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Technology hasn’t only changed how we live, consume, and interact — it’s also radically increased the number of career options open to us.
Historically, the tech industry was largely dominated by men. While the stereotype of the young, male coder dies hard, women are now pursuing technology careers in record numbers, encouraged by forward-thinking companies who understand the advantages of building a diverse workforce. For the same reason, older professionals and people from historically disadvantaged groups are also being warmly welcomed into the technology sector.
There are many benefits to a career in tech. Sacha Kalusevic, a Senior Director of Technology recruitment, lists some of the advantages. “You’ll receive a highly competitive salary and have the opportunity to move quickly and easily between sectors and roles,” he says. “It’s a career defined by constant evolution and progression, and that’s what makes it so exciting.”
Another reason for moving into tech is that you’ll be picking up skills the market is desperate to access. “There’s a scarcely believable shortage of tech talent right now,” says Michael Andris, Senior Director at Page Personnel. “If you’re an IT professional, there’s an employer out there that wants to hire you. The most sought-after positions include entry and mid-level helpdesk consultants and network administrators.”
Excited by the idea of a tech career but not sure where to start? We have you covered. Here are some actions you can take today to put yourself on the fast track to IT success.
From project managers to cybersecurity administrators, many IT professionals spend more time interacting with people than they do with machines. “Soft skills like emotional intelligence, active listening and good business sense are incredibly valuable for people in tech,” says Minh, an executive manager in Belgium. “You need to be able to see things from both the end user’s and the company’s perspective.”
To hone soft skills like communication, volunteer for projects that require you to interact with multiple people, from colleagues to customers. Also, try to model your behavior on successful people you encounter, whether that’s your manager, a mentor or someone else. What makes them an effective communicator? How do they react when put under pressure?
Not everyone can learn new IT skills on the job. Instead of letting that frustrate you, invest some time and energy in earning an introductory IT certification.
CompTIA A+ is a foundational certificate that can help you establish a career in IT. It covers skills ranging from hardware and networking to operating systems and cybersecurity. Depending on your areas of interest, other entry-level certifications worth considering are Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) and Microsoft 365 Fundamentals.
With an entry-level IT certification under your belt, you can put the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired into practice in an entry-level position. For mid-career professionals, that might mean taking a step down from your current role in terms of salary and seniority. Don’t worry — if you’re passionate about technology and have the drive and determination to learn new skills every day, you will quickly move up the ladder in your new field.
Nothing impresses a hiring manager more than a candidate who has chosen to upskill themselves outside working hours. Aside from the entry-level certifications mentioned above, there are countless online platforms where you can learn a programming language or the fundamentals of cloud computing at your own speed. Other ways to acquire technical skills outside your regular routine include volunteering for cross-functional IT projects and shadowing tech professionals in your current organization.
Sacha makes the point that while there’s no age barrier to tech careers these days, “recruiters tend to favor candidates who have a background in a digital-first sector, or who have used tools such as customer management software.” So, before you jump ship to another industry, search for opportunities in your current organization or sector where you can use some of the hard skills you’ve already acquired.
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