Tech leaders share how to break into the tech industry
“You have to feel like a true member of the IT world before you actually become a member"
Before taking the leap into the wild world of tech careers, you must first ask yourself what's your goal of working in tech and why you want to be a part of it. Did a particular type of technology pique your interest, or is it just the entire tech field that excites you?
For Liz Beavers, senior sales engineer ITSM at SolarWinds, starting a new tech career meant leaving behind her old public relations job. Once she saw all the job opportunities in tech, Beavers saw it fit to get to work honing her technical know-how and work toward becoming a sales engineer.
“Over time, I found that I was hungry to learn more about the technology, pushing the boundaries past the ‘norm’ of what our product supported and that I truly enjoyed solving problems,” Beavers shared. “This led me to take the next step in technology as a sales engineer. As a sales engineer, I was challenged to understand the intricacies not only of our platform but of the IT world and with that came the opportunity for certifications, like ITIL 4.”
The tech industry offers many career seekers a virtually limitless supply of career opportunities. If you're already interested in the tech industry or considering switching to tech from another field, you must understand it takes time, dedication, and a commitment to always learning and growing to be successful.
Facts about working in the tech industry:
- In May 2019, the median annual wage for careers in computer and IT occupations was $88,240.
- Job opportunities in the tech industry are projected to grow 12% by 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
- Software and web developers are considered the largest and fasting growing jobs in tech.
- In 2019, there were 4.6 million tech job openings and nearly 822,000 job postings in emerging tech.
Breaking into tech means embracing constant learning
For Nikola Baldikov, digital marketing manager at Brosix, you must embrace a mindset of constant learning and development if you want to get into the tech industry. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to develop your IT skills. From pursuing an online certification to earning a bachelor’s in computer science, there are many ways to build your skill set as an IT professional.
Getting into a tech career is all about identifying an industry niche you enjoy and becoming an expert in it. Jennifer Curry, SVP of product and technology at IT infrastructure solutions provider INAP suggests finding which certifications are trending on job boards and evaluating the time and expense to obtain them.
If you’re interested in climbing the corporate ladder, Curry also recommends focusing on fine-tuning your soft skills. “The ability to translate business goals into technical reality will keep you highly sought after for the rest of your career,” Curry says.
Much like Curry, Safwaan Rahman, talent acquisition manager at The DMW Group also encourages those interested in the tech industry to get certified in their field of interest.
“Certifications are worth it,” echoed Rahman. “They really help you move into an area if you lack the experience to show credibility in understanding a particular field. If I see someone who holds CISSP for example, I am comfortable they know Information Security in depth even if their CV is focused in other areas. If you're looking to start a career in cloud, a cloud certification is the best way to help you on that journey.”
While they're great career builders, never expect a certificate to be your ticket into the tech industry. The tech industry is open and welcoming to newcomers, and certificates can be a solid basis for your tech knowledge, but Carlene Jackson, CEO of Cloud9 Insight, says individuals with a constant appetite to learn will be the most successful in their tech endeavors.
Landing a job in the tech industry
Job hunting can be a long, arduous process. From perusing the internet’s endless number of job boards to networking with those in the tech industry, landing a job in tech takes significant effort.
For Uliana Lysunets, HR manager and recruiter at KeenEthics, it’s important for applicants to begin their job search by developing a deep interest in the tech industry itself. “You have to feel like a true member of the IT world before you actually become a member,” says Lysunets.
To accomplish such a feeling, Lysunets tells aspiring tech workers to subscribe to tech blogs and newsletters, listen to IT podcasts and follow industry headliners and leaders of thought. Lysunets encourages applicants to work on developing their personal brands too.
“The IT market is oversaturated, so recruiters look for unique people. You should have your own opinion, practice critical thinking, do not follow the crowd,” says Lysunets. “Try developing your personal brand, for example, by writing a blog on Medium, recording podcasts, or speaking at community events."
Riseapps CEO, Vladlen Shulepov, encourages tech hopefuls to consider using an internship or apprenticeship as a stepping stone into the tech industry. Petra Odak, CMO at Better Proposals echoed this sentiment, adding that you should find companies that reflect your area of interest and share why you want to get started with that specific company when applying.
Don’t discount the benefits of networking events. While many people shy away from these events, connecting with others in the tech industry can be extremely valuable. Not only will it help you meet others in your field of interest, but it can also lead you to new job opportunities.
“Networking can be a little daunting when you aren’t already in the industry, but it’s something that can really help you get noticed,” says Carla Diaz, co-founder of Broadband Search.
Of course, job boards will always be one of the most useful resources you’ll have at your disposal when applying for a tech job. From national sites like Indeed to more niche boards like DataJobs, job boards are an excellent tool and can be a great way to find your first tech job.
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