- Research shows most of the well-paying tech jobs on offer today are in non-tech industries.
- That means that jobseekers with strictly tech backgrounds need to position themselves differently.
- Insider spoke with four recruiters and careers coaches for their best tips.
Looking for a job in tech? You’re in luck. There’s rarely been a better time to do so.
This might sound counterintuitive based on recent headlines. Amid lingering economic uncertainty, the bloodbath in Silicon Valley has been brutal: Amazon is cutting 18,000 jobs, Meta slashed 11,000 roles, and Twitter fired 3,750 people.
And yet research suggests that well-paying tech jobs are abundant — they’re just not in the tech industry. Job postings for tech-focused roles were up 25% from January to October 2022 compared with the same period in 2021, according to a report from Dice, the tech careers site. Around 60% of the top 100 employers of tech talent were from sectors like healthcare, consulting, defense, and banking.
Meanwhile, a study from workforce data provider Revelio Labs found that nearly three-fourths of the laid-off tech workers last year found a new job within three months; more than half found a job that paid more than what they previously earned.
“It’s a reminder of just how expansive the tech workforce is — it’s not just Silicon Valley,” said Tim Herbert, the chief research officer at Comptia. “Every industry sector hires tech professionals and there are tech hubs around the country in many cities that may fly under the radar.”
So if you’re a tech worker looking to pitch yourself to a new industry, what’s the best way to go about it? How can you get the attention of recruiters? And how can you use your non-traditional background to your advantage? Insider spoke with four recruiters and coaches for their best tips.
Pay special attention to keywords and language
If you’ve spent your career in Big Tech, applying for a job in healthcare or banking might seem like a leap for a recruiter who’s inundated with resumes. That’s why you need to help them connect the dots, said Kyle Elliott, a career and interview coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Elliott suggested using keywords from the job posting and rewriting your resume in its image. For example, let’s say the posting requires that a candidate has project management skills and leadership experience.
“You should write bullet points with those keywords and that explain how your past experience fits,” he said. “You’re saying, ‘You’re looking for these skills: I have them.'”
Another pro-tip: Using the language of the industry you’re targeting. In your past life, you might have called customers “users.” But in healthcare, they’re called patients and in banking, they’re called clients.
“Think of the job posting as a recipe card,” he said.
Soft skills can really shine
Many jobs have technical screeners to them, so soft skills like “polish and presentation” can really make a candidate stand out, said Tyler Martin, the vice president of talent supply at freelancing platform Toptal.
“You can’t just go into a hole, code by yourself for three months, and not tell anyone what you’re doing,” Martin said. “Exceeding in the softer skills is something that will set aside most of the tech talent from each other honestly.”
Letting these soft skills shine includes being yourself, said Abhi Shrikhande, the vice president and general manager for technology services at Toptal. He emphasized that people do their best work when they feel comfortable.
“Typically where it doesn’t go as well is when somebody came into the engagement — or somebody came into the interview process — trying to win the job as if it’s a win-loss thing, as opposed to trying to find the right fit,” Shrikhande said.
Think about your ‘playbooks’
You might be inclined to hide or be bashful about your non-traditional background, but Elliott and other experts say there’s no need. Rather, he advised using your cover letter to call attention to the advantages you have over other candidates. Your experience elsewhere is actually a virtue.
“Don’t hide it — shine a light on why you’re a strong candidate even though you come from a different industry,” said Elliott.
Given the amount of flux in the tech labor market, keeping an open but clear mind is important during the job search, added Christy Schumann, the senior vice president of talent operations at Toptal.
“You want something that you enjoy and that’s motivating for you, but look at the opportunities that are presented holistically,” Schumann said. “Promote multiple aspects of your experience on your resume, including all the certifications, because now is the time to just make sure you have a holistic view of yourself.”
Be thoughtful and smart about how you position yourself, said Allison Hemming, CEO of Hired Guns, a digital talent agency. “Think about what playbooks you have to offer and how they apply to Fortune 2000 companies,” she said.
In others, think about ways to translate your past experience and achievements to a new sector. Perhaps you helped create a data strategy, or you designed a cybersecurity system, or you wrote the code for a digital software product. Ask yourself: How could I do similar things in a new industry?
“If you can show how you’ll transfer your expertise and knowhow, that’s a compelling offering.”