July 24, 2019

So You Want to Change Careers…(Part 3)

by Peg Bogema

For a career changer, landing that first job in technology can be a challenge.

That having been acknowledged, career changers may have some assets that they don’t realize they can capitalize on.

Industry or Line of Business Expertise

For many people who have been doing the same thing career-wise for a long time, they’re just over it. They’ve been in banking or restaurants or schools or fill-in-the-blank for so long that they want nothing to do with it.

If you’re trying to make a career change, maybe you should pause a moment before you wipe the slate clean.

Let’s start with this basic line of reasoning: there’s an app for everything.

More broadly put, there are software and Web and mobile applications for every conceivable industry and line of business.

So if you have a few—or many—years of experience in a specialized domain, that may be valuable to a prospective employer. So you have to ask yourself this question: would it make sense to leverage my prior experience to get my first technology job?

If the answer to that question is maybe or yes, then your first step is some research. What technology companies are in my geographic area that have anything at all to do with my prior experience? They will have a careers page, and submitting your resume to them with a compelling cover letter may be very fruitful.

Academic Training

Maybe the subject or field you majored in turned out to be a dud for you professionally. That doesn’t mean that you cannot put it to some good use.

Be it math, physics, a foreign language, or chemistry, some technology company is likely to value your knowledge. In the minds of many employers, it’s easy to train programmers—but harder to give them the knowledge typically acquired by a four-year specialized degree.

Think of it this way: leveraging your degree for a couple of years might be the fastest route to your first technology job. After that, you can look for a job in a completely different industry. That first professional credential is key.

Your Hobbies

If your hobbies are like mine, they may not be of any help when it comes to landing your first technology job.

Don’t assume that to be true, though.

If you are a maker, an artisan, a mechanic or a tinkerer, your skills may be of interest to a hiring manager.

Have you fooled around with 3D printing? That might be of value.

Are you an amateur film-maker? That might be an asset.

We have had customers ask us for a candidate who knows ham radios, who has created an Internet of Things (IoT) device to automate something at home, who is an amateur car mechanic, who enjoys landscaping.

Summary

In short, anything in your lifetime of experience that you can bring to the table in addition to your technical skills is something worth examining. Even if you do not envision yourself spending the rest of your life writing restaurant software, to land that first job as a software developer, it may be smart to leverage ten years as a server.

Happy job hunting!

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this Career Changer series.

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