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Career Development

10 Steps to Break Into Tech – Real Stories from Real People (UK Edition)

General Assembly
May 3, 2024

Getting into tech doesn’t have to be complicated. Nowadays, it’s common for people to change careers even if you don’t have a university degree. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly common for career changers to do online courses, part-time classes, or bootcamps to pivot into a new career.

Despite Brexit and the pandemic, UK’s tech industry is booming. According to last year’s Tech Nation Report, the number of unique tech jobs advertised in the UK outweighed that of other European countries by 259% on average.

UK employers are always looking for new tech talent — keep reading to discover our top 10 tips to break into tech without a university degree.

Tip #1: Your Transferable Skills are a Gold Mine

You’ve probably heard about transferable skills as someone looking to change careers. But what are transferable skills, and which are the most important?

To break it down, transferable skills are the soft skills you learn throughout your time in education and industry. Transferable skills are critical for enabling you to succeed in your job, whatever it may be. Additionally, people improve their transferable skills as they gain more experience.

What key transferable skills are tech employers looking for in 2022? Here are the top six transferable skills that will make your CV stand out:

  • Adaptability and Resilience
  • Critical Thinking 
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication

Tip #2: No Degree, No Problem

University degrees are no longer a deal barker when applying for your dream job. According to UK Recruiter, the requirement for a university degree in a job has significantly decreased since 2018. Better yet, employers looking to hire tech talent are now looking for candidates with excellent skills, experience, and a willingness to learn.

This skills-based hiring revolution gives career changers the confidence and opportunity to compete with post-grads. In addition, online courses and bootcamps offer career changers the opportunity to pivot into tech without prior experience.

At GA, we offer a broad spectrum of tech courses, including data analytics, data science, software engineering, coding, digital marketing, and product management! Our courses mold around your busy schedule regardless of where you are in your life. We offer full-time immersive, flex immersive, part-time immersive workshops, and bootcamps.

Tip #3: A Mix of Tech Career Opportunities

Due to the rise of entrepreneurship in tech, there has been a significant increase in the demand for various talents. A common misconception is that a career in tech means just coding or engineering. Of course, both fields are in demand, but other tech careers are also out there. Here’s a list of the top 5 most in-demand UK tech jobs in 2022:

PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

Job Role: The primary responsibilities of a product manager include market and competitor research, data analysis, some UX and UI design, collaboration, some basic coding using SQL, and some graphic design work using Figma. For career changers, product management is a great way to pivot into the tech world because product management is one of the roles that most values your transferable skills.

Skills Required: Figma, SQL, Data Analysis, UX, UI, Communication, Problem Solving, Google Analytics, Market Research.

Average UK salary: (according to Glassdoor)

  • UK: Ranges from £38,000 to £88,000 per year.

If you’re interested in product management, check out our part-time product management immersive and request your syllabus today.

UX DESIGN

Job Role: As a UX (user experience) designer, your key responsibilities are centered around enhancing end-user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and enjoyment associated with a product. Other tasks include consulting with clients and stakeholders to understand their goals, user research, conducting usability testing, creating wireframes, storyboards, sitemaps, screen flows, and building product prototypes.

Skills Required: Figma, InVision, Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, UserTesting, Axure, Visual Communication, Collaboration, Presentation.

Average UK salary: (according to Glassdoor)

  • UK: Ranges from £38,000 to £63,000 per year.

Are you interested? That’s awesome. At GA, we offer a full-time and part-time user experience immersive. Visit our website to learn more.

DIGITAL MARKETING

Job Role: As a digital marketer, you are responsible for developing and implementing strategies that promote the company or brand’s products. If you are a digital marketing associate, you will support the manager on social media management, content strategy development and management, email marketing, and much more. As a digital marketer in tech, you will work closely with the product growth and design teams.

Skills Required: SEO (search engine optimization), Google Analytics, Atlassian Tool Stack (Jira, Confluence, Airtable), Content Marketing, Data Analytics, Critical & Creative Thinking.

