Career Guide: Transfer Into Tech
A career guide for qualified professionals looking to find work in the tech sector
In this guide we’ll explore:
What the tech sector is, and where the opportunities are for candidates with professional qualifications or accreditation
How, as the tech industry matures, “coders” and “digital-first millennials” aren’t the only talent being hired
Jobs for accountants, lawyers, HRs, marketing and management
Entry paths into the tech sector for: graduates; qualified professionals; experienced candidates; and more
What it’s like to work in tech (and why it’s worth making the move)
Read on for all this and more. Or, ready to look for jobs now? Check out current jobs, or send your CV today.
So, you’re a professional looking to make a move into the technology sector. Maybe you’re a qualified accountant, a lawyer or an experienced HR operative. Perhaps you recently qualified in one of several relevant disciplines. Or it could be that you are at a later stage in your career and are looking to switch direction.
The good news: tech is a great sector to move into. Digital technology is playing an ever-greater role in our world, and businesses new and established are embracing its exciting possibilities. With such exponential growth comes a broad range of potential opportunities for someone like you.
There is a common misconception that tech is strictly for terrifyingly young coders, working out of achingly trendy co-working hubs in London’s Shoreditch or Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Well, think again.
Professionally qualified and experienced candidates are among digital employers’ “most wanted”. The simple fact is that this industry is in the process of maturing, which means people with experience and know-how – and not simply those from a pure tech background – can and will have a valuable part to play in its future.
In this guide we’ll examine why now is a good time to be looking at tech, a sector with multiple entry points for people at all stages of their career.
We’ll give you advice on how to identify and land the right job for you – including some great tips about interviews and career paths. We’ve also profiled individuals working in the industry already, in a variety of roles.
Whatever level of your career you have reached – and regardless of what qualifications you have collected – there are ways in which you can make the transition into a tech career.
Let’s look at the ways you can translate the stage of your career you are at into a move towards tech.
Path 1: Post-graduate
It used to be generally accepted that the only qualification worth having if your sights were set on tech was a degree in Computer Science.
Clearly, such a set of letters after your name is not going to do you any harm if you harbour ambitions of going in this direction. But there are degrees in other disciplines that can be the precursors to a move into technology.
Management: There are a wide variety of Bachelor of Arts degrees in business management available, including various specialisms. For the seriously committed, there is a post-graduate option to become an MBA – Master of Business Administration.
Specialist qualifications: There are several ways in which you can gain a qualification that can lead to tech without the subject in question being purely tech-specific. Examples include the following:
Engineering: Design Engineering, Mechatronic Engineering
IT: Cyber Security, Networking, Programming, User Support
As a general point, it is possible to find a way into tech with a degree in any subject you can name as long as you display the right attitude (see below) and make it clear you are committed to moving in that direction.
Path 2: With a professional qualification
There will always be opportunities for candidates who have specialised in particular disciplines before deciding which industry they want to work in. If you specialise in HR or law, for instance, you will find opportunities to use those particular skills and find work in the tech sector.
HR: The major industry body in human resources is the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Becoming a member of the institute, and thus being able to use the initials MCIPD after your name, marks you out as a serious HR player. Given the demand for fresh talent across the tech sector, you should definitely be able to apply these skills in this industry.
Legal: This is a legendarily challenging career path; to become a solicitor takes three years, and that’s if you have a law degree already. For a post-graduate in other subjects, you are looking at four years; for anybody starting from scratch, it’s six years. But think of it this way… if you get there, nobody is going to doubt your dedication.
Path 3: After working for a “Big Four” firm (or similar)
Let’s use accountancy as an example of an industry where you can rise to impressive heights and still move into the tech sector. In this instance, you might have worked for one of the “Big Four” professional services operations – Deloitte, PwC, EY or LPMG – before deciding to head to tech.
Here’s where attitude is going to be important. Many hiring managers in the tech sector prioritise candidates with the right approach over those with more relevant qualifications.You can turn your lack of tech experience into a positive by displaying an energy and eagerness to learn new things. You can do this by showing an interest in your spare time, maybe by creating a website or mobile app.
