By Cooper Nelson
Whether it’s information systems, cybersecurity, web development or cloud computing, technology careers are experiencing tremendous growth. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of 667,000 new jobs between 2020 and 2030 in roles that depend on skills like cloud computing and information security.
Careers in the technology sector offer several other strong benefits outside the proliferation of roles. Many jobs in this industry offer pay that’s higher than the average for all careers, and many jobs can be done from home. In fact, remote jobs have been a major component of the growth of the technology industry. Remote roles have risen 357% across all industries since May 2020 and have grown 3.7 times in software and IT services.
The drawback? Although technology jobs are booming, they’re also competitive. Beating out other applicants for a role isn’t always easy. Often, more than one qualified candidate will apply for the same position at a company, especially if it’s a desirable role.
Amid so much growth and competition, how can you catch the eye of a tech company during a job search? Read on for seven steps to help you stand out in the tech sector.
Staying on top of developing industry trends and topics is critical if you’re looking to stand out to a company. For example, if you want to assume a leadership role in cybersecurity, you’ll need to understand the types of cybersecurity threats that can compromise a network.
And, since cybersecurity is an ever-changing sector, you’ll want to pay close attention to developing tech news and content as it shapes the future of cybersecurity.
Ongoing education is one of the best ways to stay in the technology loop and keep pace with constant change and growth. The right technology degrees can help solidify your understanding of cornerstone technology fields while preparing you for a future in tech.
The right education can sometimes serve as a springboard for employees looking to move into different tech jobs. That’s why many students may choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and learn foundational skills in IT and complex computing. Many of these same students may decide to continue their education through a master’s degree in information systems, and polish skills in research science and computer systems.
Mentorship is another powerful way to stand out from the competition. Partnering with a mentor means spending time with someone with experience in the technology industry — someone who can teach you how to reach your goals.
Sometimes, this will mean you’ll regularly connect on a phone call or in person to check in, gauge your progress toward goals and ask questions. Other times, mentorship is simply a period you spend learning from someone who can share industry experience and insight.
Mentors can help reframe your vision and take actionable steps toward your goals. They can impart the confidence and education you might need to take the next step in your professional career. They can also help expose you to unfamiliar perspectives while allowing you to learn from mistakes they’ve already made.
In the tech industry, mentorships are often field-specific: You might look for someone with experience in cybersecurity, information technology, machine learning, web development or another technology sector.
When you find a prospective mentor, you might consider making a relatively formal request for mentorship by outlining your career aspirations and identifying why you believe they can help you reach your goals. If they accept your request, you can begin a mentorship for a set period or until you decide to end the relationship.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a mentor:
There are many places to find a mentor. You might check your current organizations or cast a wider net across social media.
Developing a list of strong business connections can help you land a job, obtain a character reference or access job opportunities not widely publicized.
Networking in the tech sector can take many forms. Some tech organizations may prefer face-to-face experiences, where employees gather to socialize, exchange information and develop fresh perspectives on current trends.
In other cases, it takes place remotely. Through online networking platforms, direct messaging and related methods, you can network with valuable tech contacts without leaving your home.
Consider the following options for networking in the tech industry:
Sometimes, networking in the tech space requires a little creativity. For example, if there’s a particular contact in the tech space you’d like to meet, try scheduling a call or a meetup with them yourself. In other cases, contributing to a well-known technology publication can help get your name out there to a broader network.
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Online platforms can provide valuable direction for employees at all stages of their tech careers. Whether you’re looking to find a new job, deepen your experience in a particular tech field or simply connect with industry contacts, online platforms can further support already successful tech careers.
Here are just a few:
The online tech platforms you use will depend on your goals, skills and specialties. For example, if you enjoy deepening your relationships with relevant tech contacts, you’ll likely spend more of your time networking. If you’re looking for a career change, you might invest more time in tech job boards.
Even if you’re unlikely to be considered for a position, there’s no harm in applying to an opening at a company you like. Sometimes standing out means regularly applying to new openings when they arise — even if the job description is a little different from what you’re currently doing.
Applying has several benefits, even when you’re somewhat satisfied with your current position. For one, applying to a new company forces you to regularly update your resumé and cover letter. Each time you add a relevant skill or experience to your resumé, you strengthen your candidacy for hire.
Applying for jobs also helps to expand your tech network. Even if you aren’t accepted for a posted position, recruiters, hiring managers and company executives might note the experience you list on your resumé. When a job that suits your skill set becomes available, they might reach out directly to gauge your interest at a later date.
As an employee in the technology industry, you should aspire to develop a level of expertise on relevant technology trends, updates and events. Even as an independent professional, your opinions will shape your future in the technology sector. Developing knowledge about topics in your field will help round out your character.
Beyond the job application process, relevant expertise can help you project a confident professional image. Your knowledge and ability help craft your persona — both at work and during your personal time.
Developing relevant industry opinions and know-how takes time. Often, you can expedite this process when you pursue education in a related field. For example, students who obtain a bachelor’s degree in information technology will emerge with a strong background in cybersecurity, networking and other fields.
Don’t forget to regularly update your portfolio while working in the technology industry. Skills evolve at a rapid pace in this sector, and your resumé and portfolio should reflect how you’ve kept up.
Your portfolio should serve as more than an explanation of your skills, though. When possible, include work examples, job reviews and feedback; satisfied customer testimonials; and other elements that speak to your capabilities in the office.
Even if you have minimal experience in the tech industry, you can populate your portfolio with educational credentials.
Your portfolio should also tell your story as an industry professional. Feel free to include items that outline your integrity and work ethic — anything that can help separate you from the competition in the tech sector.
One of the most important aspects of standing out in this competitive industry is possessing the proper education and skills. A technology degree can provide the foundational knowledge to be prepared to enter this career or to enhance your skill set to pursue new opportunities.
Whether you’re new to the sector, looking to learn a new skill, pursue a growth opportunity at your company or stay up to date on trends, a degree can help. University of Phoenix offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of information technology, computer science, information systems and more. Visit phoenix.edu/technology to explore degree offerings.
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