There are lots of people who are considering a move into the tech industry but are quite sceptical due to having little or no experience.
However, there are various ways to break into the IT industry with zero experience, especially now that there is a lot of employment opportunities for IT-related roles. Nonetheless, building a solid career in tech takes a lot more than just knowing about computers.
While the industry is quite lucrative with lots of amazing benefits, it is also very competitive and would require you to build a strategic career path while working your way up the ladder with an entry-level role. If you’re ready to make the switch to IT from whatever industry you’re in, whether manufacturing, construction, media or medicine, here are some important steps to follow.
Leverage on your past experience
No matter what industry you are currently in, there are important ‘soft skills’ that would be particularly useful when applying for an entry-level role in the IT industry.
For example, skills like customer service, communication, proficiency with Microsoft Office are some of the common skills that are transferable into an IT role. Once you’ve decided on the right IT role for you, think carefully about some of your current transferable skills that would be relevant experience and tailor your CV to match that.
An added tip would be to attach a cover letter to every application, explaining just how your prior experience would be useful in your new role and why you’re keen on switching industries.
Acquire necessary industry certifications
This is one of the fastest ways to break into the tech industry. While a tech degree can take about 2 to 4 years to acquire, certifications can be earned in just a few weeks.
By acquiring a certification, you’re showing your potential employers that you have the skills to handle the job—and this can go a long way in making up for the lack of experience. There are many IT roles out there that require certain certifications and having them would place you ahead of a lot of candidates with few years of experience and no certifications.
While a lot of people focus on programming certifications, there are tons of other tech certifications out there. For example, certifications in ITIL, Security+ and CompTIA A+ can lay a good foundation for those who want to start a career in cybersecurity or networking.
“I think that we focus a lot on coding. But we don’t focus a lot on teaching people that there are other areas within IT that you can go into. So, you can go into cloud computing, cybersecurity, project management, software testing. Learn one or two languages, but not everyone has to be a programmer to be a successful technologist. Be open to other areas of IT,” said Kanika Tolver, career and technology coach at Learn To Code With Me.
Be open to internship roles
If you’ve got no formal experience working in the IT industry, applying for internship roles is a great way to land your first tech job. With an internship role, you can gain relevant experience that would be useful when applying for more advanced roles.
You don’t have to focus on your current earning as an intern but rather gaining enough hands-on experience to help you quickly climb to more specialized roles with a better salary scale.
Never underestimate the power of a good network. When searching for talent to fill an open position, most employers are always interested in hiring people based on a recommendation rather than interviewing numerous people they have no connection with.
Make sure to take advantage of social media, family, friends, co-workers, business partners and everyone you know who has a presence in the tech industry. By simply letting them know about your decision, they can refer you to opportunities that you may never have known about.
Having the right connection can give you a massive head start over whatever competition there is, even with zero experience. You can equally build your network by attending tech conferences, seminars and forums.
Acquire relevant tech skills
By using several online resources, you can teach yourself certain skills that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. You can even go a step further by using your skills to build projects of your own.
Search for crossover positions
It is much easier to get into a tech company with little or no experience when you’re very familiar with the industry they’re present in. This allows you to provide additional value to the company beyond the tech skills you’re bringing to the table.
Being familiar with the market gives you an added advantage and makes it easier for you to settle into the role. For example, if you’re a teacher, getting a role in EdTech would be a natural transition, the same with a lawyer transitioning to LegalTech and a doctor moving into HealthTech.
There are so many crossover positions to explore and you can draft a list of all the industries you have experience in. Use this experience to get your foot in the door, even if you have to start small in the industry you’re trying to specialize in.