Be ready to emphasise the skills that made you successful in your previous career, but are also eminently transferable to tech. It could be that you have strong analytical and problem-solving capabilities. Or maybe you have a customer-friendly attitude, impressive communication skills and are good at building relationships with senior colleagues.
All these will stand you in good stead when you attempt to make the change.
Path 4: After burn-out or boredom
The days when the “portfolio career” was seen as a negative by hiring managers have long since passed.
It used to be seen as a mark of strength to work in the same sector, maybe even for the same employer, for your entire career. In the age of the global village, due credit is given to those who are not afraid to explore pastures new. So if you have hit the buffers in your current sector and feel the time is right for a change, for whatever reason, prepare yourself for a move to tech.
Be flexible in your mind set, emphasise your transferability and be prepared to state your case passionately. Drive and ambition are highly prized in the often-entrepreneurial tech sector; so put your best foot forward.
It’s also a good idea to leverage your existing business network. Look up people who work in tech; they are in the handy position of being familiar both with you and the direction in which you wish to travel. They can also be an advocate for you when the time is right.
Should you be concerned that the gaps in your experience are too glaring to overcome, take some tech training courses. There are some certifications that can be gained quickly which will both give you new knowledge and demonstrate your ability to learn fresh and relevant skills.
Path 5: The school of life
Professional qualifications and industry experience are not the only routes into digital careers. Those skilled in other areas might find some of our other guides of interest:
Get Into Tech: Can You Self-Teach Yourself a New Career?
How to Build a Career in B2B Sales & Marketing
10 European Hotspots for Digital Careers
Or simply show us what you’ve got and send in your CV
03 Jobs for Professionals in Tech
Thought that developers and hipster entrepreneurs were the only ones being hired in the tech sector? Think again. Qualified professionals are in ever-increasing demand as digital businesses mature and develop.
Salary & Rewards
High demand for professional talent in the tech sector ensures that remuneration is generally extremely competitive. Exact salaries and bonuses offer vary greatly dependent on the type of business, lifecycle stage, location and role requirements.
Here’s how your profession might look in the tech sector:
Accountancy jobs in tech
What you’ll do
In many ways, people who hold down accountancy jobs in tech are fulfilling a task that has not changed over the decades.
You’ll be expected to prepare the financial records of the company you are working for, make sure those records are accurate and check that taxes are paid on time.
However, in the modern age that will not be enough. You’ll also need to be pro-active and get involved with the formulation of the financial strategy of the business.
You should also expect to be dealing with the cloud rather than mountains of paper. As well as having a thorough understanding of the tech sector, you’ll be expected to utilise all the latest digital accounting methods to ensure the way your department operates is as forward-thinking and innovative as the rest of the business.
Example task: You join an ambitious tech start-up, which wants to offer digital solutions to a growing number of customers across various sectors. You are called upon to assist in the formulation of a strategy for the short and medium term, generating roadmaps and profitability goals based on your knowledge of the company’s past and present financial performance.
Key skill set
Extremely organised and able to maintain overview of large volumes of relevant financial and business data.
Forensic attention to detail and ability to analyse and interpret financial information.
Open to engaging with others across the company and participating in team culture
Compliance and legal jobs in tech
What you’ll do
The need to operate in a lawful way with large volumes of sensitive data means there will always be a healthy supply of compliance and legal jobs in tech.
You may be expected to deal with a wide range of tasks covering areas such as trademarks, copyright, licensing and terms and conditions. There will also be a focus on privacy and the necessity to follow best practices when it comes to dealing with customers’ data.
In the aftermath of the introduction of GDPR, it has never been more important for digital businesses to enforce the highest standards when it comes to data security. Legal and compliance teams will always be at the forefront of that process.
Example task: You are contacted by a tech firm which is concerned that, following the introduction of GDPR, it is at risk of breaching the new regulations. You quickly institute correct practices throughout the business to ensure data is securely stored and handled and that customers are properly informed of the new processes.
