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Breaking into Tech: Tips for Women

September 20, 2023

The growing tech talent gap isn’t a secret. The space is hurting for tech talent.

The conversation about filling the STEM gap has existed for nearly a decade now. While progress has been made over the years, there is still more work to be done.

An Indeed study reports that 86% of hiring managers find it challenging to find and hire skilled technical professionals.

Compounding the labor shortage, the tech industry remains widely dominated by men. Nationally, women only represent 26% of the tech workforce. Black and Latinx women are even more underrepresented, comprising only 8% and 7% of tech occupations respectively.

Source: Cyberstates 2021, CompTIA

The lack of equity across the tech workforce threatens the share of voice among women in vital tech conversations that shape our near future. It also poses an issue for organizations looking to maintain their competitive edge.

Diverse work environments encourage diversity of thought across an organization, empowering problem-solving, innovation and increased revenue. Companies without gender diversity limit their potential to outperform their peers.

Now, more than ever, women tech professionals are in high demand. For those new to the field or with little experience, breaking into the domain can be challenging.

Here are four tips to landing an entry-level tech job without traditional experience.

It’s important not to make the common mistake of diving into a tech career for the sake of salary. To have a sustainable career as a woman in tech, candidates must do their homework to identify the career niche they want to pursue.

Starting a new career in any field requires research and planning. Those eager to jumpstart their journey in tech should set out to discover which industries and roles are right for them.

Job seekers should read blogs, articles, magazines and industry reports to learn about the tech areas that interest them. You can also follow podcasts, online influencers and publications to stay aware of the current challenges and career opportunities in tech.

Internships and shadowing opportunities are additional ways to learn first-hand what sectors and occupations actually entail. They also can help you determine whether a role is the best fit for you. These opportunities often serve as a springboard or leg-in to full-time positions.

Doing basic reconnaissance and job research will only help you decide the appropriate steps to begin your job search.

Networking remains one of the best ways to job search. Many jobs positions in the tech industry go unposted on websites.

It’s vital today to network and build connections with peers, leaders and veterans in tech. Attending meetups and conferences is an easy way to put yourself in the right spaces with the right people.

Connecting with other like-minded people is another way to remain updated and aware of the skills you need to pursue your desired tech career. Meeting new people can open up doors to opportunities, including shadowing engagements and mentorships.

Networking can also help you learn from others about how companies operate and what technical and soft skills are needed to effectively further business goals. That’s why we can’t emphasize enough about the tech contacts you will make via networking.

Having someone in your corner at a company, whether as a referral or insider, will always make a tremendous difference in your job search. The simple fact remains true: the more you network, the better odds you have in securing a tech job.

A four-year degree isn’t the only path to a tech career. Many resources, educational platforms and training programs are easily accessible to help women learn new skills advantageous to securing a tech role.

Jobseekers should consider taking continuing education courses, like the ones we offer at Incredible Me! And the best part is that we offer them to our members for free. (Did we mention membership is free, too?)

Certifications are also an excellent way to get started in tech, expand your skills and prove that you’re competent to prospective employers.

Despite popular belief, certifications are standard in the tech industry. Many tech workers use them to validate specific skills and keep them updated on industry best practices.

Popular certifications in tech include:

  • Certified Scrum Master
  • Isaca Certifications
  • CompTIAA+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISM)

All occupations, regardless of required experiences, require some level of soft skills. Indeed reports that 58% of hiring managers feel that soft skills are the most important qualification.

Lucky for women looking to break into tech, transferable skills can help them get into the door.

When identifying transferable skills, candidates should research the soft skills their desired role requires. This can be pinpointed by reviewing several job descriptions for the position in question and outlining the details you can personally share similar, relevant experiences.

For instance, a candidate who has a teacher background may connect previous experience with training and development for a new tech role. The examples and options are endless, and they will vary by individual. It’s all about tailoring your experience and relatable skills to the desired job and description.

To get your mind buzzing, here are some in-demand soft skills in tech:

  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Analysis
  • Creativity
  • Project Management
  • Problem-solving

Those interested in tech can start working on projects to gain the experience required for successful employment.

Take a stab at learning how to build a website, app or program if you’re interested in computer sciences. You can also take on gigs to make money and try out different roles before committing to a career track.

Beginners can find small gigs on Craigslist that often require little to no experience. Once more seasoned after completing a few engagements, candidates can also try platforms like Upwork and Freelancer.com.

Here are a few common tech side gigs to consider:

  • Website maintenance
  • Tech support
  • User experience testing
  • Technical writing
  • Computer repair
  • Product owner

Any one of these paths will help you start building your portfolio today to help show future prospective employers your abilities, potential and passion.

Getting started in the tech industry as a woman can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have the tech experience upfront. However, don’t be intimidated. There are countless opportunities to learn, build connections and transition existing skills to start a rewarding tech career.

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