Many professionals work with one or more tech tools as they carry out their day-to-day tasks. Through that interaction, someone may discover they have an affinity for tech and become interested in making a lateral move into a technology role within their organization. The timing is right for that kind of change; as the competition for tech talent tightens, companies are increasingly opting to offer reskilling opportunities for their existing team members to fill open positions.
Still, making the transition can be challenging, particularly for those who don’t have a formal technology background, so it’s best to lay some solid groundwork before initiating a change. Below, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council offer their best tips for professionals thinking of switching their focus to technology. By following these expert strategies, you can position yourself for success and gain a competitive edge in this exciting and rapidly evolving field.
1. Talk Up Your Transferable Skills
There are so many transferable skills that you can bring to the table in a technology-focused role. Emphasize those in your conversations and your résumé because, ultimately, the tech is fluid and constantly changing—soft skills are universal and just as valuable for any role. – Robert Wood, Soft Side of Cyber (and CISO for CMS)
2. Brush Up On Salesforce
Learning Salesforce is a great choice for anyone looking to make a lateral move into a technology role. Many companies have made large investments in Salesforce, but many lack the resources to fully leverage them. You can go to salesforce.com to learn Salesforce for free using Trailhead, get hands-on experience and obtain certifications, and there are a lot of great opportunities for career growth or landing a new job. – Jon Jessup, 1440
3. Focus On Practical Skills And Hands-On Experience
If I had to choose just one tip, I would say to focus on practical skills and gaining hands-on experience with the technologies and tools used in your target role; you’ll be able to demonstrate your abilities and knowledge to potential employers and increase your chances of making a successful move into a technology role. – Charles Aunger, Health2047 – American Medical Association
4. Learn New Skills Through Certification Courses
To make a lateral move into a technology role, focus on building relevant technical skills through courses and certifications, network with others in the field, seek out mentors for guidance and support, and gain practical experience through hands-on projects or internships. – Satish Shetty, Codeproof Technologies Inc.
5. Leverage Your Business Experience To Add Value
It’s a huge value to technical teams when they can bring on someone with a background in business or sales and marketing. One of the biggest challenges in IT is the disconnect between the technology and the needs of the business. My advice would be to start in a business analyst or product owner role where you can lean on your business experience while learning the technology. – David Dozer, Cadynce
6. Expand Your Mentor Network And Leverage Online Resources
Boosting your tech background and expanding your mentor and advisor network to include technology and business leaders would make the transition easier. Depending on your existing skill set, leveraging online resources such as Coursera can provide a convenient way to get started. If there is continued interest and need, enrolling in a formal program, potentially part-time, may also make sense. – Rachel Lyubovitzky, Setuply, Inc.
7. Experiment With Tech First
Always test the waters before jumping in! Programming and other IT jobs are fascinating but challenging, and they’re not for everyone. Before you decide to change your life, give yourself a chance to try the new path: Read about it, follow some specific tech groups and try to write new code. Find out if it really is your world. – Robert Strzelecki, TenderHut
8. Master Your Current Role
Establish trust and earn credibility in your current role. Once you’re appreciated for what you do, the hop to the next step is much more attainable, since it’s only a matter of skills—and those can be taught. Turn your current work and craft into your biggest selling proposition. Do your research on what roles and teams might be a good fit. Then, find the person who will vouch for you. Good luck! – Maya Mandel, Helios
9. Make Sure You Know The Basics
One of the best tips I can give is to focus on learning and understanding the fundamentals. It’s easy to get caught up in flashy new technologies, but having an understanding of the basics—such as algorithms, data structures and design patterns—will serve you well throughout your career. – Sandro Shubladze, Datamam
10. Volunteer For Tech-Related Tasks
To make a lateral move into a technology role, build a foundational understanding of the team’s technology and tools, seek out mentors or colleagues, network in the field and gain hands-on experience through side projects or volunteering for tech-related tasks within your current role. – Andres Zunino, ZirconTech
11. Make Sure You’re All In
The first and most important rule—be excited about tech! If you’re not feeling the itch to open tech news first thing in the morning and see what’s new, if you don’t plan on spending hours every week learning about new areas of advancement, and if you’re not willing to have “fight-to-the-death” arguments with colleagues about the most advanced way of implementing a feature, then you’re not ready to move yet. – Ophir Katzir, senseIP
12. Contribute To Open-Source Projects
Focus on building a solid foundation in programming and data structures. Gain practical experience by contributing to open-source projects and taking the time to learn how the latest technology functions. Don’t be afraid to learn new technologies, as the tech industry is constantly evolving. Finally, find a mentor in the field to guide you and provide valuable insights and advice. – Bhanu Jagasia, bladestack.io
13. Have Confidence In Yourself (But Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help)
One piece of advice for business folks looking to make a lateral move into technology would be to be hungry for knowledge, ask for help and have confidence in yourself. Hybrid skills are very valuable, and coming from business, you will bring very unique value to tech teams, making you a more valuable asset to the firm and the industry. – Rajat Sharma, Zensar Technologies
14. Join Tech-Related LinkedIn Groups
A good starting point is to join LinkedIn groups within the new industry that you are interested in. This move will give you unmatched access to thought leaders, educational resources, mentors and partners. Moreover, it’s absolutely free, and engagement can be at the exact level that you want and need, without pressure to participate more than your time allows. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor
15. Learn A Programming Language
Focus on computer science by learning a programming language. Study algorithms and data structures, and gain knowledge of database systems, network design and cloud computing. Expand your education through online courses, participate in technical workshops and conferences, and network with industry technology professionals. Finally, demonstrate your skills by creating a portfolio of projects. – Cristian Randieri, Intellisystem Technologies