7 Things To Do Before Making the Career Switch to IT

Important Reality Checks Before Switching to IT

July 15, 2022
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Get a job in IT!

All the money is in software right now!

The future is software!

You've been hearing it for years now. And you're finally taking the step toward an IT career switch. There were over 500,000 open IT roles in the US as of 2021. So, how are you going to secure a position for your desired career successfully? 

If you're new to the IT industry, it can be rather daunting. But don’t worry. 

With the help of our team at Carrus, I’ve compiled a list of seven things you should do before making a career change to information technology!

Ready? Let's go.

Important Reality Checks Before Switching to IT

While chasing a new career opportunity can be exciting, it's important to do your research and set realistic expectations for yourself. Here are a few key things to keep in mind as you explore a career in IT:

  • Understand that switching domains will reset your experience meter. Even if you have years of experience in another field, you'll likely be starting from the bottom when you make a switch to IT. It's important to understand that your experience in other domains will be largely irrelevant in the tech world.
  • Be prepared for a lot of learning. The tech world is vast and complex. Be prepared to spend a significant amount of time learning technical skills and gaining hands-on experience, even after you've made the switch to IT.
  • Set realistic salary expectations (be ready for a drop from your current job). Although the average person working in IT makes about 95k, don't expect to make six figures right out of the gate. For many, the salaries may be humbling, especially after being used to a more experienced salary in another domain.
  • Be ready to take orders from younger colleagues. The fact of the matter is that you're joining the party a bit late with no prior experience. So although you're a veteran in your previous domain, you're a newbie in tech. That means you'll have to adjust to potentially taking orders from younger coworkers with more experience.
  • Make sure you're okay with ambiguity. In the world of technology, things are constantly changing and evolving – including necessary skills. You need to be comfortable with ambiguity and be able to adapt to change quickly.

1. Ask: What Do You Want Out of a Career in IT?

This is a question you should be asking yourself before making any career move, not just into IT. What are your motivations? Do you want job security? A high salary? Fulfilling work? Work-life balance? Which programming language speaks to you the most? Figure out what's important to you, and see if a career in IT can offer that.

The next most important thing you'll want to establish is where in IT you want to work. Nowadays, there's software involved in just about anything. There are roles for all kinds of people and all kinds of interests. Do you want to help people? There are roles in technical support and customer success. Are you interested in marketing? Consider a career in growth hacking. Do you prefer startup vibes or big tech? Options are endless!

2. Research the Prerequisites

Check if your desired field within IT has any prerequisites. For example, if you want to be a data scientist, having a background in statistics will give you a significant leg up. Or, if you're interested in front-end web development, design skills will come in handy. And for areas like DevOps, it's helpful to have an understanding of both development and operations, with some kind of formal education on your belt. 

But don't despair if you don't have the prerequisites! They're not always required, and even if they are, acquiring skills and experience isn't as hard as you might think. Carrus can help you communicate the areas you need to make an impression so that you can make a successful career switch to IT post-interview.

3. Talk to Others Who Have the Job You Want

Once you have a good idea of what you want and what's required, reach out to people who already have the job! They can give you an idea of what a day in their life looks like, what challenges they face, what they love about their work, and more.

Not sure how to find these people? Social media platforms like LinkedIn are a great place to start, or you attend industry events. And of course, don't forget about your own personal network!

If you're not sure what to say or how to approach experienced professionals, don't worry because Carrus can give you templates and guidance on how to network so that you make the most of your interactions.

Here's an example of what you might say:

"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm interested in a career in _____. I noticed you've got quite the experience in this sector, and I was wondering if I could take a few minutes of your time to hop on a call so that you can share your experiences at _____ with me? Here’s my Calendly link for a 20 minute call!"

If you've met them in an in-person setting, you can replace the request for an online call with an offer to buy them coffee or lunch, where you can have a face-to-face conversation and even build rapport that can prove useful later such as an internal reference.

4. Start Building Your Skills

No matter what role you want in IT, there are certain basic skills you'll need to succeed. These include critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytics. If you're not confident in your abilities in these areas, don't worry! There are plenty of resources available to help you build these skills.

One way to do this is by taking online courses. For example, Coursera offers over 3,800 courses in topics ranging from data science to project management. Skillshare is big too. LinkedIn learning has a wide array of video courses that provide certifications that you can add directly to your profile. And if you want a more hands-on approach, try attending a coding boot camp like Full Stack Academy. These intensive programs will teach you the basics of coding in just a few weeks.

5. Get Some Experience

While not always necessary, having experience in the field can give you a significant advantage when applying for jobs. If you're still new to IT, there are a few ways to get your foot in the door with hiring managers.

  • One option is to look for internships on platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and even Google, which curates opportunities from everywhere with relevant employment details. These can be paid or unpaid, and they'll give you a taste of what it's like to work in IT.
  • You can also look for part-time roles or contract positions. These are often a great way to get your foot in the door of a company and show them what you're capable of.
  • Consider volunteering your time. There are many non-profits and other organizations that could use your help, and this is a great way to build your skills and experience.
  • Build your own portfolio. In the IT field, your portfolio is just as important as your resume. So start working on side projects that you can include in your portfolio. Not only will this give you a chance to flex your creative muscles, but it'll also make you more attractive to potential employers.

6. Update Your Resume

Once you've built up skills and experience, it's time to update your resume. Start by ensuring that your contact information is up to date and that there are no typos or grammatical errors.

Then, focus on highlighting your skills and experience in a way that's relevant to the role you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for a job as a web developer, be sure to highlight your experience with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

If you don't have much experience in the field yet, that's okay! Just focus on highlighting the skills and experience you do have in a way that's relevant to the role you're interested in.

Finally, don't forget to include any side projects or personal projects that you've worked on. These can be a great way to show off your skills and experience, even if you don't have any professional experience in the field yet.

Carrus has experienced recruiters who can help you perfect your resume and communicate main value points to maximize your chances for landing that interview (which we help you with too).

7. Consider Getting a Mentor for Expert Guidance

One of the best ways to learn about a new career is to talk to someone who's already in that field. While you can make professional connections on LinkedIn, they can't always be there for you at your beck and call.

A mentor can provide you with constant insights, advice, and guidance that you can't get from any other source. If you don't know anyone in the IT field, there are a few ways to find a mentor.

One option is to see if anyone in your personal or professional network can introduce you to someone in the IT field who would be willing to serve as your mentor. Or you could join a professional organization or meetup group – these are great places to meet people with similar interests and goals, and you never know who you might meet.

But your most effective route could be hitting up FAANG-level coaches on Carrus who can sit down with you 1-on-1 to prepare you for what's to come in your recruitment journey for your IT career.

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