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Tips for Career Changers

Career changers bring valuable skills and experience. Tech needs a variety of people with a broad range of experiences. It needs more wisdom and maturity, and more variety of thoughts and ideas. Career changers can bring all of this and more. But getting your first tech role is a challenge. Our entry level roles receive hundreds of applications.

The world of employment likes to put people in boxes. They want square pegs for square holes. When changing careers, you will come up against this, and it can be a real problem.

We take an emotionally intelligent approach to hiring, championed by our CEO, Laura Findley. It allows us to see potential more clearly. But not all businesses have the time or the skills to do that, so you need to make sure that you clearly demonstrate your potential to an interviewer. 

If you are a career changer, here are some tips to help you secure that first role...

Tips for career changers

Tips for career changers in tech. Laptop.

1. Think about the skills required for the role you want to do

Make a list of them. Go through your employment history and think about your achievements. Think of examples where you used the skills that the new role needs. Have them ready to talk about in interviews. 

2. Do some courses

Education has never been more accessible. Free courses can be accessed remotely from wherever you are in the world, whenever you want. If you are passionate about software engineering or marketing, you will enjoy mastering the skills you learn in those courses. If you don't enjoy the courses or aren't motivated to do them, then the role probably isn't right for you. Find something else - something that you want to learn about. 

3. Build relationships with recruiters who can see beyond the obvious

Some recruiters have a high output model and will only put forward the obvious choices. They are under a lot of pressure, and don’t have the time to look beyond the obvious. But there are some recruiters who will take the time to understand you, see your potential, and want to work with you to find you a perfect role. Those are the recruiters you need to build a relationship with. 

4. Take responsibility for your own destiny

It is tempting to think ‘I just need someone to give me a chance’. Don't think that. It places the responsibility for your future on some unknown person. Your future is your responsibility, not anyone else's. You need to convince someone to give you a chance. The more you can show employers that they can have confidence in your ability and passion for the role, the more you will convince them. Doing courses and personal projects go a long way to showing this.

5. Don’t undersell yourself.

This advice applies to everyone, but women in particular tend to do this (as can be seen in the many psychological studies referenced in The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart). We don't want to look 'big headed' or 'arrogant', so we undersell ourselves. As a result, we are underestimated by interviewers. At Volanto we make sure all of our interviewers are aware of these studies, but most businesses will not have that level of awareness. If we want to close the gender gap in tech we need to solve this problem. The next point will help....

6. Build a portfolio.

Show people your work. This removes the danger of underselling yourself because you let your work speak for itself. We don't expect you to have work experience for an entry level role, but with roles like software engineering and digital marketing it is possible to build a portfolio without any work experience. The most motivated and passionate candidates in these areas tend to have done free courses and created projects in their own time, because they love the industry they are applying to be part of. Those projects make a great portfolio. The work doesn't need to be perfect - but it shows us your passion and enthusiasm and lets us know where we would need to focus your training.

7. Look for businesses that are more open minded.

Look for flexibility built into their job specs, e.g. 'degree in a related subject, or significant experience', '1 year of experience or evidence of a real passion for the industry'. Flexible requirements indicate an open minded approach to hiring. 

8. Try a startup

Startups tend to have more open minded, innovative, modern cultures.  They are likely to place more value on a varied skillset because they will have a limited team, so if you bring an extra skill to the table that will be a real benefit for them. At a startup you will probably be interviewed by a senior professional, who may be more likely to see your potential. If you do get a role in a startup, you will gain more experience than you ever could in a large established business. Startups can propel careers for talented people. Just make sure you are comfortable with the reality of a startup first. Find out if a startup could be right for you in this article.

9. Consider applying for our LAUNCHPAD scheme

It is designed to help people get into tech. The scheme is for new starters or career changers, irrespective of age. Take the time to craft your application carefully. An application to the LAUNCHPAD scheme is a request for us to invest many hours of unpaid time and energy in you. Respect that by investing some time in your application, so we can see your commitment. 

Tech Career Changers 

Securing your first role in software engineering, digital marketing, data science or any other tech role is a challenge. But that is the same across all industries. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

Employers only have a few hours with you during the interview process, maybe even less. You are asking them to make a leap of faith. Remember that. Be aware of it. Make it as easy as possible for them to have faith in you. Show them what you can do. 

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At Volanto we are experts in technology and culture. We welcome career changers. 


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