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Transitioning IT Careers: How (and Where) to Stand Out Right Now

While transitioning careers is never easy, applicants can take steps to make themselves a standout amongst their job competitors by adding that ‘plus.’ Also, keep an eye on cloud opps.

“The Great Resignation” is making headlines as people reevaluate their careers. People are abandoning unfulfilling jobs and seeking to redirect or transition careers to be not only more hirable but hirable by top-level companies. In this ever-evolving market, it means having more than superior technical knowledge. It means mastering soft skills and other key factors that make them an excellent choice for any employer.

Transitioning Careers

Twenty years ago, I was a nurse practitioner -- but I loved technology. Without experience or a degree, I set out to land an IT position. I spent $20,000 on multiple high-end professional certifications thinking this is what hiring managers wanted. I was wrong. No one offered me a position. Launching a tech career required more than a certification.

Adept at asking questions and researching, I started asking recruiters to describe the “perfect hire.” Next, I performed a gap analysis between my current skill set and that “perfect hire” and I filled in the gaps. The result: I was hired on my first interview.

With the market rapidly changing and the pandemic stoking fires of inspiration for people to consider new career paths, potential employees need to make themselves attractive amongst thousands of applicants. The first step when changing careers to an IT role is bridging the gap between your old position and the one you are aiming for. How did your old job prepare you for this new job? Leverage your experience. Give the hiring manager a reason to take a chance on you. You are competing against more experienced individuals. One cannot compete on tech alone; they need something else, a “plus.” That plus is related to attitude, likeability, communication skills, soft skills, and emotional intelligence. The more complete the package, the more likely a hiring manager will look past a lack of experience.

You Are the Brand

When building a technology career, the key to success is having a solid professional brand. Expertise is a crucial part of developing the perfect brand and demonstrates you have more to offer. This expertise can be a specific technology, such as networking, or a particular field, such as healthcare. There are other components of an excellent personal brand that include:

  • Strong technical competency
  • High levels of emotional intelligence
  • Integrity
  • Leadership ability
  • Communication skills
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Substantial business acumen

A known expert with a strong brand easily competes against an applicant with a less focused skillset. Understand you cannot know everything and attempting to learn it all results in surface-level knowledge great for a hobbyist but not a professional. You must be competent with a deep level of knowledge in a focused area.

There comes a point where the ROI from technical training offers no additional improvement in terms of salary or promotability. If a person desires further career advancement, the focus must shift to soft skills, business acumen, emotional intelligence, management skills, presentation skills, executive presence, and communication skills. These skills are that “plus” to make significant improvements in someone's career.

Cloud is Hot

Cloud computing is one of the most rapidly growing IT fields and, currently, cloud architects are one of the highest-paying and most in-demand tech careers. Thousands of positions are available worldwide, and almost no one is qualified for the role.

Why are these roles so hard to fill? For one, they are hybrid roles. The cloud architect must be both a tech professional and an executive simultaneously. Hard-to-find skills but a virtual guarantee of an incredible career with them. Focusing on only the technology side of these roles can lead to a frustrating cycle of applying and failing to get hired.

Cloud computing continuously evolves and becomes increasingly complicated as it develops. Everything related to cloud computing, from servers to platforms, delivery, and storage, is the responsibility of cloud architects. Millions worldwide rely on cloud systems functioning without interruption. Organizations prefer cloud computing because of its flexibility, agility, and minimal up-front costs. Given these competitive advantages, organizations have been migrating their traditional data centers and networks to the cloud. COVID-19 sped up that transition largely based on remote management capabilities. The cloud architect designs these systems to help businesses improve their financial performance. Consequently, organizations are willing to pay a hefty price for the cloud architects who design solutions.

Common Career Transition Mistakes

The cloud architect is a business transformation specialist helping to optimize the business with cloud technologies. To be effective, the cloud architect must know the business and how to design cloud solutions. However, prospective cloud architects often get waylaid into learning maintenance (SysOps), Programming, Software Automation (DevOps), and many other positions. They have every skill but the ones needed. Train for the job you want, not someone else's career.

Transitioning Careers Successfully

Now maybe one of the best times in our lives to begin a great career in technology. There are an incredible number of open, high-paying, great cloud computing jobs. So fine tune your technical competency, solidify your professional brand and offer that “plus.” Marrying these ideas enables a jobseeker to create the "total package" and confidently pivot to a new career.