Key skill set
Able to learn quickly so that you become a thought leader when a business is confronted by new challenges relating to law and compliance.
Cool under pressure, to ensure that when action is threatened against your company you can focus on the best way to defend it.
Analytical and detail-focused in the face of highly complex legal jargon and documentation.
Management jobs in tech
What you’ll do
It’s always tough at the top – nowhere more so than in the case of management jobs in tech, a sector that is simultaneously exciting, challenging and highly competitive.
You’ll be expected to set the tone for your business, leading from the front and keeping abreast of all the latest tech developments to ensure your company is ahead of that all-important curve.
You should also be acutely aware of what your e-commerce rivals are up to so that customers come to you first – and keep coming back.
Example task: You are managing a small but growing digital marketing agency and discover new, larger premises are available in a tech hub less than a mile from your current headquarters. You need to assess the viability of moving your team to a new home and, if the move makes sound business sense, to be brave enough to push the button and go ahead with it.
Key skill set
Entrepreneurial, able to take advantages of opportunities that arise and with an instinct for what works – and doesn’t work – in the digital space
Bold and courageous, comfortable making big decisions that affect not just your future but that of many people below you.
The ability to be not just a manager, or a boss, but a leader – someone people are motivated to follow and give their best for.
HR jobs in tech
What you’ll do
Technology is a lively, thriving sector so there will always be a need for qualified individuals to fill HR jobs in tech.
As well as being able to fulfil all traditional HR responsibilities, you’ll have an expertise in the relevant qualifications acquired by people who aspire to work in tech. You’ll also need to know how they apply to your particular part of the industry.
Moreover, you’ll need to be able to recognise the right attitude among applicants who may be coming to tech from different backgrounds. They may not have the “right” qualifications, but they could still be perfect for the position you are trying to fill.
Example task: You are working at a digital business and technology consultancy, which decides to expand and open a new office in a city 200 miles away. You will need to create descriptions of all the jobs at the new base that need to be filled, and to operate the process by which the best candidates are found, as well as taking an active role in the interview process.
Key skill set
Intuitive, able to spot the right person for a role but also happy to use digital methods such as psychometric testing.
Completely conversant with all aspect of employment law so that the company is fully compliant in its operations.
Patient, willing to listen to listen to internal grievances and to follow the correct resolution procedures.
04 10 Reasons to Work In Tech
Why work in tech? As a qualified professional, you’ll likely have a wide range of potential industries to go into, and some will fit your skillset better than others.
Working in tech isn’t for everybody, but here are some great reasons to give it some serious thought...
The world’s fastest-growing industry
This is an industry that continues to defy the doom-mongers and tread a consistently upward path. Look at the names at the top of the digital game: Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify… just imagine working in an industry with players as big as that at its forefront.
Welcome to the cutting edge
It’s no exaggeration; this is a sector that is right out there ahead of the curve. No other field comes close to the digital world when it comes to genuinely thrilling innovations that will affect the daily lives of millions. Coming up next are Artificial Intelligence, voice activation and ever-higher levels of personalisation. Who wouldn’t want to be involved with that?
New ideas actioned, fast
Just look at how the digital world has changed in the last 10, 20 and 30 years. That is a trend that is not going to alter any time soon. This is an arena where things move at lightning speed, giving you the chance to make your ideas heard and enjoy real, solid achievement in a short space of time.
Individuals can make a real difference
Tech firms – well, the good ones at least – value contributions from every member of the team. These places are the very embodiment of terms like agile and nimble. That means if you have a good idea, there is an excellent chance it will be listened to and acted upon.
No two days are the same
We all know what it’s like when you become a victim of routine, every day merges into the next and before you know it, your get-up-and-go has got up and gone. If you stand still in tech, you are moving backwards – that means there is every incentive to keep things interesting and driving forward.
Remote working is common practice
More and more firms and sectors are discovering the benefits of allowing their staff to work from home or remote locations. Colleagues who are spared a lengthy daily commute are happier and healthier. So make the most of being in a sector where you don’t have to sit at the same desk in the same office every day.
