Switching careers can be daunting — you might feel as though you’ve been doing the same thing for too long or it’s too late to try something new — but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Follow these five steps to stand out from the crowd as you transition into the tech industry:
Step 1: Learn some tech skills
The days of jobs always requiring college degrees are over. Tech companies also care about what you can do and whether you know your stuff. That’s why step one is building a foundation of technical knowledge.
The good news is that this has never been easier. There are resources that can teach you whatever kind of technical skills you want to learn, ranging from web programming to machine learning algorithms. Udacity, for one, has over five different schools and over 50 different Nanodegree programs to help you get the tech skills companies are looking for. Many even offer certifications upon completion that can be valuable additions to your resume.
Step 2: Build something
Learning something new is great, but the best way to show off your newfound tech prowess is by actually doing. Companies are interested in is seeing what you can make. The real-world projects part of each Udacity Nanodegree program will give you hands-on practice executing what you’ve learned.
Coursework, personal projects (like scripts, mobile apps, and websites), and contributions to open source projects on websites like GitHub, are all great ways to market yourself.
Does building a project alone sound daunting? Try checking out a local hackathon. There, you will work as part of a team to build something centered around a common goal or cause.
Step 3: Build out your resume
It’s now time to create a new resume. This is where you can really use your creativity to stand out from the rest of the crowd. If you’re changing careers into tech, that means that you have all kinds of previous experience from other work that gives you an edge over people who don’t.
Spend time thinking about each of your previous jobs. What special skills did they give you that might not be common among people who have only ever been programmers? Do you excel at public speaking? Do you have experience in sales or customer service? Highlight that experience when describing previous work.
Be sure to make it clear in your “About Me” statement that you are looking to transition your career into a tech role. Clearly, list classes, you’ve taken or certificates you’ve received. Don’t be shy when listing off tools or programming languages you’ve mastered, and provide links to projects you’ve worked on.
Step 4: Interview prep
Tech industry interviews are usually a combination of discussing previous projects and then proving your coding and algorithm skills with some kind of paired programming or whiteboard walk-through.
To prepare, review all of your coursework and check out the book Cracking the Coding Interview for practice problems. To get over the nerves of coding while someone watches, try asking a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you.
Step 5: Apply to jobs
This is it! You’ve made it. Start sending your fresh resume in, and don’t forget to update your LinkedIn. It’s also a good idea to check out tech recruiting websites like AngelList (for startups) and Hired.
Tech companies move fast. You’ll be cracking open a new laptop and writing your first paid line of code in no time!