Regardless of what type of job you’re applying for, the hiring manager will probably ask you a question like, "What previous experience do you have?" If you have very little or no experience in that role or field, your chances of success decrease significantly. Landing that job is not impossible, though; you just need to prepare thoroughly and consider some of the advice we’re about to share, which may help you compensate for your lack of experience with other advantages. Read on to find out how to get a job at a tech company without any experience.
Start with a non-tech job
It can be said that all positions at your average IT company can be divided into two types: tech jobs and non-tech ones. Though not impossible, it’s definitely more difficult for a person without experience to get a tech position than to get a non-tech one. If you have no experience, HR may take into account any professional courses and certifications you may have, your soft skills, your general background, and your motivation to acquire the necessary skills. In some cases, you might find success. That said, it could be even easier to try and get your desired tech job by moving into it from a non-technical one.
Let's consider the following scenario. You want to get a tech job, like as a software developer, but you don’t yet have the necessary experience and skills for it, and your more experienced and trained competitors seem to be better candidates. In this case, you can apply for a non-tech position at the same company, such as marketer or sales manager, for example.
So let's say you get a position as a marketing specialist. After working there for some time, you considerably improve your tech skills and knowledge, and then you apply for a developer position. But by this time, you know:
- The product you’d be working with well, including its advantages and disadvantages and what customers want out of it.
- The specifics of that particular industry segment, including competitors and their distinctive qualities.
- About how the company runs—plus, your (future) fellow engineers already know and trust you.
All of this can give you an advantage even over more experienced and tech-skilled competitors, significantly increasing your chances of success. To make such a shift even more effective, choose an adjacent area for a more natural transition. For example:
- Teacher → Educational Platform Developer
- Nurse → Medical Equipment Tester
- Real estate agent → Architect of real estate technical systems
- Ecologist → Tech Developer of green systems
Present yourself well
Knowing how to present yourself and your skills is also paramount to landing a job of any type, especially in tech. Here are some tips to consider.
Emphasize your strengths
Since you don’t have a previous tech job to talk about, emphasize the strengths and skills you learned from whatever your previous job(s) were. Talk about your main three to five tasks in a few of your past positions and how you managed them. Take care to highlight any general experience that might be transferable.
Create (or update) your LinkedIn profile
Most HR specialists in tech use LinkedIn, so if you don't yet have a profile there, it's time to create one. If you do have one, take the time to update it and focus all the information on the job you’re trying to get. For example, you might add any new courses, certifications, volunteer work, or anything else that reflects your interest in tech. Recruiters don’t only look for experienced gurus. If you present yourself well there, you’re more likely to get noticed.
Get experience by volunteering or interning
If you don’t yet have tech experience, you should focus on getting some. Even a short-term or part-time internship, for example, can be valuable. You could also consider volunteering your time on a project. Think about ways you might be able to gain some real-world, hands-on experience in the tech field.
Take specialized tech courses
A successfully completed tech course and certificate show that you have a theoretical background and some practical experience. You might take an online course in your spare time, for example—and the more, the better. Completing several courses in your desired field can significantly improve your chances of success.
Complete your own small project
Once you’ve learned some basic skills through courses, you might try building your own small project next. For example, Flatiron School graduate Manuel Neuhauser created Wishgram—which allows users to create online Christmas lists—on his own, and it was a key factor in him landing the tech position he wanted. Such a project can show that you’re proactive about building your skills and that you’re ready to dive into the work.
Develop your network
The power of connections cannot be overstated, regardless of where you want to work. Connect with other tech professionals through social networks, and ask them things like how they became IT specialists, about the specifics of their work, how they manage their duties, and if they have any valuable advice for a beginner. This is a good way to find out more about your future career and how to start it, and also to establish contacts that may help you find a job in the future.
This is probably the best way to get initial tech experience. Sign up for freelance platforms such as Upwork, Guru, or Freelancer. There, you can find your very first projects. Start with small, easy ones. At this stage, you can work for little money, since the main thing for you right now is gaining experience. Positive feedback on your first projects will be a clear advantage when you go to apply for your desired position.
Highlight your soft skills
There’s no doubt that hard skills are of great importance in any tech position, of course, but your employer will also likely evaluate your soft skills. So if possible, highlight these advantageous qualities in your application, such as:
- Communication. The ability to clearly express your thoughts is one of the key skills required for any tech job. You will have to communicate with your colleagues and possibly even customers. To demonstrate this skill, you might describe a successful negotiation you had with clients at your previous job or talk about how you collaborated successfully with teammates.
- Analytics and research. These skills help you assess a situation, collect the necessary data, and work toward a solution for a problem. If you’ve done this with the help of specific tools in the past, such as Google Analytics, mention this too.
- Planning. You’ll likely have multiple responsibilities in your future tech job. For things to go well, you’ll need to prioritize and plan everything properly. Talk about your previous successful experience doing this, and the tools you’ve used to improve your productivity.
- Creativity. Creativity means the ability to solve problems in an unconventional way. You might be able to talk about a time when you saw things differently than others and were able to facilitate an outside-the-box solution.
- Teamwork. Teamwork is another essential skill for any tech job. Even if you were a freelancer before, you still collaborated with clients, which can be considered teamwork experience. It’s important to highlight that you can work well with others.
Naturally, employers want to see that their future employee is truly interested in this particular position and not just looking for a job to pay the bills. Try to be as specific as possible when you explain why you want to work in this field, at this company, and in this role.
Volunteering is a good option for getting into IT. It will give you the opportunity to try different activities to find out what you love, and at the same time, get the initial experience you need. Perhaps more importantly, though, such an opportunity will allow you to demonstrate your initiative, potential, passion, and desire to learn.
Be ready to start small
If you've received a good tech education, you may feel overqualified for some entry-level jobs—but you need to start somewhere. As Lao Tzu said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Remember that you typically won’t be able to immediately apply for a senior position, but that the path to them usually begins with being an intern or trainee.
Use your time wisely
Perhaps you don't have any tech experience yet, but you have a resource of infinite value that you may not realize: your time. If you spend your time with energy, enthusiasm, and initiative, you can transform it into tremendous opportunities. Demonstrate your willingness to spend your time on the chosen project.
Expand your search
If you browse the pages of tech companies you’re interested in and find that you don’t have the necessary experience to fill any of their open vacancies, it may be worth expanding your search. You might also look at other tech companies or even businesses in related fields. In other words, try to look at your skills and goals from other angles.
Showcase your other experience
First of all, it can be useful—and besides, it’s helpful to show that there haven’t been gaps in your career timeline when it seems like you were doing nothing.
List only the skills that you actually have
If you write that you know this and that, but during the interview, it turns out that you only have a general idea of those topics, it will seem deceptive. Be honest about where you’re currently at and avoid misleading anyone.
Preparing for the interview
Followed our tips and scored an interview? Great! Below, you’ll find our advice for how to prepare for a tech interview:
Don't pretend to be someone you’re not. Communicate the way you do in your everyday life. You should prepare for common questions in advance but don’t over-rehearse so that your answers sound insincere, robotic, or unconfident.
Be prepared with salary expectations. Find out in advance about the average salary for this type of job and decide how much you’ll ask for. You can find helpful information on fair salaries on the DOU and Djinni websites, or in IT forums.
Take care of your appearance
Even though IT people don't typically wear suits and ties, beachwear is still a sign of disrespect. Dress well but not too formal or informal.
No matter how difficult the task of getting a tech job without experience may seem to you, it is possible—but you must prepare properly and be patient for the best results.
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