Shared success; generous share schemes
The nature of tech firms, particularly start-ups, mean there are opportunities to earn long-term rewards by taking shares in the company when it is just getting off the ground. Naturally, this implies a risk but it also increases the incentive for every team member to make their venture a winner.
On diversity, tech’s ahead
Recent studies showed that there is still a great disparity between the sexes, and like many industries tech still has major barriers to diversity it needs to tackle. However, many studies have shown that tech is ahead of the game when it comes to recruiting on a level playing field. Certainly, the sector is vocal in its support of diversity – both in terms of hiring and the products being created.
You’ll work with great people
There is so much to be said for a career that brings you together with like-minded people. Whatever the challenges of your current position, the days go with a swing if you are surrounded by colleagues who share your interest and passion for innovation and advancement.
It’s a breeding ground for entrepreneurs
The nature of the tech sector means that, if you have a healthy dose of the entrepreneurial spirit, you will discover how to express it. This is a world that encourages boldness and innovation – it could be your first step to pursuing your dream of running your own business.
05 How to Get Hired
Like any job search, getting a job in tech requires planning and proactive effort. Whilst demand is high for professionals in tech, you’ll have to prove your value, and your ability to transition into this sector.
Here’s our advice for professionals on how to get a job (and build a career) in tech:
The skill set
A little knowledge goes a long way. You can come into tech from almost any background, but familiarity with the subject matter will count for a lot.
Be a fast learner. Whatever you know when you walk through the door, there will always be plenty more to take on board. This is a multi-faceted, ever-changing industry and if you can keep pace, it will really pay off.
Acquire a digital footprint. Display some tech credentials. Polish up your social media presence, create your own website, write some blogs – generally, make sure the fact that you get tech shines brightly.
Applying for roles
Be strategic. Don’t simply apply for every job that comes up. Be honest with yourself and focus on those opportunities that genuinely suit your abilities. It doesn’t send a good message if you apply for nine jobs in three areas at the same place at the same time.
Use your network. Ask around the people you know who are working in the industry. Be positive and bold – ask them if they know of any openings and get an honest opinion of the best places to work. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions to senior staff – they are the gatekeepers.
Your CV isn’t set in stone. It’s probably the first step in your campaign to get hired, so make your CV work as hard as possible. If you’re applying for a management role, tailor the way you talk about your experience to focus on your successes in that area. In short, don’t have just one CV.
Be persistent. Tech is a popular sector and, as a result, competition for positions can be intense. Don’t be disheartened if your initial approaches are rebuffed; believe in yourself and keep trying. It’s worth it when you get there.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Do your research on the role, the company, the people there. Know all about the business and the latest developments there and be ready to talk about them pro-actively in your interview.
Practise your answers. Read the job spec thoroughly and look for where the questions are likely to come from. Then work on some well-honed answers that you can have ready to roll out when the time comes. So many interview questions are now scenario-based and start: “Tell me about a time when…” Have some answers ready.
Tell me why... This is the biggest question you will be asked. Every company is looking for someone to come in and make a difference. Work out why you want to work there and how, precisely, you would be a force for good once you walk through the door. A really good answer here could seal the deal.
Follow up. Have some questions ready to ask at the end of the interview. Always inquire about what happens next, how soon you can expect to hear from your interviewer. And, crucially, send an email thanking them for their time and saying how much you enjoyed the meeting.
The Career Path
Growth potential. Tech, although extremely competitive, continues to grow. Once you are through the door, there will be so many ways to move on up. One thing is for sure, you won’t be sat in the same corner office for 20 years.
Learning curve. The knowledge you acquire once you are through the door can be used to move sideways and diagonally as well as directly upwards. There will always be opportunities to move forward.
Ultra-transferability. By moving into tech, you have demonstrated your ability to learn new skills. Should you decide at a later stage to change direction yet again, you will have even more arrows in your quiver when you target that next step.
Inspired to apply?
Pentasia is actively hiring now for qualified professionals to work in the digital and tech sector. Jobs are available in Europe, USA and Worldwide, and we are always keen to hear from ambitious professionals.
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