There’s never been a better time to get a tech job. In the U.S. alone, the tech industry has generated around 200,000 new jobs every year since 2010. And with tech talent in demand, the tech industry is a jobseeker’s market. People who can code are in a great position. However, for people without a coding background or any experience in tech, the prospect of finding a job in this sector can be daunting.
The good news is that while most people assume that all developers have a degree in computer science, this isn’t the case at all. In fact, 66 percent of programmers are self-taught. And even those who did receive a formal tech education rely on continual professional development to keep their skills sharp, which requires self-motivation rather than formal training.
This means that with a little planning and determination, you can land your first tech job with no previous experience. Here are a few tips.
1. Ask to take on tech-related tasks at your current job or internship
Look around where you currently work or intern; it’s likely you already have the opportunity to develop some tech skills. Identify relevant tasks, then request that you be given the chance to contribute. For instance, you could ask your manager whether you can help maintain or redesign the company’s website. This kind of experience looks good on your resume.
2. Take online courses
We live in an era where it’s possible to learn practically anything online. Treehouse, Udemy, and Alison are just three providers that offer affordable courses written by industry professionals. You can fit these courses around your existing commitments, and there are no time limits.
Some platforms attract supportive communities of users who are all looking to develop the same skills. Knowing that you can ask a peer to give feedback on your projects will accelerate your learning.
If an online course doesn’t engage you, try another. You might need to try an instructor who uses a different approach. Read a few reviews first, and take advantage of any opportunities to preview the course.
3. Keep building projects
When you take online courses, you’ll be encouraged to make your own apps and websites to hone your skills. There are two reasons why you should heed this advice. First, a career in tech requires ongoing professional development and a willingness to push yourself, so working on your own projects helps you adopt the right mindset.
Second, your projects can form the basis of a portfolio that shows recruiters what you can do. Qualifications and evidence of learning are a good start, but ultimately, you need to prove that you can translate theory into practice. Don’t just work in isolation; contribute to open source projects to gain valuable experience.
4. Build an online portfolio
Once you’ve completed a few projects, it’s time to build a portfolio that you can link to on your resume and professional social media profiles, such as LinkedIn and GitHub.
Treehouse recommend that you do the following:
- Include a brief bio with a mission statement. Tell your visitors about the types of projects you’ve completed to date, what you are currently learning, and what you want to do in the future.
- Tailor your portfolio style to your desired role. For instance, if you want to work in front-end design, take care to build a creative, memorable website.
- Share your project source code on GitHub Pages.
- Include a contact form on your site to make it easy for recruiters to get in touch.
Check that your copy is perfect. “Everyone, regardless of their industry, needs a personal website and resume that is easy to read,” explains the CEO of PickWriters. Rely on a reputable writing service to ensure a professional result.
5. Look for simple freelance jobs
As soon as you’ve gained basic proficiency in a couple of languages, you can look for quick freelance tasks on Upwork, Guru, Freelancer, or other similar platforms. As you gain more experience and positive reviews, you can take on more complex projects.
6. Identify your transferable skills and highlight them on your resume
If you’ve already worked in another field, you’ll have picked up non-technical skills that will serve you well in a tech job. These include problem solving, data analysis, the ability to work as part of a team, communication skills, and the ability to juggle multiple projects at once.
7. Research local events in your area, and start networking
Did you know that the majority of jobs—regardless of field—are not formally advertised? To access hidden jobs, you need to become proficient in networking, both online and off. Google tech-based events in your area, and look for regular local meetups. You’ll form professional relationships with people who can give you advice on how to break into the industry, find the right training for your preferred career path, or even give you a job. Find seasoned industry professionals who are happy to provide support and encouragement to novice. If you’re lucky, you may even find yourself a mentor.
8. Be willing to take on an entry-level role that offers potential for advancement and training
If you are working at a mid-tier or high-level role in your current job, you might have to apply for junior positions when establishing yourself in a tech field. This will mean taking a cut in salary. Fortunately, if you are willing to expand your skill set and choose a company that takes a proactive approach to staff development, you will be working in a senior role within a few years.
A final note
Remember, demand for tech talent currently outstrips supply. If you can show a basic grasp of common coding languages, plus a keen interest in furthering your skills, it shouldn't be too hard to land a junior role.
Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks, and empowers using the magic of words. While pursuing a degree in creative writing, Kristin gained experience in the publishing industry, with an expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she has found herself as a freelance writer. You can find her on Facebook and Medium.