Are you dying to get a job in tech, but don’t have a background in tech?
If yes, then this post by Joyce Akiko, a career transition expert, is what you need to read!
Below she shares five steps on how you can start moving towards your dream career in tech… even if your background has nothing to do with tech.
Do you want a job in tech, but don’t have a computer science degree? Or do you already know how to code, but don’t know how to break into the industry?
If you said “yes”, then this article is for you.
Below I share five actions you can start doing today to jumpstart your career transition into tech. And no, you don’t have to leave your current job right away.
In fact, you can start implementing all these tips without leaving the security of your nine to five until you’re ready to make the leap.
Step 1: Get in the Right Head Space
If you’re like most people, you have a well-practiced talent for setting up mental barriers and making excuses to not change your behavior:
- “But I don’t want to look like a flake!”
- “I’m just not motivated enough.”
- “What if I change industries and am still unhappy?”
Take a moment and reflect on whatever your gut reflex says when you think about switching from your current job…into a tech job.
Then, refocus on your big picture objective. And ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you want a new job in tech?
- What matters to you when it comes to work?
- Why is that important to you?
- What are your hopes and dreams about work, and what are your fears?
Form the big picture objective in your mind.
Action Item #1: When you become sidetracked by your own fears and excuses, acknowledge it. Then, refocus on your big picture objective instead.
Step 2: Research Dream Companies and Awesome Job Openings
Make a shortlist of your dream companies:
The companies you’d give anything to work for.
Also, make sure to write down why you want to work for those companies. It’s best to have two to three solid reasons. (This will come up again later.)
Next, dig up job descriptions for openings you’d love to fill:
Don’t find them with the intention of applying just yet — find them with the intention of uncovering your weak spots. AKA your knowledge gaps.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your knowledge gaps?
- Do you need to learn how to code?
- Are there certain systems you need to become well-versed in?
Write it all down in one list.
Now here’s the fun part:
You’re going to tackle this list and close your knowledge gaps.
Realize that this is not a fast process. At all.
I frequently remind people that switching career paths cannot be related to a get-rich-quick scheme. Closing your knowledge gaps takes time and effort. It takes months or even years of solid dedication, persistence, and consistency.
You are essentially undergoing a self-led evolution, a journey of purposeful growth and exploration. This is an epic adventure, not a shoddy rush job.
The amount of time you spend on your transition will directly relate to the amount of transferable skills you already have on your resume. Moreover, the amount of time you’re willing to put into gaining new skills and experience.
I encourage you to know in advance that this process will take a lot of time and effort. It’s best to accept and embrace it rather than getting frustrated and going back to the same old day-to-day.
Remember, it is possible:
I did it. Laurence did it. You can do it, too.
Don’t let yourself get daunted by the long road ahead. See it as an expedition.
Yes, you’ll have to carve out time you could otherwise spend watching Netflix or something equally productive.
“But..but I need time to unwind!” I hear you.
“I come home and I just don’t have any energy.” I hear you, too.
And I would like to gently remind you to refocus on your big picture objective, your life goals, and to get back to it.
(By the way, did you know that just by waking up two hours earlier every morning you gain an entire month of productive time to your year?)
Action Item #2: Identify five to ten skills you’d need to learn to land your dream job. Schedule time to start learning at least one in the upcoming week.
Step 3: Build an Online Brand to Establish Your Voice in the Industry
As you close your knowledge gaps, begin to build an online presence.
This presence will become your personal brand. It will be a testament to your growing experience in tech. It will also showcase your resourcefulness, drive, and efficacy in a way that no resume ever could.
Don’t know how to build a website? No problem! There are tons of resources that can show you how.
Don’t know what to talk about on your new website? Write a blog post for every newly closed knowledge gap.
Build your website with the following intentions in mind:
- Showcase your growing knowledge, skills and abilities
- Help others learn while you learn (Learn to Code With Me is an excellent example)
When approaching your website from these two angles instead of just one, your readership will grow naturally and authentically.
Readers will send positive feedback, which you can quote on your site. Even more, readers can help widen your network and provide referrals.
Action Item #3: Start a blog where you can write about the new skills you’re learning.
