Navigating an IT Career Shift

Keeping up with a tech career path can be a full-time job. From the push to automate, to cool new tools, to moving from on-premise to cloud, it’s a scramble to keep up. Sometimes, keeping your stack modern requires a career change. In this, you’re not alone.

The latest data shows that half of the American workforce is planning on changing their job this year. Pew Research says one in every five is switching careers. If you’re considering an IT career shift, it’s normal to be nervous about it. Perhaps you’ve been in your role for a long time and know that to make more money or use the newest tool, you have to leave. This article will help you make that move.

Don’t Wait Until You Need a Tech Job to Start Looking for One

Here’s the truth that most IT job recruiters will tell you: There’s never been a better time for an IT career change. Last year, there were half a million open IT jobs in this country. New college graduates are making $120,000 in their first job, according to Carnegie Mellon University. Forbes says, “When it comes to hiring top-tier technical talent, big tech companies are not messing around. They are recruiting hard and writing checks.”

If you want to cash in on using your experience to find a new role, the other reality to consider is the old saying that it’s easier to find a job when you have a job. While we know programmers and engineers hate the drama of looking for a job, you should not wait until you have to look for work. Instead, a proactive approach toward meeting your IT career goals will help you get ahead in the long run. But what are those goals? And where should you start on the next phase of your tech career path?

Be Clear on Your IT Career Goals

The first step toward any IT career change is some soul searching about your IT goals. Why are you leaving your current job? Some of the typical reasons that facilitate an IT career move include:

  • You’re no longer challenged in the job.
  • You’re worried your skills aren’t staying modern enough.
  • You have your eyes on another skillset that you’d like to learn.
  • There’s a problem with your current environment.
  • You believe you’re under-compensated.
  • You’re burnt out and want to try something new.
  • The job has changed into something you don’t enjoy.

Once you’ve figured out the why behind your desire to move on down your tech career path to make an IT career change, there are a few things you can do proactively to facilitate the transition. This includes:

  • Identifying and addressing the skills you have—and the skills you want.
  • Knowing your budget and determining whether a temporary step backward is something you could withstand.
  • Keeping your resume and LinkedIn up to date.
  • Considering IT contracting to build your skills.
  • Leveraging tech recruiters for a faster IT career change.

Let’s address these action steps specifically to help get you started.

Identify and Address Skill Gaps

If the goal for your IT career change is to take on a new job to broaden your skills, you may need to address some skill gaps before you get the new job. Seeking a certification while you’re working in your current job is not only admirable it is a necessary step toward growth on your tech career path. That certification may be what’s standing between stagnation in your current role and pursuit of better learning opportunities. From Code Academy, Udemy, and more, there are literally dozens of free and pay-to-play classes out there. You could also consider freelancing on the side to build your skills or volunteer for your favorite non-profit. Find ways to learn and practice your skills and address any gaps that could be holding you back from the job you want to pursue.

Understand Whether a Temporary Step Backward May Be Necessary

We see this all the time with senior developers in enterprise organizations. They’ve been in their organization for a decade, and they’re making great money. But the stack hasn’t modernized and they feel stuck, knowing that the rest of the world is passing them by. What keeps them there? They’ve climbed the pay scale till they’re making a very high income. Despite feeling no passion for the job, they feel mired in place due to the paycheck.

There are a few remedies to this situation. First, to set aside as much cash as possible before seeking out an IT career change. That way, finding a new job is less dependent on money; there are savings as a cushion. The other step, when worried about going backward in salary during an IT job jump, is to know that it may be a temporary setback to provide the skills needed to go in a different direction. Too, if the developer is in a large organization, there are often educational benefits. Take advantage of whatever possible before pursuing your new IT career goals.

Keep Your Resume and LinkedIn Updated

To reach your IT career goals, you have to do the work. Some of the work is tedious, such as updating your resume. You can start your update process by making a list of all the languages, skills, formats, projects, environments, and more, that you’ve come in contact with. Before you start rewriting your resume, however, you need to reverse engineer it. What does this mean?

If you’re making an IT career change, you have an idea of the kind of job you’re looking for. To reverse engineer your resume, go to your favorite job board and pick out three or four jobs that look promising. Now try to write your new resume for the job you want, instead of the skills you have. Pay particular attention to the keywords that come up consistently between these ads and try to work as many of them into your new resume as you can. Also, note that soft skills are just as important as hard skills these days. Try to work in soft skills along with your hard IT knowledge. Rely heavily on bullets with clean sentences that show action and result. Finally, if you’re an architect or engineer, list a technology summary. That way you’ll be discovered if a recruiter is searching for developers with a particular language skill.

Once your resume is up to date, you’ll need to update your LinkedIn profile, too. Recruiters spend all day searching on this platform. So, take the time to move the data from your new resume to your LinkedIn profile. Then add a professional headshot. It’s also important to ask the people in your network for a reference, which is easy for them to add once you’ve asked.

Last but not least, slide your status to “open to work.”

Consider Leveraging IT Contracting to Build Your Resume

IT contracting is a viable way to build skills and check out the company culture. CIO magazine says companies are increasingly tapping into IT contractors to fill gaps they can’t fill on their full-time teams. They quoted a CIO who says he’s found IT contractors, “are more interested in having engaging jobs and learning new skills to build their resumes than landing long-term positions.” Currently, close to 40% of companies outsource at least some of their IT to paid contractors. One benefit for these contractors is the pay. IT contractors pull in around $25,000 more annually than in-house full-time workers in the same or similar position. Of course, you may forego benefits, but most staffing agencies that sponsor these contract positions also offer some of the same benefits as full-time employers. Beyond the higher ways, the benefit for an IT contractor is that you can often get into positions where you can learn new skills at the cutting edge of technology. Innovative startup organizations often hire contract workers based on investor funding they’ve received. This is an incredible opportunity to create groundbreaking software that can modernize your skills.

Keep In Touch with Tech Job Recruiters

Tech job recruiters are the hidden resource when pursuing your IT career goals. IT job recruiters have two clients: the business hiring talent and the talent themselves. However, it is the company that pays the fees for the tech job recruiter and this opens the door for a very beneficial but low-cost networking relationship for IT talent. IT job recruiters work with top name companies as well as innovative startup businesses. It’s these connections that you’re trying to mine. If you interview with a tech job recruiter and they like you, they will take your resume out to multiple employers and pitch your skills. You can sit back and concentrate on conducting the best interview possible. It’s an easy way to double your reach when making an IT career change.

Are You Ready to Make a Change in Your IT Career?

Your trip down a new tech career path starts with the IT job recruiters at Prosum. We’re proud of our technical knowledge and our work with U.S. top employers. Our IT staffing agency has offices in Denver, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Find out why IT engineers choose Prosum IT job recruiters over other staffing firms. Contact us today. We can help you make a successful IT career change.