10 TRANSFERABLE SKILLS FOR YOUR CAREER CHANGE INTO TECH
WHY ANYONE CAN MAKE THE MOVE INTO THE BOOMING DIGITAL SECTOR
It’s 2022, and we just can’t escape the headlines about rising living costs and the great resignation. Everyone is talking about the future of work, it seems. So if the last couple of years have got you thinking about a career change, why not look at the tech industry?
Tech currently has a skills gap, meaning it’s a perfect time to think about making the move. Recruitment is booming and salaries are on the rise; tech made up 13 per cent of UK job vacancies in 2021 and the average salary was 50% higher than all other industries. And unlike other high-paying sectors like law and finance, many tech employers continue to offer remote, flexible working in response to demand from employees.
Well, in a word, no! Maybe it was once. There have always been types of mysterious knowledge that only a few people have (like when only priests and lords knew how to read and write), and tech used to be like that. But as digital becomes the way we expect services to operate, from Uber to Amazon, to your local pizza joint being on Instagram Roles in tech have expanded and become much more accessible.
Roles in tech go way beyond actual coding. Yes, you can do a bootcamp and learn to code, it’s very cool and it can offer you huge opportunities, but if the technical side isn’t your thing that doesn’t mean tech is not for you. After all, 43% of tech vacancies are non-tech roles.
Tech is crying out for softer skills to connect the dots between the people who use digital services and the people who build them. Jobs like user researchers, UX designers, content designers, service designers, delivery managers, scrum masters, product managers, service owners, account executives and business or financial analysts all work with technical people to develop digital products and services. Meanwhile, digital marketers and social media managers use tech to connect people with the services they need. The list is practically endless and there’s probably something that suits you.
Here are 10 transferable skills examples that can help you start your career in tech.
From writing digital marketing copy or website content, to listening and speaking to your stakeholders (who might be paying for the work), your users (people who use your digital service) and your team members, strong communication skills are a must for most non-tech roles in tech.
2. Interpersonal skills and relationship building
Building digital products and services is all about listening to and understanding the needs of your users and stakeholders, then working effectively in a team to deliver high quality work fast. The ability to build relationships and work well with others is vital for most roles.
Not everyone needs to be a leader, but some roles demand it. Product managers, for example, need to lead a team through product development, making decisions and gaining buy-in.
Much tech work is team-based, and there is a huge amount of collaboration needed both within the team and with stakeholders or customers. Facilitation — bringing people together to draw out information and reach agreement — is an incredibly useful skill for many roles, and critical for some.
5. People management
Experience in line management is often lacking in the tech industry, due to the specialised, non-managerial nature of many roles. Demonstrating good line management skills, coaching & mentoring could give you an edge.
6. Planning & organising
Most digital work takes place under significant time and budget pressure. Good practice nowadays focuses on delivering small changes over time rather than building up to a big deadline, but deadlines still exist. Strong planning and organising skills can come in handy for all roles, but are a must for more delivery-focused and management positions.
7. Problem solving
Most tech work is trying to solve a problem, for the user or the customer. The ability to understand a problem and identify potential solutions is a key skill for most jobs in tech — and if you enjoy this, you’re more likely to enjoy working in digital.
Creativity runs across many jobs in tech. It’s more obvious in design work, but adds value across most roles as innovation is the name of the game in all things digital. It’s my personal view that nowadays digital development is the closest most of us are likely to get to being an inventor!
9. Strategic thinking
Like any industry, tech needs strategy. Plunging ahead with building something that sounds cool can waste a lot of time and money. If you know how to look at the big picture, draw things together and set direction for others, you can bring those skills into tech.
10. Research and analysis
Lots of roles involve research and analysis, from understanding user needs to analysing detailed business requirements to analysing online behaviour. All of these are critical to delivering digital services, so if you have research and analysis skills you can bring them to a range of roles.
There are a huge number of opportunities in the tech industry beyond software development. Whatever your experience, you might be able to find something where your existing skills give you a good start. If you’re looking for a career change, why not join the future of work?
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Oz Nwachukwu is a British Architect living in London and the founder of plasticfreebydesign.com. Feel free to get in contact for a chat @ firstname.lastname@example.org.