Step 4: Connect with Strong Influencers and Gain Personal Champions
Get on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Download the LinkedIn profile checklist
Created with aspiring techies in mind.
Reach out to people who work at your dream companies. Ask them if they’d be up for chatting over coffee. Let them know that you want to have an informational interview.
Your goal is to find out what it’s really like to work for that company. Share why you want to work there (as discovered in step one) and ask them for any advice on scoring a position.
Here are some questions you can ask:
- Do you remember what the interview process was like?
- Can you share helpful resources?
- Do you have any recommended books?
- Would you make an introduction to anyone else?
Get as much information as possible about the person, the workplace, and the company.
Then, as soon as you get home from your meeting, send a follow-up email.
Reiterate key takeaways from the conversation. Give particular emphasis on any advice given and how you plan to follow up on it…without writing a novel. Keep it within two paragraphs or less.
Here’s the most important part:
Actually take their advice and let them know your results. Do this within 7 days.
This will demonstrate that you are truly passionate about working for the company. And that you are a go-getter who follows through. Which will earn you even more respect from new connections.
You can continue to build that respect by following up every few weeks with articles they might find interesting or news of your continued progress.
These connections will quickly become your champions, rooting you on from within the company, and even sharing information on job openings that haven’t been announced yet. Which means you can send your resume directly to the hiring manager (by asking your champion to introduce you) before your competition even finds out about the opening.
Action Item #4: Identify five people who are influencers in your dream field and ask if they’d like to meet for coffee – if they say no or don’t respond, ask someone else.
Step 5: Embrace Your Current Job Until You’re Ready to Leave
Transitioning into tech without a background in tech will not happen overnight. In most cases, it would wise to stick with your current job until you have enough savings to float you for awhile or you have a dream job lined up.
Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer 40+ hours a week in the meantime.
Here is an important distinction that can directly alter your mindset and mood at work:
Your life is composed of choices, not circumstances.
It’s easy for us to complain about our circumstances and believe that those circumstances shaped our lives, made our decisions for us and kept us where we are today. In reality, however, it’s the choices we make when faced with circumstances that direct our life’s path.
Take a flat tire, for example. If you’re on your way to work and get a flat tire, is it the tire’s fault that you missed a day of work and got nothing done? Not really.
You could have called a friend and gotten a ride. You could have shown up late but done double the work in half the time. There are an infinite number of actions you could have chosen, each with a different result.
Almost everything in your life is the result of choices you’ve made:
- You chose whatever degree you got
- You chose the job you have
- You chose to keep showing up at that job, day after day
No one forced you to do those things. You chose to do them.
Acknowledging that you have choice gets you back in control of your life. You start making better, more conscious choices based on where you are and where you want to be.
This seemingly small mindset shift will cause significant changes in how you feel. You will become happier, more fulfilled and satisfied.
Once you see all the choices available, you can:
- Choose more positive and productive actions at work
- Take on new responsibilities and make new friends
- Make the most of your time in that role until you’re ready to leave
- Accept your job as a temporary safety net, stepping stone, or opportunity to learn and grow
Action Item #5: Reframe your life view. You are in control, not your circumstances.
Conclusion: Next Steps to Landing Your Dream Career
Are you ready to land an awesome job in tech without a background in tech? Great!
Now, here’s your homework:
Action Item #1: When you get stopped by your fears and excuses, acknowledge it– then refocus on your big picture objective instead.
Action Item #2: Identify five to ten skills you need to learn to land your dream job, and schedule time to start learning at least one in the next week.
Action Item #4: Identify five people who are influencers in your dream field and ask if they’d like to meet for coffee.
Action Item #5: Reframe your life view. You are in control, not your circumstances.
Special thanks to Joyce for sharing such awesome information!
If you’re looking to transition into tech and want to make extra money while learning how to code, I’d love to invite you to my brand new workshop: The Simple 4-Part Framework for Landing Technical Side Gigs.
Inside this totally free training, I’ll show you how to land technical side gigs so you can earn extra income while improving your skill set. Hope to see you inside!
About the Author, Joyce Akiko
Joyce helps people make amazing career transitions, specifically into tech roles like coding. In this beautiful, amazing digital age, it IS possible to forge a new path based on true interests and self-learned skills rather than traditional degrees!