The tech industry has been strong over the last several years: IT unemployment continues to shrink, salaries inch higher each year and innovation continues to create exciting career opportunities. These factors make technology an appealing field to those both inside — and outside — the tech world.
In fact, 75 percent of non-IT professionals polled in a just-completed Robert Half Technology survey said tech jobs were appealing to them. Increases in salaries and job opportunities are obviously very attractive, but close behind are the chances to learn and innovate.
With so much appeal, how can a non-technology professional transition to a tech job? And will employers consider those with non-traditional backgrounds when adding to their technology staff? Many tech jobs require a college degree and training, but some have fewer barriers to entry and can be attractive career paths for those who are looking to transition into the field.
Here are five strategies non-tech pros can follow to make a career transition to the tech industry:
- Do your research. Check out online job postings, or take a look at the job descriptions in our recent Salary Guide, to get a sense of what skills employers are looking for in your local market. When you understand the skills in demand for tech positions, you can emphasize your transferrable skills. Those might include interpersonal skills, proven analytical and problem-solving abilities, a customer-friendly attitude, strong communication skills and the ability to work as a contributing team player.
- Identify gaps. While you may not have the specific hands-on experience necessary for an IT job yet, identify the gaps in your work experience and consider taking tech training courses to fill them. Where appropriate, you might also seek IT certifications. Training and certifications, in combination with your work experience and interpersonal skills, can better position you for consideration and separate you from other candidates.
- Be flexible. Remain open to positions that may be below your experience level: Accepting a lower-level role may be required for a career transition into the field. Help desk and desk side support roles, for example, certainly require some technical proficiency, but can be good entry-level jobs for non-tech pros. If you have a customer service mindset and a proven track record of problem-solving, the help desk can be a great starting role to transition into the technology field.
- Show your passion. Many hiring managers are looking for candidates who love to learn and are inquisitive by nature. Demonstrating interest in technology in your spare time can add to your credibility as a candidate for some tech jobs. If you’ve created a website or mobile app for fun, or built computers or robots, you can demonstrate your passion for technology, as well as some tangible, hands-on experience.
- Leverage your network. Your professional network is a great resource when considering a career change. The people who know your skills and experience are best positioned to help you tap into opportunities that are a match for you. They can also be an advocate for you as you make your career transition. Additionally, start a dialog with your company’s IT team about a transition. (Just make sure you keep your manager in the loop.) While you may be light on practical experience, your knowledge of company systems and business objectives can distinguish you from those outside the company who may have a bit more technical experience, but lack valuable internal knowledge.
It’s an exciting time to consider breaking into the tech industry. Due to a shallow talent pool of experienced tech pros, many IT hiring managers are more open-minded about non-traditional candidates. In fact, I continue to meet individuals who have successfully made the leap.
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