Dalona Turner, Partnerships Specialist at General Assembly, recently sat down with career expert and best-selling author Ashley Stahl, to discuss how to pivot into a career in tech.
Both Dalona and Ashley are career changers themselves, which is important because it’s sometimes hard to discern if advice is rooted in theory or experience. If you’ve been thinking “I need a new job”, “I need a career pivot”, or “is technology a good career path”, here is some career advice that will help you get any job you want.
How To Build Confidence
The greatest determining factor for landing a tech career in 2023 is your confidence level.
People who land highly competitive roles know where they’ve been, the direction they’re heading, and how to tell their professional career story in interviews.
Research shows the primary way to build confidence is to eliminate incomplete cycles of action—or things you’ve left undone. They taunt your subconscious into thinking you can’t be successful.
Monitoring your environment is a great first step into extinguishing such thinking. Check out Benjamin Hardy’s books Willpower Doesn’t Work and Personality Isn’t Permanent for tips on that. You must extinguish this thinking before it breeds imposter syndrome.
How To Talk About Past Job Experiences
Confidence isn’t always a transferable skill. You can be confident in one aspect of your life but not in another. It’s important you build confidence in your ability to talk about yourself professionally.
“Be prepared to talk about two to three main professional highlights” Dalona remarked, “and support them with soft skills you obtain as they relate to the core competencies of the job description.”
Think through these questions so you can prove to interviewers you’re right for the job:
- What hard and soft skills has your past experience taught you?
- How do those skills translate to the requirements of the job you want?
- What is your overall goal, and how does this job help you get it?
Obviously, your goal is to land the tech role. The big question interviewers want to know is why? Writing out your elevator pitch in a way that explains your aspirations can be helpful.
Simply add the words “so that” to your story: I want to work as a [desired title] so that I can [your aspirational goal].
Tips For Developing a Career Changer Mindset
Too many people turn to big tech companies like Meta, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet (formerly Google), and miss out on incredible tech opportunities because they don’t realize tech jobs are everywhere.
Knowing where to look for tech jobs is only half the battle. Developing a growth mindset will serve you well as a career changer, whether you’re a high school graduate or have 20 years of experience in another industry.
1. Realize you are worthy
Internalize the fact that you are worthy and deserving of having and contributing to a career that brings you happiness.
2. Start intentionally networking
Networking is about opening doors and getting feedback from people who have been down the road you want to travel. Here are a few networking tips if you want to make a career change with your existing employer.
3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
Give yourself permission to make mistakes in the early stages of your career transition. Nobody gets to their dream job without a few bumps along the way. You can fail, without being a failure.
4. Assess yourself and develop an action plan
Larger companies place a high emphasis on scores from technical interview assessment platforms like CodeView, codeAbility, CodeSignal, and CoderPad, to name a few. Familiarize yourself with several, create a GitHub account, and be active. Once you’ve practiced, develop a plan to improve your areas for growth.
5. Avoid people who act like they’ve arrived
Ashley pointed out that lifelong learning keeps you focused on the journey, instead of the destination. She said “Lifelong learners with a growth mindset are the most successful because they are humbled by the fact that they’ll never achieve intellectual mastery, and there’s always more to learn.”
When soliciting advice from others—do your best to avoid people who feel (or act) like they’ve arrived. That attitude indicates a person who is no longer growing.
How To Know if Tech Is the Right Career Path for You
The best way to tell if a career in tech is right for you is to look at the characteristics interviewers are looking for.
Chances are strong you’ll find a career in tech highly rewarding if you have these qualities:
Creativity and collaboration
Employers want creative people who are comfortable collaborating with others. It’s good to highlight and demonstrate this core competency during interviews.
People with grit are highly sought after because they’re typically a great source of new ideas, strategies, and processes that increase overall bandwidth and results.
Comfort with customers
There will be times when you will have to present data or tell a story to important stakeholders, making your past customer experience a terrific competency that many employers are looking for.
What Should You Do Now?
First, settle on which tech role might be right for you. To help check out this blog for the three most promising tech careers.
Next, attend one of our free intro-to classes. This will help you clarify and solidify your career aspirations.
Finally, download our free ebook Land the Work You Love to learn more about transitioning to a tech role. We break down the six core disciplines of the tech industry and look at each one’s responsibilities, skills, career track, tools, and whether it’s the right fit for you.