How Career Switchers Can Brand Themselves For Tech

Posted by Christine Campbell on Friday, May 8, 2020 at 2:40 PM PDT

Switching careers can be a daunting idea—especially going into a tech field – but if you find yourself thinking about switching, you are in good company. A recent poll by Indeed found that about half (49%) of respondents had already made a serious career switch, and of those that hadn’t 69% said they were planning to.  

But switching careers is not something people do on a whim. The switchers in the poll averaged about 11 months laying the groundwork to do it. Here’s why: 

  • Switchers want to get clear about the field and role they are interested in 
  • They need to understand the hard and soft skills expected – and work on getting them 
  • And they need to rebrand themselves by translating their skills and experiences – and materials – so that employers see their value 

This all takes focus, time, and effort. 

If you’re thinking about tech, it’s still a good time to begin to make the switch, according to Seattle web dev recruiter, Alex Karlen. "Tech is very much a need - and will continue to be a need for companies - because we live and work online."  She encourages people to use this time of uncertainty to start laying the groundwork to prepare you for when the market begins hiring in earnest again. 

Seattle University’s Web Development’s monthly Meet-Ups tackle the issue of a career change. A critical focus is on how career switchers brand themselves for tech. Led by the SU Web Dev career support team, personal rebranding is the beginning of the journey. 

How do you develop your personal brand?

Identify what you already know 

Transferable skills are the sought-after skills and experiences that you bring from prior jobs and volunteer work. Communication, teamwork, leadership, analysis, project management—these are common transferable skills. Think about and capture examples that you can use in cover letters and interviews. 

Become familiar with your new strengths 

You are constantly growing and changing – but has your internal narrative kept up with that growth? Who are you now that you’ve grown? Try taking a free or low-cost online strengths test to find out. You might be surprised by what you learn. 

Compare your strengths to some of the most in-demand skills in the marketplace. LinkedIn annually tracks the hard and soft skills employers are looking for –take a look and see where you stand.  

Start looking at “dream job” descriptions. What are the required and desired qualifications? Make a spreadsheet and note where you have the skill or strength—and where you don’t. You might not be ready to apply yet, but now you know what else you need and can start working on gaining that skill. 

Tell your story 

You’ve identified your transferable skills. You know your skills and strengths (and which ones you still need to get.) Now it’s time to tell your story. Expand your worksheet to examine how your strengths and skills align with the needs of your job description. Then, use these 4 simple steps to develop a story that helps you rebrand: 

  • Describe who you are in one sentence: “I’m a …” 
  • Experience and skills: “I’ve been doing X and have had Y success.” 
  • Talk about what you love in the previous work that you will bring to your new role: “I love what I do and my favorite part is ... because….” 
  • Connect to what you want to do now “That’s why I’m interested in … and what I find exciting is …” 

Now put it all together and you’ve got yourself the beginnings of your new story – your new brand. 

Lay the groundwork 

With a strong personal rebrand, career switchers are ready to use it to guide the other important steps smart switchers take: 

  • Take courses to learn the hard skills that jobs require 
  • Take on work at your current job that gives you experience doing the thing you want to do 
  • Volunteer with organizations or for friends to get the experience you need 
  • Give yourself an assignment and do it and write about it 
  • Start to build your network in that space and have “coffee” with people who do what you want to do or who know people you want to know 
  • Build your online presence to showcase your skills, with a website that features your skills and who you are, or a carefully curated GitHub account 
  • Update your LinkedIn profile, resume, social media presence to reflect your evolving interests 
  • And finally, start the job search with a well-developed sense of why you’re switching, how you uniquely address industry pain points, and an array of products that prove that.  

Don’t put off the decision to switch just because things are uncertain right now. It is going to take time, so get started now because the payoff will be worth it. How are Indeed’s career switchers doing? 88% report themselves happier having taken the leap.