The year 2021 could be the year you will make a career change. We cannot avoid mentioning the hard times that the COVID-19 outbreak brought, which left millions without jobs. Many other people who kept their jobs were left puzzled with the question – is it the right moment to change my career? Finding a new role involves making significant lifestyle changes or trying a different role within your current company or team.
The coronavirus outbreak also forced enterprises into an important social experiment. With social distancing policies and work from home, people are becoming more interested in career paths that allow them to build stable careers while working remotely, such as careers in the IT sector.
In older generations, employees who otherwise would have switched jobs chose to stay on their current career path because they thought too much job changing could make them appear disloyal or fickle. However, this perception is different with Millennials and Gen Zers. Studies suggest that 88% of Americans who recently changed careers said that they are happier since making the transition. That is quite a high approval rating that shows that a career change can make you more satisfied, even if the transition itself can be an unsettling period in your life. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that IT jobs are among the fastest-growing occupations in 2021.
Career changes and pivots involve more risk, disruption, and friction than staying on a more traditional, linear career path. If you want to know what it takes to successfully reinvent yourself, take a look at our step-by-step guide on changing your career in 2021.
Tips for Maximizing Career Change Efforts
- Create a plan
There is a wide range of reasons that could drive a career transition. Besides making more money, surveys show top responses to be the desire to shorten a commute, have more flexibility, find better professional development, and to be happy. Actually, the majority of respondents cite happiness at work as their top reason for career reinvention. And since the motivations differ from one person to another (along with the fact that several desires may be in play), it’s important to develop a plan to reflect your goals and priorities. Once you’re clear about what you want and what’s required for a specific position, you can create a checklist for targeting your desired roles and determine whether a position fits your long-term needs.
- Assess your values, interests, and skills
Review your past volunteer work, successful roles, jobs, and projects to identify your preferred skill sets and activities. Are your skills and core values addressed through your present career? If not, then it’s time to consider a career alternative. If there is a career path that could bring you more joy and enrich your life, then your energy and time spent into changing careers is well spent. Don’t hesitate to put that down as a new career goal.
- Alternative careers
Do you have a specific alternative career in mind? If not, grab a piece of paper and brainstorm some ideas for career alternatives. Research your career options and discuss your core values and skills with friends and networking contacts. If you are considering starting a new career path in the IT industry, we can teach you everything you need to know for your new career. We can also help you by providing more detailed information about specific IT fields to help you conduct a comparative evaluation of different sectors within the IT industry.
- Connect your competencies to the current market
Wanting to change careers and defining your goals are excellent first steps. But you need to show potential employers why you are a great hire. You should also keep in mind that ideal candidates are not only interested but qualified. Connect your competencies to the market by looking at job descriptions to correlate your desires or experience to the requested skills and competencies. Pursue roles where you’re 70% qualified (or more) to optimize your chances for landing a job. And if you’re not interested in building skills, or you keep putting off building them, that’s a sign that a certain role is not a good fit for you.
- Setting up a job shadow
Job shadowing is spending time following a professional (in a field of your interest) as they work to observe the work first hand. Observing for a few hours to a few days can help you get a better understanding of a particular career. Also, you can get some hands-on experience from internships, apprenticeships, and volunteering.
To enter a new field, you should investigate available educational opportunities. Consider taking a course, enroll in a training program, and get the necessary certifications. MyComputerCareer offers classes in seven different locations across several states, as well as career services to help you with your job search. We can help you develop new skills and pave your way for a career change.
It is not enough to just apply to jobs in a new industry. You need to let your network know that you’re actively looking for a new career and taking steps to position yourself for the change (e.g., embarking on a training program, learning new skills, taking classes, rebranding yourself, etc.).
- Arm yourself with patience
How long does it take to successfully change careers and land a new job role? According to recent survey data, about 80% of respondents (of 1,000 working Americans) believe that a job search shouldn’t take longer than three months. However, this may be unrealistic, since other studies found that career changers spend up to 11 months (on average) before deciding to take a new role. So, you should be prepared to spend anywhere from 6 to 12 months to change careers.
