Entry-Level Tech Jobs: 8 Tips for Landing that All-Important First Position

entry-level tech jobs

As technology becomes more crucial in business operations, the demand for IT professionals is expected to grow steadily. Despite layoffs and economic uncertainties, the next few years should see a positive employment outlook for the tech workforce as organizations embrace new technologies and need qualified people to fill emerging IT positions.

At the beginning of 2023, the tech sector will account for 8.9 million jobs in the US, roughly 6% of the overall American workforce. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics sees that number growing by 15% from the present to 2031. As economies rise and ebb, the need for tech workers will remain constant.

It’s not only in the tech space that demand for workers has increased. Employers from different industries, including BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance), IT, pharmaceuticals, and semiconductor industries, are searching for software developers, data scientists, and other forms of IT talent to fill crucial roles.

However, breaking into the industry can be challenging for those still starting. The key, as in most verticals, is to target entry-level tech jobs that will allow you to start climbing the ladder – even if you have zero professional experience. These expert tips may give you a break you need to land that crucial first job and kickstart your tech career. 

Tip #1: Know where you want to go.

Tech is a big field. It’s wise to determine exactly where you hope to go with your career in tech. 

One good method is to examine your past experiences, interests, hobbies, and everything you’ve learned over the years and find entry-level tech jobs that correlate. For example, some possible crossover positions you can transition to, depending on your previous experience:

Teacher → EdTech

  • Companies that combine AI, as well as VR and AR technology, with traditional pedagogical techniques.

Scientist, researcher, pharmacist → BioTech

  • Organizations that, for example, use DNA sequencing to figure out health conditions and preemptively improve outcomes. 

Doctors, nurses, dentists, fitness professionals, therapists → HealthTech: 

  • Companies that create data-harnessing technologies to support lifestyles and healthcare.

Fashion/beauty → Fashion/Wearable tech

  • Businesses that combine technological innovations with high-end fashion and luxury items.

Environmentalism/conservation/manufacturing → GreenTech or CleanTech

  • Organizations that focus on innovations in renewable energy technologies or eco-friendly tech solutions.

Catering/hospitality → FoodTech

  • Organizations with advanced technologies for food processing, packaging, distribution, purchasing, and more. May also include food waste management efficiencies.

Real estate agents, mortgage advisors → Real estate tech

  • Businesses that facilitate property buying and renting, as well as home loans.

Insurance → InsurTech

  • Companies that provide B2B or B2C insurance and claims services via innovative SaaS-based platforms.

Lawyer/paralegal/regulator → RegTech or LegalTech

  • Organizations that utilize new technology to facilitate delivery or compliance and regulatory requirements, as well as legal services.

Travel agent, hotel staff, air steward → TravelTech or HospitaliTech

  • Businesses that help customers book trips, rooms, and events through applications.

Once you know where you want to go, scout positions in job search sites and postings. Here, it’s easy to narrow down your search for entry-level tech jobs based on location, industry, salary range, and other factors. Although job boards are traditional, it remains a popular route for many job seekers: 60% of job applications are still submitted through job boards.

Tip #2: Continue learning and get certified.

You always want to be sure to keep learning and refresh your skills continuously. Why? Because organizations tend to prefer candidates with existing tech skills, even if they don’t have experience. Nearly half (47%) of tech organizations look at tech skills credentials when considering applicants for entry-level tech jobs.

Being proficient in IT and having the credentials to back it up can boost an applicant’s confidence and credibility. In addition, certifications and badges encourage tech recruiters to give your application much consideration, even if you don’t yet have professional experience.

There are two options to speed up your transition:

  1. Try coding boot camps.
  2. Enroll in an online course and get certified, especially for the industry you’re trying to transition into.

Learning coding, even at the primary level, will help you understand at least the foundational processes foundational to any tech company. Online courses may take time to complete, but they are well worth it, especially once you have that final certification in hand. This will show companies that you are willing to try to learn new things and strive to succeed in your chosen career.

Tip #3: Update your online presence.

Combined, millennials and Gen Z constitute the biggest workforce demographics in terms of age, at 37% and 12.6%, respectively. By 2025, Gen Z will grow even bigger, to 27%. This means that the bulk of today’s workers is young digital natives with an active online presence.

In response, many businesses have evolved their recruiting strategies to reach where potential workers are: online and across social media. The vast majority of employers (85%)  have turned to social media to find and engage job seekers. Thus, it’s crucial that you update your online presence and increase your digital visibility to attract tech recruiters online.

Now that you’re going in a new direction, it’s time to start updating your profiles. The most essential to revamp/rebrand first is LinkedIn. Why? Because 77% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find and attract quality talent. This is where most companies find their talent, so make sure you update there on your progress.

Your other social media accounts should also have updates on your new endeavors. Facebook comes second to LinkedIn, at 63%, as the most-used channel for recruitment efforts. Overall, it’s wise to be comprehensive: though only 11% of recruiters use Instagram, for example, many experts predict it to be a major recruitment tool in the future.

Remember: Try not to overshare. Refrain from posting any highly-specific and sensitive details, such as your online course schedules, details of your coding projects, your next appointment for a job interview, and other similar things. 

Just give the occasional update to inform employee-seekers that you are what they are looking for.

Tip #4: Gain more relevant experience.

