How to make a career change into the tech sector

By Robert Half on 05/01/2024
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

Consider a graduate entering the world of work: they might feel daunted, excited or somewhere in between. They might have a career planned out or remain unsure which sector will suit them best. Either way, it’s a time of change, as they focus their interests and skills towards employment. Whatever they are feeling, one thing is for sure: they have grown up in a society dominated by technology. From smart phones to instant messaging, online retail – and now artificial intelligence – major digital trends have taken hold in their lifetimes. Not all of them will have studied a technology-related degree, of course but that doesn’t really matter. As digital natives, they will be able to adopt modern technology with little help. And the tech sector needs more than just technical skills.

Two routes into tech

Here are two routes aspiring graduates could take to get a career in tech.

  1. First, they could use their degree to start a graduate role in a business and move towards a technology role. It’s far easier to move in a particular direction once they are inside the company. People who work in business analysis, for example, often come from a general business background. They develop strong working relationships and gain an understanding of the technology platforms along the way. They can bridge the technical and analytical elements of a business and translate those well to others. Their skills are also widely applicable, from data mining to artificial intelligence; not everyone has to be a coding expert.
  2. Secondly, graduates could find an internship in technology and focus on gathering knowledge. As they work with a business, or with multiple businesses, they could take online certifications to enhance their understanding and employability. It’s also important they consider networking. Events and meetups are common in the tech sector, and a graduate might meet someone with years of experience, who can advise them, for example. People buy from people, and they can begin to create their own luck. They might even become aware of roles before they hit the open market.

In either case, employers will be interested in their transferable skills. Communication style, project management experience, and even curiosity and showing initiative, are good examples. They can also stand out from others by filming a video on YouTube or taking part in a podcast episode. Businesses will often hire for potential and much of that is based on attitude and soft skills. In the tech sector, businesses are increasingly looking for well-rounded candidates.

When they do get to interview, either for a graduate role or an internship, we would invite them to consider this scenario: imagine they are being interviewed alongside three other people. This will help them to think about what they are good at, their transferable skills, and how they can differentiate themselves. Their ability to package and sell their skills and experience will make all the difference when the right opportunity comes along.

A diverse sector offers diverse roles

Technology and business are getting closer together. This trend is creating multiple opportunities for graduates which are far broader than just technical roles. Businesses need strong communicators alongside analytical and creative thinkers. They will also hire people based on cultural fit because, while it’s harder to change someone’s personality, you can develop their technical ability. In addition, we have observed that graduates with a mathematical education or degree find it particularly easy to enter IT, especially when it comes to data, data models, databases, and data analytics – but also non-IT or mathematics-related degrees are in demand, especially in the rapidly growing field of artificial intelligence, such as to become a Prompt Engineer.

So, when graduates are thinking about how to get a career in tech, their chances are many and varied – with or without a technology-related degree. There is something for everyone, and different ways for them to succeed, in a fast-growing industry.

 

Mark Bennett has been recruiting in the Technology space since 2007. First starting his recruitment career in the UK, he has been operating in Sydney since 2012. He personally recruits in the permanent Project Services space, but also manages the Tech team that as a collective recruit across Project Services, Software Development & Testing, Data Engineering, and Infrastructure & Security.

Christian Schmitz is Head of Technology Germany at Robert Half. The tech expert has been advising companies across all industries on all aspects of IT and their digitalization programs with a focus on consulting and recruitment, including global market leaders and DAX40 companies. He has extensive expertise in enterprise technologies such as SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce and ServiceNow and covers business and IT alignment, new ways of working and digital enablement.

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