Masterplan for Transitioning Into Tech

You've finally narrowed down the exact tech role that you want to transition to, the one that'll give you career longevity, stability, AND matches your financial goals. Great! But now you're wondering what's next? Don't worry, many people experience this blocker when they're in the middle of transitioning into a new role and it can be difficult to come up with a strategy to conquer a new role, especially in a field that you have no experience in. Luckily, this blog post was made to help you you figure out a plan on how to successfully transition into tech!  Hopefully this guide will quell your doubts and help you come up with a system that works for you.

Learn the necessary skills for the job

At this point, you've probably watched 20 youtube videos, read 15 articles, and looked at 30 different twitter threads offering advice on the skillset needed for the job role you're interested in, and ALL of them are saying different things. It's confusing, what information should you trust? This is where you need to FOCUS and develop tunnel vision. Your best bet will be to go on LinkedIn or a few other job boards, pick 3-5 job descriptions, and write down the skills/tools that are commonly mentioned in most/all of them. That list will then serve as a guideline of the things you need to learn. Create a study plan based on the amount of time you want to allot yourself for studying for this job role. Don't get too caught up on which course/video/book you should watch. Pick a top rated Udemy course, select a robust bootcamp, etc and get started on your learning journey. Make sure that you're doing hands on labs as you're studying (no matter the job role/skill), whether it's coding, tinkering with tools, writing proposals, etc. This helps you to gain familiarity with what you're learning at a faster rate. Sure, you can learn something from just watching a video, but greatness comes from hands-on PRACTICE.

Note: Make sure that you space out your learning so that you don't burnout. Set reasonable study goals based on your lifestyle and schedule, ex: Study 3-5x a week for 1-2 hours a day. Cramming information into your brain is incredibly ineffective, especially when it's topic that you know nothing about.

Reinforce knowledge by creating projects

After you learn each skill, you should do some type of project to verify that you have in-depth knowledge and are able to articulate a solid response if asked about the topic. If you learned a coding language, write a small program in that language. If you learned a tool, do a simulation that mimics a task you would need to do on the job. For example, if you learned Tableau, you would build out a dashboard related to the industry you're hoping to secure a Tableau developer role in. If you're studying for Product Management and just learning about AB testing, you'll want to go through an A/B Test simulation and create a writeup about it. There's more to these projects than just verifying your knowledge, they also serve as your experience. Store your projects on Github (yes, you can use it to store a wide range of file formats!) or your personal site and give a brief summary of what you've done in the Projects section of your resume!

Optimize resume by adding projects and keywords relevant to role

Your resume actually serves as your first interview with the company, therefore your resume needs to leave an excellent first impression. The first thing you need to beat is the ATS(Applicant Tracking System). You'll do this by adding relevant keywords throughout your resume. Where do you find these keywords? In the job descriptions of the roles you apply for. My method is similar to the one used to figure out what skills I need to learn for a role, pick 3-5 JDs and the common keywords are those I need to work into my resume. With that being said, do not just throw the keywords on your resume, you need to be strategic about it. Work them into your previous work experience, into your skills sections, and your project summaries. Make sure you actually know what those keywords mean too because once you add something to your resume, you're automatically confirming that you know something about it! No one wants to be grilled in an interview for lying on their resume, so don't let it be you.

As far as your projects go. You want to leave a nice brief summary of what the project is, what the use case was for the project, and how you completed the project. You want the summary to be short and sweet, yet effectively explain that you know how to complete a task from end to end. Projects can also save you in interviews. Many times, interviewers will be interested in some of your work and ask you to elaborate on a project on your resume. It's much better to talk about something you already know about rather than having to answer a random question that they would've thrown at you!

Network with recruiters and industry professionals

If we are being honest here, sometimes it isn't what you know but WHO you know! Since you're trying to get your foot in the door of the tech industry, it's best to exhaust all of your resources (within reason) to secure your spot in tech. There's no better way to do it than by NETWORKING. Connect with professionals in the role that you want on LinkedIn. This can be as simple as you sending them a message saying that you have been doing research on <job role> and would like to know more about their experience, especially at the company they are at. You can also follow the biggest industry influencers for whichever role you want, on both Twitter and LinkedIn. Listen to their tech talks, read their articles, lookup some of the terms they post about. This will help you to get better insight on how to perform well in your job role once you pivot. Lastly, follow and interact with people on Twitter. Use the search bar to find your peers, threads, etc. Your goal is to build relationships and create meaningful connections so that later down the line, you have a powerful network who might immediately reach out to you for job role openings, help with referrals, etc. When networking, you always want to play the long game and make sure to provide value to others as well.

Interview Prep

Ah, interview prep. Most people think that once they learn a skill, they are immediately ready for an interview. Often times, this is not the case. When learning skills, you're moreso focused on learning the basics of something and how it is generally applied. For interviews, you're proving that you understand how your skillset can be used to solve a business problem, which typically involves a lot of conceptualized thinking. For each skill/tool that you learn, I recommend googling "Interview questions for <skill name>". Use those articles and videos to understand what type of questions are usually asked in an interview. I also recommend looking at case studies to see how other companies are solving problems using the same tools/skills that you know. The case studies will show you that while lots of businesses face the same general problems, each business has unique aspects of their business that causes them to use different methods to solve a problem. For instance, one company might choose using PowerBI over Tableau due to their budget and employees already having familiarity with the Microsoft 365 suite.

Interview and land your dream job

You've applied for a few jobs and already started getting callbacks. Hooray! You want to make sure that you're as effective with your interviews as possible to get through your job search at a quicker rate. For each interview, you'll want to:

  • Before you even speak on the phone with the recruiter, research the salary of the job role you applied for. Look for the city average and company average. When you're on the call with the recruiter, ask them what the range is for the pay.  If they dance around the answer, let them know you would like to know more about the role and its responsibilities from the team members/manager before giving a rate. Recruiters typically know the salary range for a role, so it's a red flag if they're not willing to give the information before you go through the interview process.
  • Research the company and the person interviewing you. Look at press releases to see what big features the company has been working on. It might spark you to even ask a few questions about it during the interview, which shows you're interested.
  • Practice your answers for behavioral interview questions like: "Tell me about yourself?", "When was a time when you had conflict with a coworker?", etc. You'll want to use the STAR method to answer all these questions clearly and concisely.
  • Have a list of references ready just in case the recruiter asks for them. Make sure to ask people if they can serve as a reference before giving out their number.
  • Once you get a job offer, review the information that was given to you about the role and negotiate for higher pay. Even if you're comfortable with the offer given, you should negotiate for more, even if it's for a higher bonus, more vacation days, benefits, etc.

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