Average UK salary: (according to Glassdoor)

  • UK: Ranges from £23,000 to £61,000 per year.

To kick-start your digital marketing career, take a look at our website to learn more about the different digital marketing immersive we offer.

DATA ANALYTICS

Job Role: Data analysis involves answering questions generated for better business decision-making. Data analysts use existing information to uncover actionable data and focus on specific areas with specific goals. A data analyst’s primary responsibilities include managing master data, including creation, updates, and dashboard upkeep, developing reports and analysis, support the data warehouse in identifying and revising reporting requirements.

Skills Required: Data Visualization, Data Cleaning, Python, SQL, Microsoft Excel, Critical Thinking, Communication.

Average UK salary: (according to Glassdoor)

  • UK: Ranges from £20,000 to £44,000 per year.

At GA, we offer many options for our data analytics immersive. From full-time, part-time, flex, and even our on-demand learning. Check out our website for more information.

DATA SCIENCE 

Job Role: A data scientist’s primary responsibilities include strategy development (using data to determine probable outcomes to help companies develop appropriate business strategies), strategy verification (involves verifying or validating a strategy using computer programs to predict the long-term strategy effectiveness), and data modeling and development (design or build various data models that are customized to serve a business’s unique needs).

Skills Required: R, Python, JavaScript (Programming Languages), Database Creation and Management, Data Processing, Data Visualization, Statistics, Data Acquisition, and Cleaning.

Average UK salary: (according to Glassdoor)

  • UK: Ranges from £34,000 to £65,000 per year.

If you’re interested in a data science career, but don’t know where to start, check out our data science immersive, and request your syllabus today.

Tip #4: WOW Employers with Your Portfolio

For career changers, building a solid portfolio is a must. It’s one of the few ways to showcase your skills, knowledge, and experience. Portfolios are also crucial for developing your personal brand and grabbing the attention of recruiters and employers.

You may be wondering what’s the best way to approach building your tech portfolio. Here are some handy tips and tricks to get you started.

  1. First, you need to decide if you will build your portfolio from scratch or use a template. Both are great options, depending on what you are more comfortable with. For example, you can design your own portfolio if you have experience using JavaScript, Python, Ruby and other languages. On the other hand, you can also choose from pre-made templates using sites like HTML5 UP, Template.net, and website building tools like Squarespace.
  2. Don’t overcomplicate things. Your portfolio doesn’t have to be interactive; it can be as simple as a pdf link on your CV. A well-designed and concise PDF is just as good as a website portfolio.
  3. Showcase three to five strong case studies/projects you worked on. Recruiters and hiring managers want to see real-world case studies/projects in your portfolio to get an inside scoop into your problem-solving and critical thinking capabilities.
  4. If you’ve worked on a team project, you must clearly show your contribution, thinking processes, and ideation. Draft up key takeaways from your learning experience of working on a team and what you can improve on next time.
  5. Make sure you add your sketches, prototypes, wireframes, and breakdown of any end-user research. Portfolios are meant to be more visual than text-heavy, so it’s vital to include as many applicable visual assets as possible.
  6. Always summarize and highlight your key findings. During the early stages of your recruitment process, hiring managers only skim through your portfolio. You want to make sure they can access key information instantly.
  7. Try to make the overall design of your portfolio cohesive with your rèsume. To make your portfolio stand out, try out some design templates to keep everything on brand.

Tip #5: Rebrand Your LinkedIn Profile

Similar to your portfolio, your LinkedIn profile is the foundation for your personal branding. LinkedIn is an excellent tool for career changers to elevate their new skills and knowledge. New features are frequently added to the professional networking site to best showcase your profile. Here are seven profile features you should update in 2022 to create an outstanding LinkedIn profile.

