For some, the tech industry may sound like a daunting or male-dominated profession. But Jellyfish Training’s Digital Marketing Trainer Niki Grant believes it’s a great place to be — regardless of your gender.

So whether you’re trying to get your first job in tech or you’re returning to the industry after a career break, read on for Niki’s expert advice on how to get ahead and maximise your potential.

Embrace what makes you different

Having different perspectives is vital in tech. “Don’t see anything about yourself as a weakness, as it’ll be a strength to someone who’s looking to pitch to a particular audience, or to offset some of the personality types they already have on their team”, Niki explains.

“For example, if you’re nervous returning to work following maternity leave, and a brand is designing an app for breastfeeding women, you’ve got the first-hand experience to get that product right. So whoever you are, you have a valuable voice because that’s what the consumer market is made up of.”

In fact, Niki believes the need for diversity in tech goes beyond whether you’re male or female. “The wider variety of people you can have in a team, the more skillsets you’re adding together. So it’s important to make sure you have a good mix of people from different genders, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds.”

Build your brand

“I know people always say this, but tech has quite a celebrity culture, so building your brand is important.”

Luckily, Niki says this is easy to do on social media. “You want to create a persona for when you’re meeting and networking with people. Aim for consistent content curation and tone of voice — as if you were a publisher with your own brand identity.”

When researching interview candidates, Niki explains that she’s always impressed when she sees an applicant using their social platforms for thought leadership. “It’s great when someone goes out of their way to say ‘that’s interesting, I’m going to talk about that’. Plus consistency when it comes to posting, replying and getting involved in conversations are all good signs.”

Harness the power of social platforms

Speaking of social media, Niki notes there are plenty of other tactics you can use to help you get ahead in the world of technology. “Twitter is a great place for finding people in the tech community. Create lists of accounts that are relevant to the area you’re interested in, so you can get involved in the conversation. There’s nothing better than listening to real people who work in the industry talk about what’s important right now.”

Niki believes joining groups can also help you advance your career. “If you search LinkedIn for a topic you’re interested in, there will be groups for it. Try to find an active one with a few thousand members.”

But this is also an opportunity to stray from your go-to social platforms, as Niki explains. “Tech is all about finding your own way and using the tools at your disposal to solve a problem. So don’t rely on Facebook. Look at Reddit, Tumblr and lesser-known social media platforms. That’s where a lot of the interesting conversations are happening.”

Absorb as much knowledge as you can

Niki is a firm believer in reading as many relevant articles and posts as possible — not only to help you get into the industry but also because this is a useful skill for any tech career. As she explains, “because technology changes so often, it’s important to keep up to date with it. When you work within an organisation or agency, you’ll learn a lot through osmosis — subconsciously taking in ideas and knowledge. So give yourself a head start and read as much as you can. You don’t have to understand everything, but seeing what words and topics are coming up often is going to help, even if you don’t realise it. It’s all about reading little bits and knitting them together.”

Not sure you’ve got enough time? Niki’s advice is to make it part of your daily routine. ”Sign up to interesting newsletters and read them over your morning coffee”, she suggests.

This is also helpful if you’ve been out of the tech or work world for a bit and are trying to find your feet again. “Reading is a fantastic way of keeping up with what’s going on without any pressure — keeping your finger on the pulse until you’re back up and running.”

Don’t let not having a degree put you off

“Full disclosure; I’m slightly biased here because I’m not a graduate. But that also means I’m proof that you don’t need a degree to get into tech,” explains Niki. “Yes, if you want to be a data scientist or something similar, your employer might want you to have a maths degree. But broadly speaking, tech is a creative industry and you can’t really grade that.”

Based on her experience, Niki argues that being a non-graduate can actually stand you in good stead. “The school leavers I’ve hired or worked with have been enthusiastic, great at troubleshooting and work really well with others. I think this is because they’ve had to find their own way and their learning has been more self-directed, which shows motivation.”

Whatever your education, background or experience, Niki believes you should follow your ambitions. “If you’re interested in tech, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If you want to go for it, then go for it.”

Niki GrantAbout the author

Niki is a Digital Marketing trainer with over a decade’s worth of experience in media agencies – both independent and network. A winner of Media Week’s “30 Under 30” competition, Niki was the youngest Business Director to be hired in Mindshare’s 20+ years of history at the age of 26, and went on to lead their UK Search team before pivoting towards training.

About Jellyfish Training

Founded in 2014, Jellyfish Training offers over 120 digital classroom and online training courses ranging from Digital Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Analytics to Cloud Technology, Cyber Security and Web Development.

As a Google certified training provider, Jellyfish has helped over 50,000 people from global corporates to small businesses, as well as non-profits, charities and government organisations to upskill their workforces.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here