Breaking into tech is not easy – and being a woman doesn’t make it any easier. There are a plenty of roadblocks on the way including a hyper competitive culture, unconscious biases and a strong boys club culture.
The great news, however, is that quite a few women have succeeded breaking into tech lately. They had the passion, knowledge and patience to push forward and now they are doing what they love.
If this is truly your passion, here are some of the things that you can do to break into tech.
When it comes to breaking into tech, being different is always welcome. To do this, you’ll need to get creative and think about the future of IT. Trends that are popular now may not be so popular in the future. Talk to some experts, read as much as you can, watch technology shows and listen to tech podcasts to find out what’s the next trend. Reflect on it and see if you can envision what that future looks like. That will help you be a step or two ahead of the competition.
Differentiating yourself can also mean that you have your own, specific niche. This is a good strategy because you’ll become an expert in that niche. As an expert, you’re likely to have a much easier time breaking into tech.
Another thing you could do is look for companies where you could present your skills, point of view or your background in a new and unique way. In a way that could benefit the company’s short or long term objectives. This will require gathering insights into your target company to come up with the right pitch on why they’d benefit by hiring you.
2Write compelling resume and cover letter
You resume and cover letter to the organization you’re applying to are both extremely important for breaking into tech. Your resume should look good and you should take the time to customize it to each specific job. Cover letters are a bit more complex as they require more familiarity with the company to address exactly what they are looking for.
Don’t write about yourself too much. Instead, write about how you can help the company and what you can do for them.
That being said, cover letters and resumes need to be perfect. They have to display your best skills, virtues and highlight all of the ways that you can help that company. This is essential for breaking into tech. Check out any online platforms like State of Writing and Ukwritings that offer resume and cover letter writing services.
Don’t miss Susan Landon’s expert advice on how to write your resume particularly if you’re a woman.
3Identify right mentors and sponsors to help you break into tech
You know how important mentors and sponsors are for your career advancement, right? Well, to break into tech they become even more so. Being such a highly competitive, male dominated industry, you need to have people in your corner to help you understand the unwritten rules of the industry or the particular company you seek to work for. You may have several mentors of all different backgrounds as long as they are well established professionals in the tech industry.
People who can make the right introductions to those who have decision-making roles and to those who can offer great assignments. Start by joining professional organizations and attending industry conferences to expand your network. Establish connections on Linkedin, seek out informal interviews to learn as much as you can about your field of interest or the company of your dreams.
Once you break into tech, continue developing mentorship relationships and actively seek sponsors, those high level executives who can open the best opportunities for you.
4Breaking into tech takes a lot of networking
Most job opportunities come about through networking. Often the people who get the jobs in tech are men because they are in the network of the men making the decisions. So, as I was mentioning in the previous point, if you want to break into tech, you’ll have to expand your network to include a lot of the professionals who are already in the field, which happen to be men. Make sure to get introductions to decision-makers through your Linkedin contacts and by attending conferences and events where you can meet new people.
Maria Dingess, an HR Consultant at Academized explains: “You can’t just sit at home and wait for the job to come to you. You have to find connections, make acquaintances, meet different people that can help you achieve your goals. Attend seminars, webinars, visit forums or platforms where people from the tech industry gather – be present.”
You’ll break into tech much easier if your name is somewhat familiar to the company to which you’re applying.
5Keep improving your skills. Something that was the norm two years ago may be old fashioned and forgotten by now. Just think about how much the technology has changed in the past decade, year after year.
Don’t stop learning after you are done with your formal education. To break into tech, you’ll have to keep learning and improving your skills every day. It’s a growing industry, changing daily and you need to be flexible and keep up with that.
There are plenty of online courses, platforms, websites, seminars, webinars and other methods of learning that you can use to expand your knowledge. If you have a strong basis, it shouldn’t be that hard.
Check out our latest interview on Diversity in Science: Making a Difference on Aging Brain Research
6Work on projects that you find interesting
A lot of people settle for work that they find boring. They keep grinding and getting through the day. The result of this is visible in the projects that they create – projects that are bland and just as boring as they think their work is.
“Don’t end up being that person. Your life will be so much better if you work on projects that you find interesting, challenging and fun. Breaking into tech as a woman will take a lot more than just a few bad projects. You have to show your passion through your work – show them how great you are and how good your ideas are”, – says Renee Prather, a Recruiting Manager at Paperfellows and Studydemic writer.
Don’t settle for anything you find less than exciting and challenging.
7Don’t give up on breaking into tech
Maybe you’ve already been rejected a few times and after your latest rejection all that you want to do is go home, sleep and forget about it. Maybe those rejections have broken your spirit a little bit.
If that’s the case, do go home, relax and rest. Allow yourself some time to decompress, engage in activities that are energizing and inspiring to you. But limit the “break” time that follows any setback and quickly get back in the game. You should never give up on your passions. If you truly love tech and you want to work and create in this space, giving up is not an option for you.
Read inspirational quotes, read about women who have succeeded breaking into tech, watch motivational videos – anything to get you going.
Breaking into tech as a woman is a challenge. It takes a lot of hard work, overcoming unconscious bias and rejection. But if you are truly passionate about tech and you care about producing quality products or services for consumers, don’t let anything break you. Keep trying because once you do, the feeling of accomplishment will be amazing. Believe in yourself, your ideas, your skills and your knowledge. People appreciate confidence and stamina. Most importantly, remember to enjoy your work and have fun creating.