How to break into the tech industry: 5 top tips to get started
The tech jobs landscape is in constant motion, and so does the demand for specific roles. If you think about the typical job description of a tech job today, it is quite likely that many of the skills required were not so important 20 years ago. And the pandemic has made this change even more rapid.
There is no doubt, though, that the most desired jobs today are tech jobs. A quick look at the best jobs list by Glassdoor says it all: Enterprise Architect, Full Stack Engineer, Data Scientist, DevOps Engineer, Machine Learning Engineer and so on. Technology companies are driving immense growth and it seems that everyone wants to be part of the action.
However, many aspiring tech individuals don’t know how to get started in this industry: so many roles, so many innovative companies. Sometimes you can really get lost, and the difference between one job or another is in the details.
Luckily, there are a few advices that could help in breaking into the tech industry, and here at Amity we know that even the least experienced can grow fast in a rapidly-paced environment. Here are some of our key learnings that could help job seekers get a position in technology, through the voice of our people.
No tech-focused degree? No problem!
You might think that having a tech or computer science degree is the first step to getting a role in the tech industry. Think again! Many tech startups and companies accept people who don’t have a degree with a specific set of skills to perform a specific role. Even the stereotypical tech positions such as developer or engineer don’t require these types of qualifications – fortunately, many of them are open to you even if you’ve just built a foundation in tech skills!
Nowadays, there are also available online courses and certifications that you could acquire. If you think that taking computer science classes for a bachelor degree is time consuming, you may consider enrolling in these courses instead.
“In the technology industry, a knowledge foundation is the most essential factor for your sustainable career. Without a strong foundation, it would be problematic once your focused technology is outdated, and yes, technology changes everyday.”
- Trust Ratch, Lead Android Engineer
Perform a skill gap analysis
When thinking about joining tech, it is also important to remember that there are a basic set of skills required to perform roles in this industry. Therefore, you might need to conduct a quick skills gap analysis to measure the difference between the skills you currently have and the ones that your potential employer requires.
Step 1: Plan
You can perform a skills gap analysis on two levels – individual and team or company.
As the team or company focused analysis is suited more towards an internal understanding of the skills needed to perform at a certain level, the individual analysis should enable you to better understand the missing expertise needed for a role in tech.
For the planning stage, you could also hire an outside evaluator that can make the process more objective and easier to understand, especially if you are having trouble with the initial parts of the analysis.
Step 2: Identify relevant skills
After you’ve planned accordingly, it is now time to actually identify the relevant skills needed to perform that job you are seeking. This should be done by answering two main questions:
- What skills does the company value?
- What skills do employees in the company need to do their jobs well now and in the future?
To answer these questions, conduct a thorough research on the company, their job descriptions, their understanding of culture and values, their business objectives. Doing so will allow you to gain a greater understanding of what skills they are looking for and how you can fill the missing pieces with your specific skill set.
On this stage, you can also create a table that visually illustrates skill prioritization, that is, what is the importance of each skill (high, moderate, low) and what is the level required for it (excellent, good, basic).
“Career opportunities in the technology industry are surprisingly diverse. You could work as a software engineer, UX or UI designer, system analyst, quality assurance (QA) engineer, etc. The same knowledge foundation is shared by each of these careers. Studying in computer science doesn’t only build a strong foundation, but also helps you explore what kind of career you'd like to continue in the future.”
- Trust Ratch, Lead Android Engineer
Step 3: Measure current skills
Measuring skills is a critical part of conducting a skills gap analysis and there are many ways that you can do this. Some of them include taking surveys and assessments, taking feedback from current workplaces and performance reviews, and even utilizing skill management softwares such as Skills Base or TalentGuard.
Alternatively, you can also measure skills by utilizing a numerical table and assigning values to each specific expertise.
Step 4: Act on the data
The final step of a skills gap analysis involves deciding on how you are going to account for the actual gap that exists between your skills and the expertise required to perform a certain role.
You can do this in many ways – taking online courses, asking your current employer to provide you with a specific skills training course, volunteering in mentorship programs, attending events and conferences, are some examples.
All in all, conducting this analysis could be time consuming, but it opens up the opportunity to truly understand what you can bring to a role, even if it’s the first time you are entering a specific industry or department.
Network, network, network
We all know the famous saying: “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” This phrase couldn’t apply more to people who want to break into tech and any other industry, for that matter.
U.S. News has found that over 70% of people land jobs through networking – it comes to no surprise then that the more people and connections you have, the better your chance is at landing that role in the tech field.
Some traditional ways of networking include attending events, conferences, and even gatherings focused on facilitating business connections between professionals. Other methods such as volunteering, attending hackathons, and harnessing the power of online platforms such as Linkedin and Facebook can also be helpful in securing a position within tech.
“Connecting with people in the tech industry fields can certainly help you gain more knowledge, learn more on their experience and receive advice that can help set you up in the right direction towards your career path goals.”
- Mark Worachote, Solutions Engineer
Stay on top of industry trends
As much as it is important to go out into the world and network to gain more connections, it is also vital to conduct research and stay on top of new trends in the technology industry – after all, establishing a professional connection means nothing if you can’t show to the other person that you are confident and knowledgeable about the subject at hand.
Luckily, these days you can count on many platforms that give you all the information and breaking news that you need to stay informed. Some of these include The Verge, Wired, TechCrunch, and even traditional social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.
Once you’ve begun to add research to your daily routine, it is only a matter of time before you start getting notifications about relevant positions in the tech world that could suit your long-term plans.
Cultivate a growth mindset
“What makes one successful in tech is not often linked to specific skills but rather a mindset. A mindset that allows individuals to rapidly and continually develop new, effective behaviors (or skills) and be able to apply them successfully as their role and (ever)changing reality of the industry demands.”
- Tereza Varvarovska, Global Talent Acquisition Lead
Once you’ve considered all the points above, it’s time to take to heart the most important advice when wanting to break into tech: Cultivate a growth mindset.
Technology is all about finding solutions to complex problems, so the more you are able to utilize your critical thinking and creativity skills, the better prepared you’ll be to tackle any roadblocks that come your way. Finally, there is no technology without innovation and a desire to push boundaries – cultivating a growth mindset means that you’ll be in a mode of constant improvement and running at the same pace of leading companies and organizations who bring exciting products to life.
Ultimately, breaking into tech can be difficult, but following a few advices and taking time to practice them can mean the difference between a successful career in the industry or a missed opportunity at a valuable role.