Pivoting into a tech career: “Nobody cares about what you’ve done”Apr 28, 2022
If you’re looking for a sign to transition into tech, this is it.
If there’s one thing you should know about launching your career in tech, it is that the opportunities are endless.
Seriously. It doesn’t matter if you only have retail experience or if you went to school to study criminology. Tech companies thrive with candidates of all backgrounds.
Here’s how we know: over 54% percent of jobs at tech companies are non-technical roles.
Let’s walk through the steps that will help you transition into the tech world and land those jobs:
- Finding room for you in tech
- Using relationships as referrals
- Creating your own experience
- Rewording your experience
Finding room for you in tech
You shouldn’t be concerned about whether your work background will cater to a career in tech because you didn’t enroll in coding courses or get another degree. Here are some common career jumps companies see from backgrounds outside the industry, written by Cameron Chapman at Skillcrush:
- Finance experience translates to Data Analyst
- Retail experience makes great Customer Support
- Sales Managers have what it takes to become Project Managers
- Editorial Assistants, Copywriters, and Journalists are fantastic Content Marketers or Digital Marketers
- Graphic Designers or Architects can be Visual or Web Designers
- Engineers become Web Developers
- Small Business Owner experience fits seamlessly with Product Managers
- Teachers have the knowledge to be Instructional Designers or Online Curriculum Designers
- Nurses have transitioned into Web Development Team Leaders
Administrative Assistants have the skillset to be great Social Media Coordinators or Digital Marketing Assistants
At the end of the day, a tech company is still a company. They drive profits. If your work can contribute to that, you’re in good standing – regardless of how many years of experience you have in another field.
Only 28% of talent acquisition leaders prefer internal candidates to fill open positions. They are seeking talent outside the company while you are looking for a way in
But sometimes determining what talent they need can be confusing. I’m sure you’ve seen those titles where you ask yourself, what does this position even do?
From “merchant success manager” to “facilitation specialist”, sometimes the titles don’t give you the full scope of the job. But you don’t have to be left wondering. Learning about your place in tech and finding what tech has to offer takes research. Luckily, there are plenty of websites that make the process easier.
A great one is Work in Tech, powered by Communitech.
You can find thousands of positions among hundreds of companies. Filter by company size, products, and job functions to explore what the market’s offering, what you like, and where you think you’ll fit best.
Using relationships as referrals
Another way to find out what is in store for you behind tech titles and their startup or legacy companies, is by talking to the people who work there.
At 3Skills, we believe, it’s not about who you know – it’s about who knows you
LinkedIn will be your best friend if you use it well.
Don’t just scroll through statuses, posts, and job recommendations. Engage with people’s content. Talk to fellow employees and jobseekers in the comments. People crave connections, and professionals on LinkedIn are usually willing to talk about their careers. It is a job networking social media site, after all.
Building these connections will be pivotal to your job search because these relationships work faster than the traditional job search process. Sometimes they will lead you to jobs you don’t even know existed.
Did you know that 95% of hiring is to fulfill existing positions? Companies keep grabbing talent from each other, so they need to keep making replacements.
The first people to know about these vacancies are the employees that notice their coworker’s desk is empty or their emails are bouncing. They are looped into internal communications so they know about available jobs all over the company. If someone you’ve built a relationship with thinks of you before the job posting goes up, you’re ahead of the pack.
So how do you build those relationships and get those referrals?
A good place to start is finding people who look like you, think like you, or work like you.
People who look like you
If you’re a woman, a person of colour, a person with a visible disability, or if you fall into any other group that is underrepresented in tech, find those few people. They understand the barriers to entry. They understand the insecurity. They understand how crucial any career advice or mentorship would be to you. They are most likely eager to pay it forward and bring more people like them into their industry through referrals.
People who think like you
Remember those comment sections? Look for people who share the same opinions as you on those controversial posts and reply with a comment of your own to show your support. If you’re up for a challenge, look for people who you don’t necessarily agree with, but who you see are having respectful disagreements. Tell them you appreciate the new perspective they introduced you to.
Send these people a direct message to continue the conversation and introduce yourself. You’ve established rapport, you’re building a relationship, and when the time comes, you can ask them to keep their eyes open for any roles you would fit so you can land that referral.
People who work like you
Look at people’s LinkedIn profiles to learn more about their background and where your work overlaps. Maybe they have the same certificate, diploma, or degree as you. Maybe they went to the same school. Maybe they had similar roles or volunteer interests. This can be the vital information that helps you break the ice and bridge a connection.
