The job arena is changing and the tech industry is the place to be. Luckily you don’t need to be a Harvard grad to get there.
An FKD Feature exclusive

Today’s young professionals are increasingly pursuing positions at tech companies and startups, and the reason is quite simple: Purpose. As in, the tech industry has cultivated the amazingly flattering reputation that they imbue the lives of their employees with flexibility, meaning, innovation and purpose. So, as opposed to a 9 to 5 in a cubicle, you’re expanding your mind and blowing it away, too.

Is everyone switching to the tech industry? Should I?

Well, it certainly is getting some good press.

Not only young professionals fresh out of college or graduate school, but even seasoned businessmen are eyeing the tech world wistfully, or, at the very least, with a profound curiosity. In a new study of more than 800 financial service employees, in partnership with Kronos, it was found that one-fourth are more interested in working in the tech industry than in finance. These employees are looking for meaningful work, companies that innovate, and flexibility — all of which tech companies offer and where financial companies lag behind.

The finance business is not only having external difficulties inspiring the young population to sign on with them, but they are experiencing internal problems as well: In the CNBC study, they found that one-fourth of financial service employees don’t view their company as innovative, and 79 percent say working at an innovative company is important to them. A whopping 76 percent of employees said they were driven by more than just money when they sought a new job, and 73 percent said that they needed to see what a company stood for before joining.

Employers need to be able to supply their employees with flexibility and work-life balance. When the study asked financial service employees what they felt they had given up to work in the business industry, one-third said work-life balance, while one-fourth said flexibility. These finance businesses have the whole suit-and-tie, rigidly-houred, drab-colored walls, and scary boss thing “going for them.” But the tech industry just “hangs more loose.” Or so the story goes, at least.

Cool, I want in. How?

The thought of entering the tech world, especially as a newcomer, can seem insurmountably daunting. But like most things: Just breathe, tell yourself you can do it, and, with composure, set about learning what you need to learn.

First: Personalize your tech desires

Figure out what you want from the tech industry. The powerful tool of knowing what you want is not exclusive to securing a job in the tech industry, and vision is the quickest route to accomplishment. If you can’t visualize it, you can’t do it. There are a million different sectors of the technology industry, and, chances are, there is one that appeals most to you and fits best. If you are really into fashion for instance, then you might be interested in e-textiles. The point is: Do your research and narrow it down so you don’t feel thrown into an overwhelming world of choices, choices, choices and you can just make a beeline to your goal (of course you might have to pay some dues. But at least you’ll have a goal.) Moving on.

Let’s talk about job-hunting

First off: It’s a numbers game. Figure out a number of applications you will send out every week. Then quadruple that number and times that number by two. Maybe not. But really, at the end of the day, the more you put out, the higher your chances. Again, not exclusive to the tech industry, but bear with me.

Depressing fact:You have around a 4 percent chance of getting an offer from any application (statistically speaking). This may seem low. But mathematically, that means that 50 such applications will give you an 87 percent chance of getting at least one job offer.

The ‘Can I Buy You A Coffee?’ Methodology

Not really a methodology. It’s just networking. And it’s surprisingly difficult and simple at the same time. It’s just talking, which is simple. But schmoozing. Now, that’s more difficult. And enamoring yourself to people, even more so! What you need to do is find a way to get face time with as many people that work in tech, or even tech-related fields, as you can. Real face time. Make them think of you as a human, a face, a name, and a story. Not just a supposition, or a solicitation.

Get creative with this. No, don’t just stop people on the side of the street. Think leveraging social media: Tinder, LinkedIn, Facebook. (You can friend everyone. Some call that annoying, but you can call it opportunity. Befriend and try to ingratiate yourself to them via Facebook posts that you think they’ll like. Or just DM them. Just an idea.). Go to MeetUps, developer conferences, freakin’ tech-people-populated house parties! Most importantly, before you break your brain trying to think of the most creative networking strategy to use, look at what is right underneath your nose. Your pre-established network. Mom, dad, their friends, then their friends’ friends. That network is surprisingly large. Make some inquiries, and you’ll find out.

