it difficult to get into a relevant master’s degree program if you don’t already have a STEM bachelor’s degree.
Maybe you just don’t have the time to spend four years getting a relevant degree. So, what can you do?
Getting certified is possibly one of the quickest ways to break into the field of IT. And certifications can be studied for and gained in just a few months or even weeks, depending on the amount of time that you have to dedicate to them.
Entry level certifications include:
These are all great courses to enroll in if you’re looking to land an entry level position in tech or IT, and will make your resume stand out among others in your position. In addition, you could spend time learning one or more of the programming languages:
● Java: One of the most popular programming languages, used for building video games, mobile apps, and server-side applications. It’s portable and runs easily across multiple software platforms.
● Ruby: Also known as Ruby on Rails, its mainly used for web apps. It’s straightforward to learn and has many potential uses.
● Python: There’s a Python framework for practically everything. One of the easiest programming languages to learn, with a simple, straightforward syntax.
● C: Often the first programming language you’ll learn in college. It’s easy to learn and apps written in C will run pretty much anywhere.
● C#: The language used to develop Microsoft Apps and popular among game developers. Syntactically, it’s almost identical to Java.
● PHP: Often used for app development and dynamic-heavy websites. PHP powers massive sites like Facebook. It’s an open-source language, so there are loads of free, pre-built modules you can modify.
● Objective-C: The programming language behind iOS apps.
● SQL: Ideal for big data. SQL allows you to siphon data from huge databases. It’s not used alone in terms of software development.
#4. Harness the Power of Networking:
Maybe you’ve already worked in a career where networking is an important component, so you already understand how important it is.
But networking isn’t just for business professionals! Never underestimate how important your connections can be when looking to get your tech and IT career started.
When looking to hire a new starter, many employers prefer to take somebody on based on a recommendation, rather than a total stranger they’ve never heard of. This is where your networking skills come in.
Reach out to anybody you know who’s associated with the tech world. Ask for recommendations, tips, and job leads. This is where you can really use social media to its full potential. LinkedIn is a fantastic online networking tool. Make sure that you connect with as many people in the industry as possible; add individuals and join industry groups.
Some networking tips to keep in mind when using LinkedIn include:
Do: Treat your profile as a professional brochure. Remember this social network is where you share your best side. Keep it professional; save the memes for Facebook or Twitter.
Don’t: Randomly connect. Before you connect with another user, it pays to learn a little bit more about them. This is especially true if you plan to send them a message and reach out further.
Do: Be active in groups. Industry groups are a fantastic tool for getting you noticed if you treat them properly. Share information that you are interested in and respond to posts thoughtfully.
Don’t: Be inactive. It’s OK if you don’t find something worth sharing multiple times a day, but try and keep your profile alive. Once a week, make the effort to post a thought-invoking status, share an interesting blog post or video, or ask a question.
Do: Make meaningful connections: There’s a lot of spam going around on LinkedIn, and users can spot someone who’s looking to make a meaningful connection right away. Before reaching out, take some time to explore the user’s profile and find some common ground.
#5. Be Prepared to Work Your Way Up:
Finally, it’s important to accept the fact that you might need to ‘start over’ when pursuing a career change to the IT and tech industry. This can be a hard pill to swallow if you’re working in a position of authority in your current career.
The good news is that your previous experience will stand you in good stead when it comes to management vacancies in your new industry. But you will need to gain industry-related experience first.
And, you get out of IT and tech what you put in; if you’re willing to put the work in, you could be earning far more than you are now in just a few years time. It’s all down to you.
Are you considering switching careers to the IT and tech industry?Featured photo by Maxwell Ridgeway