Building relationships with people you don’t know can seem awkward at first, but LinkedIn was designed for this. People expect to be approached and some people really love it.
But remember to be respectful of their time – they are taking time out of their day to speak with you. A great way to do that is to identify what your goal is before you connect with them.
- Do you want a position like them?
- Do you want to work at their tech company specifically?
- Do you want them to connect you to someone else or are their insights your goal?
Once you know what you want, you can share what you have to offer better – and you can tell them your goal too. You can begin building a relationship where you are seen as committed and quality talent, and your new connections can be confident anytime they send you job openings or bring your name up in a room.
Creating your own experience
A great place to start building that talent is by looking at your hobbies. You don’t have to have a business plan behind them. You don’t even have to excel at them – yet. Think of something you’re skilled at. Something you either charge very little for, or don’t charge at all. Let’s transform that.
Do you love to write? Are you the friend who does everyone’s makeup? Are you a great photographer? Is your home aesthetic Pinterest-worthy?
Have you tutored in the past – are you tutoring currently? Do you have a podcast or a YouTube channel? Are you handy enough with tools to manage home renovations?
All of these hobbies and skill sets are talents that can be leveraged as experience. All you need is consistency and demonstrable results.
Turn your writing into a blog, consider watching a few SEO videos, and track your website analytics. Before you know it, you’re a communications star – creating content, copywriting, and even digital marketing expertise.
If your hobby involves art like makeup, photography, or interior design, create a portfolio and sell your services. Birthdays, weddings, and baby showers are year-round and very Instagrammable. Take advantage of this by creating art on these occasions, finding new clients at the functions, and selling your art again. You’ve now produced, marketed, and sold your services – and you have customer testimonials to prove it.
If you’re a solid tutor, it means you’re a great communicator. You can take complex subject areas and change them into plain language. You can also design lessons to support problem-solving. Your ability to advance your students’ knowledge of their courses is also your ability to advance clients or partners' understanding of what your future tech company has to offer.
If you have a podcast or a YouTube channel, you are a full package deal. You can create content, you have technical skills, you can manage projects, and you are a community-builder.
If you work well enough with your hands to handle the small or even big renovations in your house, you can also work on project coordination. You assess the project, make a schedule, create a budget, determine the necessary supplies and tools. The amount of work that happens before you even pick up the hammer is what companies need for their portfolios to flourish.
Rewording your experience
But you don’t have to translate what you like to do in your free time to your tech experience. Your tech pipeline can be closer to your current career than you think.
Tech companies support all industries. Retail, health, law, banking, hospitality, research, energy, media, transportation. Consider all the tech startups in Canada.
Reflect on your current career and consider the business and tech possibilities. Find the intersection where your pre-tech experience meets your soon-to-be tech company. Take advantage of your proximity to the industries they are investing in, streamlining, making more accessible, and mass-producing. You are the expert, so you have an informed role.
After you accept that no matter where you’ve come from, there’s room for you in tech, you’re ready to tell the hiring manager why you’re the right fit.
3Skills co-founder Tobi Oluwole said it best:
“Nobody cares about what you’ve done. They care about what they’re trying to accomplish.”
As an apprentice, college, or university student, you have demonstrated that you can learn, apply your knowledge, and produce results. As an entry-level or mid-career employee, you have experience in the workforce and know how to drive your employer’s mission.
All you have to do is show your future employer that you are the candidate to jump into the role they are trying to fill. This is why the job posting is pivotal to your success as a candidate. Getting your foot in the door in tech is a game of communication.
On episode three of 3Skills’ Building Your Dream Career podcast, 3Skills co-founder Marianne Encina said your resume should mirror the job posting. “Whatever the hiring manager is looking for, is whatever is relevant on your resume right now.”
Lead with what the company wants from you. If the position you seek is about driving sales, talk about your retail experience, your marketing skills, your service delivery.
If the post describes your role with tech jargon like “synergy” and “optimization” and “innovation”, use those words too. This tells the company you’re receptive to what they want, and you’ll give them what they need.
Ask yourself what you can offer, consider the talent they are searching for, communicate that you can exceed their expectations, and hit the ground running into the tech world.
Transition into Tech
If you’re wondering what to do now with all the information you’re sitting on, feel free to connect with anyone on the 3Skills team.
3Skills is rolling out another semester of Project Pivot, a virtual program that trains people to transition into new roles and industries – without taking a pay cut.
Live weekly coaching, a structured curriculum with access to video training and step-by-step guides, and a connection with a community of successful instructors and fellow job seekers.
The next program starts May 30. Apply by May 15 to begin your transition into tech.