  1. Add a background photo. One of the easiest and quickest updates but can have some of the most significant effects on recruiters and hiring managers. In a world of over 830 million LinkedIn profiles, you want yours to stand out, period. Background photos are one way to make your profile memorable.
  2. Don’t overcomplicate your summary. Keep your summary short and sweet. remember to add a personal touch while remaining professional and showcasing your top skills.
  3. Add the endorsement section. Endorsement is a feature you can add to your profile. It allows the people you have worked with before to endorse you for your skills; it’s a great way to validate your skillset to recruiters. 
  4. Request recommendations. Endorsements are a quick way for recruiters to notice the skills you are valued for, but recommendations take things a step further. When requesting a new recommendation, remember to let the person know what skills of yours they should write about. This is particularly important for career changers who want to highlight new skills.
  5. Add your course certifications to your profile. As a career changer, sharing any new accreditations you earn is essential. LinkedIn has a dedicated “licenses & certifications” section that you can use to feature and share your achievements.
  6. Add your portfolio to your featured section. Your LinkedIn profile should be a digital version of your print CV. As someone looking to get into tech, remember to add your portfolio to the “featured” section on your LinkedIn. The featured section is immediately under your bio, and it’s a great segway to support your bio.
  7. Set your profile to “#opentowork.” One of the newest features on LinkedIn allows users to officially open their profile to new job opportunities and alert recruiters that you are looking. The “open to work” feature allows you to do so discreetly if you wish, or if you don’t mind letting your current boss know you are open to new opportunities, you can add the #opentowork filter to your profile picture.

Tip #6: Start Networking

Whether you prefer attending online or in-person events, networking is a great way to build meaningful connections within the tech industry. Many of our alumni still rely on the connections they’ve made during their time with us. Our instructors are experts in their field and can introduce you to other alumni, course cohorts, recruiters, hiring managers, and companies. After all, according to a HubSpot survey, a massive 85% of jobs are filled through networking opportunities.

Tip #7: Go Back to Your Intern Days

It may not sound glamorous but taking on a tech internship is one of the better ways to get your foot in the door. Here are three simple steps to land your first tech internship:

  1. Get a referral. Referrals are the single best way to land internship interviews. Do you have any friends, family, Bootcamp friends, instructors etc. who are working in tech? Ask them to refer you. Approximately 20-50% of referred applications get hired so it’s worth a try.
  2. Attend career fairs. One of the best ways to get in front of recruiters is to attend career fairs. Whether online or in-person, leave your CV and portfolio with the companies you’d love to work for.
  3. Online applications. The most obvious way to land your dream internship is to go to the company website and fill out an application form. Most companies advertise internships on LinkedIn and on their website. Shoot your shot. You won’t know until you try.

Tip #8: Start Freelancing

Changing careers can be scary. However, it shouldn’t have to be a considerable risk. When changing careers, you should lay out a clear strategy to ensure you can still finance yourself and any dependents. Freelancing is one of the better ways to break into tech without completely throwing your old job out the window.

With freelancing, you can take on a flexible amount of work during the week to commit to your new career. Using project work like this is also a great strategy to test your interest in tech while gaining valuable experience.

Tip #9: Brush up on Your Interview Skills

Interviews come hand in hand with a career change. If part of your career change strategy is to join a Bootcamp or immersive, we recommend one that offers interview support. At GA, during our immersive, you can actively work with a career coach on your CV and interview skills. Post-graduation, you can continue to work with your career coach until you get hired.

One of the best ways to improve your interview skills is to go through multiple mock interviews. Practice makes perfect, and there is nothing better than practicing with friends from your course, career coaches, and mentors.

Tip #10: It’s Never Too Late to Change Careers

With everything in mind, it’s also important to note that it’s never too late for a career change. Many of our GA alumni joined our immersive mid their previous careers and never looked back. During this exciting time, it’s important to have a great support system.

Whether that’s your career coach, friends inside and outside of your course, f or family, we always need someone to cheer for us in the background. Changing careers is never easy, but you can achieve anything with the right support, education, and hard work.

To discover the tech career that best suits you all without a university degree, download our “Landing Work You Love” ebook.

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