4 Steps to Get a Job In Tech with No Experience
I wanted to write this because I’m from Alberta, Canada and with WTI at ~$40/ barrel since January I’ve naturally heard a lot of complaining about employment opportunities. I also believe there are a ton of incredible opportunities in sales and specifically entry level sales jobs right now. In my opinion should be easy for anyone willing to put in some work to get a job in tech with no experience. Especially in sales. It’s an amazing overlap if you have a passion for the industry but don’t have the technical skills yet. On top of that, the trend from social to enterprise apps is in full swing. As the enterprise continues to modernize their businesses there will continue to be huge opportunities on the biz dev/sales side at all the big software companies.
So first things first, people who tell you that you’d be lucky to find any job have the wrong perspective on things. Don’t listen to them. If you’re looking for a job where you can float and punch a clock then you might be in trouble. But commit to improving your skills and using those to impact a business for the better and you’ll have no problem.
4 Steps to Get a Job In Tech with No Experience
1. Change your perspective.
Repeat after me, “It’s easy to get a job in tech with no experience”. Seriously, keep repeating it. Affirmations work. No matter what your situation don’t go looking for a job with the mindset that you’ll take anything just for money. This is especially important if it’s your first job coming out of school. It’s worth the struggle early in your career for the opportunities you’ll have later. Look for the job based on the learning opportunities.
Is your direct manager someone you look up to in the industry?
Will there be mentors available who can help you learn the ropes?
Does the company invest in training programs for it’s sales reps?
Is there a clear path of advancement for overachieving reps?
These are all questions you should be asking to qualify the company even if you are looking for a job with no experience. Do not just sit there praying that they will offer you a job. You have a lot more leverage as a young recruit than you think. Growing companies need young ambitious people to consistently join their team. Who else is going to keep the energy up, foster new ideas, get moulded into future managers, etc.? Another way to think about it is if you were doing the hiring would you want someone who feels sorry for themselves because they have no experience? OR someone who is optimistic and excited about supporting your ideas and achieve your goals for the company?
2. Work on Your Skills
Commit to this new mindset of working towards the best version of yourself as you can. The job experience and resources of an established company will just get you there faster. Some of you may go straight into entrepreneurship or freelancing, either is great, but the goal should still be the same.
All of the successful people I’ve talked to and read about, plan out the skills they want to master first. Then reverse engineer the specific sub-skills they will have to practice to become the best in their field.
Whatever it is you want to be the best at focus on mastering the basics for longer than would seem reasonable to anyone. Even if you are yet to find your first job in tech there is a lot you can do. Try cold call companies pretending to sell a product. Become an expert at demo’ing the apps you use everyday to your family members. Practice sourcing leads and growing an online presence for a local business you know. These are all directly transferable skills and by practicing them you will be much further along than others leaning their degrees.
3. Track Your Progress
From day 1 in your career you need to take responsibility for your own progress. Some companies won’t make it clear what the expectations or quota is that you’re responsible for (hopefully not one of the ones you decided to work for but it happens).
Set your own goals and make consistent notes about your progress. Even if you aren’t making this information public I guarantee it will come in handy down the road. Whether it be to negotiate a new contract, to help you find a new job or to reference when starting your own business the more information you have the better.
Have someone hold you accountable to the goals you have set and give yourself personal rewards for hitting them. The commission can be great but there is nothing more rewarding than hitting the goals that you have set for yourself.
4. Consider the Industry
This could be the most important point. If you’ve followed all the other steps you’ll have no problem finding a job. But the point is this is your first kick at the can, you want to build a career based on your experiences with this company. It does matter what company you pick. So please don’t make a quick decision based on the salary or stock options etc.
You will likely spend the next 20 years working for similar customers. Think about it, you will end up spending a lot of time talking to these people. You will learn about their businesses, hear about their problems. Find out how they came up with solutions, what other things they’ve tried at and failed. That knowledge is where the invaluable experience is born and it’s a hard thing to give up when you are finding your next gig.
Let’s say you decided to take a sales job in the oil field but your passion was actually in cars or even construction. You end up learning all about oil companies while you’re selling to them, you probably make a lot of money. Then oil prices fall and you figure this is a good time to work in an industry that you actually care about. When you go looking for that sales job sure you may have built some tactical skills but your network and industry knowledge has almost no overlap.
The other thing to consider about industry is the size of companies you are selling to. There is a big difference selling an enterprise focused product into the c-suite and a time tracking app to field employees.
Ultimately the job you take should align with your own personal goals. If you’re going into sales I’d suggest starting with a company selling a product that is fairly expensive but has a reasonably short buying cycle. This way you can learn to deal with price objections and have short feedback loops. You should be closing deals fairly quickly, once you get into a quota carrying role anyway.
Lastly, pick the company then find a way to get a job there. If you have the right reasons for wanting to work there you’ll find a way. See, finding tech job with no experience isn’t that hard. I would challenge you to no matter how un prepared you feel you are send one email to a person that could help you move towards the role you’re looking for today.
originally published 09/17/2015