A lot of people dream about working in the tech industry. Tech jobs come with high salaries, flexible schedules, cool work environments, and the opportunity to be part of projects that change our world. Yet many fresh graduates and seasoned professionals looking for a change don't even consider applying for positions in tech companies. They are either discouraged by common misconceptions about the industry or don't think they stand a chance without previous experience. Breaking into tech is easier than many think, however, and we will show you how to get your first tech job in this step-by-step guide.
Benefits of Working in the Tech Industry
Working in the tech industry has many advantages:
Tech jobs are in high demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology occupations are projected to add about 667,600 new jobs by 2030. It is also expected that the highest demand will be for professionals in cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security.
Tech jobs pay well. Salaries vary depending on the job title, experience level, region, or company. And yet, they are higher than in most other industries. For example, an average salary for Manual QA—a popular position that allows entering the tech industry reasonably quickly—is $67,206.
Tech jobs offer a good work-life balance. There is no other industry with so many opportunities to work remotely and on your own schedule. Working in tech allows you to easily combine your job responsibilities with taking care of your family, traveling the world, or devoting time to your hobbies.
Tech jobs are challenging. They require learning new things and improving your skills all the time. So, tech jobs rarely get boring, and there is always an opportunity for professional and personal growth.
Add to this list perks such as excellent health insurance, generous paid time off, parental leave programs, employee stock purchase plans, etc., and you can see why a career in tech is a great choice. So why are many people hesitant to apply for openings in this field?
Myths That Stop People from Working in Tech
There are many misconceptions about the tech industry. And believing them often puts people off from even considering tech jobs. Let's bust a few widespread myths:
You can't work in tech companies if you don't possess a degree in computer science. This is not true. Tech workers come from many different backgrounds; earning a relevant degree is just one of the possible paths. Rather than formal education, employers are looking for the right skill sets. And often, the necessary skills can be learned in short-term courses. As long as a candidate is able to do the job and learn quickly, they can successfully apply for many tech jobs.
Tech jobs are only for young people. There is a stereotype that a tech worker is always a man in his early twenties. Data from Statista, however, shows that the median employee age at most companies is well over 30. Although the problem of ageism has not been entirely eliminated from the tech industry, the emphasis on diversity—including diversity in age—is strong, and things are improving quickly.
You need to be good at coding to work in the tech industry. Many people think jobs in tech are only for those with programming skills. They forget that companies need not only developers but also designers, marketers, customer support specialists, project managers, sales professionals, data analysts, etc. And even purely "technical" roles often do not require advanced coding abilities. For example, you don't need to know programming languages to get a job as a Manual QA. Of course, if you want to advance your career, you will probably need to learn it later on, but you can start working without this knowledge.
Manual QA is not the only choice for those who want to start a new career in tech. So, what positions would be suitable for beginners?
Entry-Level Tech Jobs
There are multiple jobs in the tech industry that you can get even if you have no or very little experience. Look at these examples below:
Manual QA Testers make sure software applications work as expected and meet all the requirements. They are responsible for creating test plans, executing the necessary tests, and reporting identified bugs.
Tech Sales Representatives sell complex scientific or technological products, be it hardware, software, or services. They are responsible for looking for new selling opportunities, creating presentations, developing proposals, and providing post-sales support.
Customer Support Specialists deal with customers' questions and complaints. They provide technical assistance and help resolve users' issues related to using products or services.
Project Managers plan, organize, and execute projects. They are responsible for projects staying within the approved scope, budget, and time frame.
Data Analysts collect, clean, organize, and analyze data to find ways to solve business problems. In other words, they turn raw data into meaningful insights that help companies make better decisions.
Web Designers create the visual elements that users see and interact with on web applications. They are responsible for page layouts, menus listed on the site, colors, fonts, etc.
Technical Support Specialists oversee and maintain companies' hardware and software systems. They troubleshoot issues with employees' computers, manage access rights to different applications, and troubleshoot problems such as slow performance or connection issues.
Technical Writers create documents related to technological products and services, such as user manuals, operating procedure guides, white papers, training materials, specialized product descriptions, and maintenance instructions.
Although all these roles do require particular technical knowledge, you can learn the necessary skills reasonably quickly. Besides, you don't need a specific degree or certification to get one of these jobs, so you can start building your new career in the tech industry just in the course of a few months.
We’ll tell you exactly how to do this in the next section.
