If you’re considering a career in tech without industry experience, odds are you’ve questioned your ability to be successful–but have you considered those professional skills that aren’t tech-based? Technical knowledge and proficiency aren’t the only sought after characteristics, and while they help you meet job criteria, soft skills are what will get you hired.
Don’t under-appreciate your soft skills when considering switching into a tech career--Lean into them to gain the confidence to make a change. Here are five soft skills to focus on that lend themselves to the tech industry.
How you communicate in writing and in-person says a lot about you. Whether you’re in a new industry or a pro in your space, the ability to communicate clearly, politely, and collaboratively will always help demonstrate your interpersonal aptitude. Immersing yourself with other students during a bootcamp course requires you to share ideas and problem-solve. Starting a new job requires communicating clearly when asking for guidance or support.
Communicating effectively also helps build trust. When trust is built between parties, communication flows and relationships are formed. Thinkful Academic Success Manager, Ashley Murry, tells students “... that people hire people they want to eat lunch with...When hiring teams are deciding between two people with killer portfolios and solid tech skills, they are going to choose the person who they like and trust more.”
Creative thinking is a method of problem-solving every industry needs. Techies around the world are routinely presented with problems that require a fresh perspective to strategize solutions. One creative thinking exercise that can provide a fresh perspective on your abilities is making a list of three things you’re good at, professionally and personally. You can use this list to remind of your strengths during the emotional experiences of self-directed learning and career-changing.
Thinkful Career Coach, Amber Arnold, also suggests expanding your tech vocabulary to ensure your creative thinking is being demonstrated. For example, if keywords like collaboration, or technical interview make you feel nervous, try looking at them with a fresh perspective. Collaboration just means giving and receiving feedback, and technical interview simply means skills-based interview. She also advises to avoid using words like “never” or “have not”, and suggests reframing to include “have” and “am familiar with”.
Of tremendous value in the tech industry is the ability to build relationships. You can brush up on this soft skill by attending virtual networking events and getting familiar with online chatting. You’re not just building a network, you're building a group of people who can be a champion on the inside––and potentially offer job-winning referrals. These relationships can also help you define a technical skills roadmap for your future.
Another endless opportunity for relationship building is LinkedIn. Spend some time searching and messaging others in the tech field to connect with. Thinkful Academic Success Manager, Ashley Murry, advises “students should find people who work on the tech teams at their target companies and then send them thoughtful, authentic cold outreach messages. They can ask questions like,
"How'd you get your job?" "What kind of projects are you working on?" "What was the transition like from [previous industry]?".
Creating a strong narrative out of your professional experiences and skills demonstrates pride in where you’ve been and can reflect your true personality. Feeling nervous is natural, so curb those feelings by outlining where you’ve been and all the skills you’ve honed along the way. Your authentic story is unique, showcase it!
Thinkful Academic Success Manager, Ashley Murry, points out:
“career changers hesitate to highlight their nontraditional career paths, but they shouldn't. They bring unique perspectives to tech teams. Being able to articulate your unique perspective, explain your "why" and tell your story will set you apart from other candidates.”
More than anything the skill of persistence will ensure you are successful in the tech industry. If you have a passion for lifelong learning, a dedication to your craft will shine through brightly to any employer. Thinkful Web Developer grad, Ivy Rueb, now a Thinkful Community Manager, recalls her transition into tech: “Employers look for passion and a willingness to learn versus someone with full technical skills who is unwilling to apply themselves. During interviews, there was a strong focus on [my] previous background because the technical skills were the icing on the cake.”
Technical expertise can be learned and skills-based exams can be passed, but showcasing these soft skills will help guide you through the experience of online learning and through your first career, second, and third technical job. Tap into alumni success secrets from three unique Thinkful grads that stood out from the crowd and got hired at their dream jobs.