“Experience is the best teacher,” goes the saying. And it is indeed advantageous for candidates to have professional experience when applying for a tech position. If you are a recent graduate or a current student, you can either do an internship or consider volunteering.

An internship will help you learn industry lingo, norms, and new skills. Today, many internships are paid, and some may even end in a job offer. 70% of tech companies offer ongoing, full-time jobs to successful interns. Completing an internship gives candidates an 85% increased chance of employment after graduation.

On the other hand, volunteering is most often unpaid and only takes up a few hours (often on the weekends). Doing this on the side can help ease you into your tech transition by building experience and portfolio projects.

If you already have work experience or are currently employed but have free time on your hands, you can take on freelance work or side gigs. Freelance work is a quick way to practice skills while adding experience to your resume. Use your existing technical skills and find similar freelance work to practice them on.

Side gigs can make you money and allow you to try different jobs before committing to a career track. It will also help you build industry connections.

These options all contribute to you building your resume and skills arsenal to take on your future career in tech.

Tip #5: Leverage the power of networking.

Meet people with similar interests through networking, and highlight yourself within the relevant communities. The data on the power of networking is clear: 80% of professionals say networking is vital to their career advancement and success.

Moreover, nearly 100% believe that meeting and interacting with decision-makers and influencers build stronger long-term relationships. Some great options to find and create connections for would-be IT professionals are:

  • GitHub
  • Hackathons
  • Discord chat servers
  • Open-source communities

You can also leverage your LinkedIn connections and social media and build rapport with other industry professionals that may help you in your career. Use your familial contacts, as well. If you have family members, relatives, and friends who are tech professionals or have a background in IT, try and get recommendations from them.

Tip #6: Remember your soft skills.

You might not have the best coding or programming skills yet. However, for many companies, soft skills are as important, if not more important, than technical skills.

Soft skills, also known as “transferable” skills, are your people and personality capabilities. The vast majority (97%) of companies place a premium on such skills as:

  • Communication skills
  • Information processing
  • Problem-solving capabilities
  • Leadership skills
  • Trustworthiness

Simon Sinek, a world-famous author and motivational speaker, points this out in his popular talk about how we should measure success.

Sinek explains how the Navy Seals pick out their most effective members based on their performance and trustworthiness. According to them, they’d rather have mid- to low-performing individuals with high trust than high-performance, low-trust individuals who turn out to be toxic leaders or team members.

Do not undersell your soft skills. Make sure to show recruiters and hiring managers your personality and knowledge as you go through the hiring process. They are a tremendous asset to you and the company.

Tip #7: Create an informative cover letter.

Cover letters are crucial to landing entry-level tech jobs. Almost half (48%) of tech companies require applicants to submit cover letters, and 53% of organizations prefer candidates with cover letters.

Cover letters allow you to lay out your story or career history. Cover letters are crucial if you are looking to switch industries because they allow you to explain why you are making the shift and allow you to explain your background. This gives hiring managers and recruiters more insight into your personality, background, and capabilities beyond what you put in your resume.

When you write your cover letter, make sure that you:

  • Explain your interest in changing fields
  • Point out the advantages your unique background grants you.
  • Be vocal about your passion.
  • Don’t shy away from discussing your certifications and accomplishments.

Studies indicate that 35% of cover letters that don’t showcase a list of skills are rejected, while 36% are set aside because they are bland and generic. Employers want to see enthusiasm and motivation in their applicants. They also want to know if you’d be a great fit.

Your cover letter sends the message that not only will you be a dedicated employee, but you can be a great asset to the organization.

Tip #8: Be open to starting at the bottom.

Whether you’ve had previous experience, always be available to start at the bottom of the tech industry ladder. You may have been an advanced professional in your previous industry, but remember – you’re leaving it for a reason. 

It can be a difficult transition, but there are upsides to entry-level tech jobs. Starting from the bottom exposes you to valuable experiences and lessons that will help you grow. In addition, you get a real-world view of your industry, which will help you navigate your career down the years.

The lessons, expertise, and experiences you receive and the people you meet as you go along will soon translate to opportunities for a more challenging position. Also, the tech industry’s fast-paced growth and expansion mean more upward opportunities for your career. To kickstart your career in tech, you must prepare to start with an entry-level tech job and work your way up. 

Kickstarting Your Career the Smoothstack Way

Transitioning to a new industry can be challenging. The tips above will be beneficial, of course, in landing entry-level tech jobs. Still, sometimes, a successful change of career requires some innovation.

Smoothstack provides those who want to jumpstart their tech careers the opportunity to break into the industry, even if they lack experience or come from a non-tech background.

Our unique “Hire, Train, Deploy” model is built on finding and recruiting individuals with pre-existing coding skills and a passion for learning more. We offer real-world learning and a route into the world’s leading biggest companies. 

During our immersive and intensive 14-week training program, candidates are fully compensated. You will undergo a rigorous training curriculum that mirrors the tech stack of the client (and potential long-term employee). 

The outcome? The equivalent of 2-3 years experience and the very real possibility of a fantastic career in tech that will last many years. 

We take care of our candidates, hence our 98.3% retention rate. Successful Smoothstack grads earn 28% more than their peers over time.

If you’re ready to launch your career with us, head over here to learn more.

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