- Create your tools
When you build the skills, get certified, and gain some experience that makes you feel (at least) 70% qualified for the job, it’s time to work on your job search tools. Update your LinkedIn profile and customize your resume to reflect your relevant qualifications. To figure out what your resume should look like, look to the job postings for qualities, experience, and relevant skills that employers are looking for.
Reach out to people in your network that may have connections or insight related to your job target. Also, make use of your relationships with people who you used to be close to (e.g., dormant ties) but haven’t been in touch with for a while.
Modify your profile and resume based on the feedback you get during informational meetings or job interviews. Look for online groups, professional associations, panel presentations, and conferences to expand your knowledge.
Does Changing Careers into IT Pay Off?
There is a growing need for tech workers, which results in a nationwide talent shortage. It means that working in the IT industry can be lucrative, as people with the right skills and experience are being offered competitive pay in order to fill the talent gap and keep businesses competitive. In general, tech jobs pay well, and many people who changed careers into this industry did so in pursuit of higher income.
However, people typically take an average of 12 months to decide whether to make a switch (that’s about two months longer than people switching into other industries). That’s because job requirements in IT include knowledge of specific programs and systems, which hiring managers need to learn, while transferable skills (such as soft skills), like time management and adaptability, can transfer between different industries.
How Do Employees Break into the IT Industry?
In order to make the transition, people who switched into IT enroll in specific courses or training programs. Some go back to college to get a tech-specific degree. Others, who don’t have the time to get back to college take training programs to prepare for a career change. Also, mentors and career coaches can help you get a clear vision of your future career path. Since you are an older job seeker, career coaches can provide valuable career advice, help with career planning, and keep you up-to-date on the changing job trends and requirements.
Social media can be a very useful tool when it comes to making a transition into the IT industry. You can use it to research your new career path, learn and develop your knowledge, highlight your transferable skills, network and build connections, as well as to apply to relevant positions (e.g., LinkedIn).
One major factor in the decision-making process is the financial cost of changing careers. People changing careers in other industries spend an average of $15,500 on their continued education, while people who pay to learn I-T- skills spend an average of $38,000. However, since employees are offered competitive salaries, the investment pays off. Most career changers managed to recoup on the financial investment they made to change careers. For example, in a competitive job market such as IT, software engineers can easily earn $150,000 per year.
Making certain commitments is necessary to change careers into IT, but tech workers generally report being happier with their new jobs since making the transition. Also, breaking into the IT sector might seem more like a natural progression than a career change because employees across a range of industries (from finance to marketing) are picking up more data analytics and tech skills to perform their jobs. This can be an early indication of how tech skills will become more integral across different types of work in the future. Organizations are becoming increasingly data-driven – partly because they are harnessing the power of AI, and there’s a need to collect, analyze, and process data across different roles.
Reinventing your career by switching from one industry into another (e.g., from more social work into IT) can be both rewarding and challenging. Before you start building skills, anticipate the experience and hands-on skills employers will be looking for. Then, choose training courses that allow you to work on real-world projects and problems and develop your portfolio of work samples. Also, you should remember that clarifying your values and identifying your strengths is important, but without action – it’s utterly useless. Overthinking and intellectualizing can make you doubt yourself, and the antidote to doubt is action. Look for small, low-risk opportunities that you can accomplish in those few spare hours you have.
Once you are ready to start applying for jobs in your new field, write a resume that’s based on your goals, as well as a cover letter that reflects your new aspirations. Focus on making a career development plan to reduce the risk of making bad decisions and to be able to recognize when you are ready to develop new skills and look for new opportunities.
For those looking for IT certifications (such as CCNA, CCENT, CompTIA A+, CEH, Microsoft Certified Professional, etc.), MyComputerCareer is a technical school with great IT courses taught online and at our seven campuses. If you are new to the IT industry or are after career advancements, contact us for more information.