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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 2020, the median annual wage for careers in computer and IT occupations was $91,250.
  • Job opportunities in the tech industry are projected to grow 13% by 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • There's projected to be 178,00 new tech jobs in 2022.
  • In 2022, there were 3.6 million job postings in tech.

Breaking into tech means embracing constant learning 

Those wanting to get into the technology industry need to start thinking of themselves as constantly learning and developing, according to Nikola Baldikov, Brosix’s digital marketing manager.

The good news is that there are hundreds of different ways you can study and fine tune your IT abilities. You might go to university and earn a bachelor degree in computer science or even find a suitable certification online. There are plenty of different routes to pursue to build up your tech skills and work as an IT professional.

First, you need to become an expert in an industry niche that you have an interest in. A good place to start is trawling job boards to see which certifications are popular and investigating which are worth the time and expense to acquire them, says Jennifer Curry, product and technology SVP at INAP, an IT infrastructure solutions provider.

Curry also encourages fine tuning your soft skills, especially if you’re interested in climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder. “The ability to translate business goals into technical reality will keep you highly sought after for the rest of your career,” Curry says.

Safwaan Rahman, a talent acquisition manager at the DMW Group, believes that, like Curry, if you work in the tech industry you should try to get certified in a field that interests you.

“Certifications are worth it,” said 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.”

Although a certification can add more to your portfolio, and demonstrate you know what you’re talking about, don’t expect them to be a golden ticket into the industry. Carlene Jackson, Cloud9 Insight’s CEO, believes that the industry is welcoming to newcomers and certificates are useful for establishing a strong bedrock of your tech knowledge. Those with a hunger to learn new things will be the ones who are the most successful, she thinks.

Landing a job in the tech industry

If you’ve ever had to search for a new job, you probably know that hunting for one can be a long, challenging, journey. It takes a lot of effort and energy to find a job in tech, especially considering the amount of job boards you have to trawl through or networking events you have to take part in.

It’s important for jobseekers to start their search by ensuring they have a firm commitment and interest to the tech industry itself, says Uliana Lysunets, recruiter and HR manager at KeenEthics. “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.

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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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