Informational interviews FTW

It’s about learning. There is no hiring here. That is probably why your interviewer was comfortable to sit down in the first place. The informational interview is sly and it’s not. It’s sly because you are seducing someone into giving you their time by implying you’re not interested in a job (when of course you are). But in another, much stronger sensem you aren’t being duplicitous at all because you truly do want to learn and not take shortcuts. Shortcuts have a way of working in the short-term but then burning out once you realize you don’t have the necessary skills required to do the job.

So. Learn anything and everything about this person. Ask all your questions, and — Please— take notes. Ample notes. Comprehensive notes. Notes on when he sneezes. OK, maybe not that far. But a lot of notes is my point. If you’re doing most of the talking, then you’re doing it wrong by the way. If you stay quiet, they become curious and then ask of their own volition. If you are a blabbermouth, the curiosity goes right out the window.

The Close: A big reason you are there is for “the close.” Of course, you appreciate the learning experience, but the close is when you say something such as “Would you happen to know another person I could talk to?” Don’t ask for a job referral unless they bring it up. If they have a hard time thinking of someone, keep broadening the net — anyone in adjacent fields, people who they know who knows somebody. Whatever you do, get another contact. Always. After that, follow that process: coffee with contact, get new contact, coffee with contact, get new contact, etc.

Dive in headfirst

A really good way to see if you are cut out for the tech-sphere is to take on a small side project — no matter how small — and acquire rudimentary know-how. Get yourself exposed to the field that you want to enter. Let’s face it —– having just an interest in the field is not enough. Getting concrete experience under your belt is the best way to build your portfolio.

Learn skills (if you don’t have ’em)

You can’t do the job without the tools. If going back to school is not in the cards for you, leverage your network to discover which programs are most suited to your personal tech-sector needs. There are quite a few online — especially if you are an aspiring-programmer — the first thing anyone should do is learn HTML and maybe even some JavaScript. Codecademy and W3Schools are two great places to start.

Quick point about resumes and cover letters

Now that you have some contacts, you need to focus on your presentation, which means getting your resume and cover letter all sorted out and pretty. There is so much to say here, and it is so individualized, that it is hard to cover. But one small piece of advice is that you should keep your resume to one page. Always. Also, highlight anything that sounds kinda math-y or technical because you want in on the tech world. And don’t use a template. People want to see that you are passionate about them and what they are doing, and not just the tech industry in general. If you want some resources, there are tons out in the webisphere to select from.

Online job marketplaces

Get on all the platforms that list available gigs. Triplebyte, AngelList, Whitetruffle or Hired are all excellent choices that have large databases of tech-employer and tech-company job postings.

Let’s talk company size

I know it is your instinct to go right to Microsoft, or Google or Facebook (well, maybe not Facebook anymore) when you see a job listing for them online or anywhere. But statistically, those new to the industry will have more luck with small- to medium-sized companies that are more willing to take a risk on a relatively unproven tech newbie. With that in mind, you should really be throwing more of your efforts at those companies than wasting your time applying to highly prestigious gigs (OK. Not a “waste of time.” But it is way less likely you’ll secure a position).

Shoot for unsexy companies. You’re much more likely to get an interview. And at this stage, getting interview experience under your belt is ultimately what matters (or at least it is very important). Give special consideration to startups, which often are less rigid when it comes to traditional job requirements. These kinds of companies often focus more on training and candidate potential rather than strict academic background.

Consider finding a mentor

A mentor doesn’t have to be a guru or a mystical thing either, despite stereotype and stigma. In fact, it’s the opposite. It is all about pragmatism, concrete gains and brass tax. Learn from the older and the wiser. Make sure to look for a mentor in your field (this should be obvious). Despite what you may have heard, mentors are a great way to go.

Read up on your subject

As always, knowledge is power. Do your homework. All of these tips must be utilized and sweated over, not as separate and distinct units of advice, but in conjunction with one another. That is how you will see your best chances at successfully integrating into the tech world. While you’re doing all of that, you should be reading up on your new career aspiration. A lot.

Takeaway: Stay strong

Job searching is hard. You are going to get rejected. A lot. It really sucks to work so hard and get so many rejections. Objectively speaking, it is almost the worst thing that can happen (OK, no. No, it isn’t. It does suck, though). It will probably feel as if all this rejection is your fault or like something is wrong with you. Just remember. Almost everyone goes through this. Stay strong!

 

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Posted 05.14.2018 - 09:00 am EDT