Congratulations on getting started in your new career as a developer! We know it was a hard decision, but it's going to pay off in the long run. And speaking of paying off, how exactly should you start searching for that tech job to jump-start your new career?
We've put together seven useful tips to help you succeed in your tech job search. But before we get into the details, you need to make sure you're clear on what kind of tech job you're looking for. You'll want to focus your search on the developer career path that you're following. This will help you get the most out of your search and get started on your new career.
1. Be public about your tech job search
If you're changing careers to follow your dream of working in tech or development, take pride in your decision and share it with your friends and professional contacts. You'll be amazed at how much moral support you'll receive as you start your journey. Plus, your friends and colleagues will know to send a tech job opening your way when they hear about one.
2. Update your professional web presence
Following our first point, you should also update your personal website and your professional social media pages. As you expand your professional network, you never know who'll be taking a peek at your online presence, and an updated social media page shows that you're serious about your career change. Social media is also a great way to track the news and events that are grabbing the attention of your new tech contacts.
Beyond social media, you'll also want to consider creating a technical portfolio. These portfolios contain various projects that illustrate your proficiency with the technical skills required for the role you're pursuing, and they also help set you apart from the competition. Need help creating one? Check out our guide on building technical portfolios.
3. Have your elevator pitch ready
After announcing your plans to switch careers, you'll probably hear the common follow-up question, "So, why do you want to be a developer?" This can be a tough question to answer in a few sentences, so you'll want to prepare an elevator pitch ahead of time.
An elevator pitch is a brief statement outlining your skills and goals. Essentially, your elevator pitch should tell your story and include:
- What you did before. ("I worked for five years as a digital marketing professional…")
- How you realized that development was a better career for you. ("…and became really passionate about front-end development when my company completely changed its website design…")
- What you're looking for in your new career. ("I'm looking for entry-level opportunities at a company that wants to combine SEO and front-end development.")
Developing an elevator pitch will help you quickly highlight your skills, experience, and what you're looking for when you're introduced to someone who could help you land a tech job.
4. Start your tech job search using your existing network
Chances are that you know someone — or you know someone who knows someone — who's a developer or works in tech. Set up a time for an informal chat over coffee or lunch and tell them about your new career plans. Even if they don't know of any current job postings, they'll remember to ping you if they hear about something. This is also a great opportunity to ask about local tech networking groups (more on that below).
If you already work for a large corporation and have a good relationship with your manager, then you're in luck. A lot of big companies allow employees to apply internally to vacant positions. Since most internal job applicants need to notify their manager at some point, it's a good idea to be upfront about this. They may even vouch for you as a reliable reference.
5. Go to tech networking events
There's no better way to get into the local tech job market than attending networking events. Some networking events are exactly that — organized social hours where people mingle over light snacks and drinks. Others will include a presentation or panel discussion with time for networking afterward.
When possible, try to attend networking events that feature presentations. It's much easier to strike up a conversation with a stranger about what the presenter had to say. Also, presenters and panelists often make themselves available after the presentation, which is another great opportunity to make a new connection. Best case, you'll make a new professional contact with a promising tech job lead.
6. Treat your job search like its own job
Along with networking events, you should be actively searching for tech jobs every day. Try setting up a schedule and sticking to it as you would an actual job.
If you already have a full-time job, commit to searching for at least an hour or two each day. Use this time to search online for new job postings and work on cover letters and resumes. Remember that each job application should include a customized cover letter and resume to show that you understand the job description.
7. Manage your expectations
While some people get extremely lucky landing that dream tech job after their first networking social, this is the exception rather than the rule. For most, switching careers takes time and patience. Keep at it, and remember that it's all going to pay off.
Searching for a tech job will pay off
Searching for a tech job is a lot of work, but it'll pay off. Companies all over are fighting for talented developers. In the meantime, remember to keep building your development skills to stand out as a job candidate.Not sure which skills to learn? Our Career Paths will guide you through the best skills to learn to help you succeed in your new career.