21 Apr 2017 How to Transition into a Tech Career
We’re in the era of digital job titles—roles like senior software developer, web content manager, and information systems analysts are popping up on job boards everywhere. If you aren’t technically inclined these roles may feel out of reach, but the truth is anyone can transition into these positions with some determination and a willingness to learn.
According to the 2016 TechTalentBC report, the tech sector in British Columbia will need thousands of individuals to fill key roles within local tech companies—so if you are looking to making a move now is the time.
As with any new job or hobby you are going to have to spend some time learning. Depending on the type of role you’re going for the time you need to develop your skills will vary. Here are the three ways you can gain the skills necessary to landing your tech gig.
Self-study. There are thousands of free and paid online resources that can teach you the ins and outs of the position of your choice. The key here is to create a dedicated study schedule and stick to it (You may want to cancel your Netflix subscription for a few months). Here are a just a few sites with a great selection of courses to get you started:Part-time study. If self-study isn’t for you and you aren’t ready to quit your job for a full-time program a part-time night/weekend course will work best for you. These courses are designed to teach you a lot in short period so be prepared for some homework. Here are some of our favorite local schools.
*These schools offer both full-time and part-time options.
Full-time study. If you can afford the time off a full immersion into learning your new craft is the ideal solution for landing your next job. Depending on the type of role that you are going for the requirements for getting hired will vary. Some companies will require a bachelor’s degrees and others won’t —the most important thing to remember if you don’t have a degree is that most employers will want you to be able to demonstrate your abilities and be as knowledgeable as someone who does have one.
If you aren’t willing to spend four years getting a degree there are some accelerated options that will get you into your next role much faster. There are many post-secondary institutions around the province that offer 1-2 year diploma programs. These condensed programs are known to produce skilled graduates who are highly sought after by employers. If you’re short on time programs like CodeCore’s and Lighthouse Lab’s coding bootcamps are 8-12 weeks and will give you the knowledge you need to land your next role.
Guess what? Your resume is not going to land you a job. You need a portfolio and it has to be good. The competition for jobs is stiff and strong portfolio can differentiate you from the dozens of other people who’ve applied for the same job. Regardless of the job type it’s important to show your potential and a strong portfolio is great way to do just that. Building an online showcase of your work no longer requires bumming favours from your tech savvy friends, all you need is some time and bit of creativity. Sites like Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress make building your portfolio easy.
The old saying “It’s not what you know but who you know,” applies now more than ever. Landing a job a tech company is all about connections. Startups get hundreds of resumes each month—the best way to guarantee an interview is to have a friend or connection refer you to the hiring manager.
Network. Get out of your comfort zone and go to some tech events, while there make a goal of meeting 3-5 people. You never know which connection will end up being the one that gets you in the door. Make sure to get everyone’s contact info, so you can send a quick note to follow-up on your meeting.
Find a mentor. Not only are mentors great for professional development and guidance, they can also help you find your next job. Your mentor will likely have a network of people who know and trust them—a reference from them will go a long way.
Switching careers doesn’t mean everything that you’ve learned and done so far need be thrown out. Use those skills and your experience to your advantage. Unlike those who are applying for jobs straight out of you school, you have a wealth of experience to pull from and will be able to outperform those with little to no work experience. Your former work experience will also give you a unique perspective that others in tech may not have.
Looking to transition into a tech job? Check out the 2016 TechTalent Report for a complete list of the most in demand tech jobs.