10 Steps to Get Your First Job in Tech
For most people, looking for a new job is a daunting experience. And it is especially true when you are trying to break into an industry where you have never worked before. If you have a clear plan at hand, however, the process will be less stressful and intimidating.
Here are 10 steps to getting hired by a tech company:
Step 1. Choose a career that suits you best.
It is a good idea to orient yourself in the tech industry first. Research what jobs are out there, the most common requirements for candidates, and what positions might be a good fit for you. Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Think about what topics interest you. And most importantly, consider your previous experience and how your domain knowledge can help you start a new tech career. For example, if you worked in healthcare, you would have an advantage when applying for jobs in companies that provide software solutions for hospitals. Or, if you were a teacher, it might be easier for you to get hired by an edtech company.
Step 2. Determine what skills you need to learn.
Once you've decided what career path you would like to pursue, make a list of skills you need to acquire or improve to maximize your chances for success. You can do that by browsing job descriptions on LinkedIn or job search platforms like Monster, Indeed, and Glassdoor. This will give you a clearer understanding of what skills employers are looking for in candidates and allow you to see what you already know and what you still have to learn. For example, you will notice that web designer openings almost always mention knowledge of HTML and CSS, so you will have to master them if you are looking for this kind of position. And although technical expertise is vital for tech jobs, don’t neglect soft skills, as they are equally important. You might need to work on some of these as well. You can read more about how you can improve your soft skills in this article.
Step 3. Learn necessary skills.
After you've determined what you have to learn, it is time to decide how to do it. You can choose a learning method that suits you best, depending on your budget and the time you are willing to invest. Besides traditional college education, you can enroll in short-term online courses, choose a self-study path, or attend in-person training programs. All these options have their own pros and cons, and only you can decide what is preferable in your unique situation.
Step 4. Gain hands-on experience.
Having experience working on real-world projects will help you to get noticed by employers. The good news for fresh graduates or career changers is it’s not only a full-time paid job that counts. You can gain experience through volunteer work, freelancing, internship, or working on personal projects. Such opportunities help you build your portfolio, look good on your resume, and give you confidence, which is a must-have during interviews.
Step 5. Get ready for the job market.
Once you learn the necessary skills and gain some experience, it might be tempting to start applying for jobs immediately. However, it is better to take some time to get yourself ready for the job market. For example, you will need to prepare drafts of your resume and cover letters, update your LinkedIn profile, and clean up your social media pages. This article explains in detail how to create a job search plan that will help you stay focused, organized, and motivated.
Step 6. Keep in mind what is important for you.
You can't find a job you want unless you know what you want. Take time to think about your short-term and long-term career goals and things that are critical to you. Some people dream about working at big corporations, while others prefer small startups. Some value a flexible schedule and the possibility to work remotely. For others, the most important thing is career advancement opportunities. Having a clear picture of your ideal job will help you understand what to focus on during your search and what questions to ask potential employers.
Step 7. Apply for jobs.
People rarely get hired after sending their resume to a single company. The data shows it takes between 21 and 80 applications on average to get just one job offer. That is why scheduling time daily to search for new openings, customize your documents, and send your applications is essential. And although it is easy to lose motivation if you aren't getting the results you were hoping for quickly, you have to stay consistent and keep applying regularly.
Step 8. Prepare yourself for interviews.
The next important step is to prepare yourself for interviews. Don't underestimate this step. Research what questions hiring managers usually ask when interviewing for the role you are applying for and think through your answers. You can even ask your friend to play the role of a recruiter and rehearse together. Also, don’t forget to make a list of questions you would like to ask an employer. And if you want to avoid common interview mistakes, read this article.
Step 9. Network.
Networking, both online and in-person, can help you tremendously in your job search efforts. Attend job fairs, visit industry events in your area, and interact with people on LinkedIn. Your connections can give you access to unpublished job openings, or they might refer you to a company you want to join. And don't feel discouraged if you don't know many people from the tech industry yet. Your contacts might introduce you to someone from the field or know about interesting tech positions in nontechnical companies.
Step 10. Don’t neglect your well-being.
Searching for your first tech job can be time consuming and exhausting, so it is essential to take good care of your physical and mental health. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and taking regular breaks for hobbies or meeting up with friends will help you stay energized and motivated.
Hopefully, our step-by-step guide will make the task of starting a new career in tech less overwhelming, and you will land your dream job soon!