How women in non-tech roles can break into tech

Woman working at desk, writing in a notepad, businesswoman

Article by Rita Trehan, founder of Dare Worldwide

The tech industry is one of the most sought after and fast-growing industries.

As start-ups from across the world battle it out for funding, and scale-ups grow at lightning pace, the industry needs talent. And while many think that working in tech requires technical skills or a technical background, you’d be surprised to hear that most jobs within the industry are made-up of non-tech roles. These include human resources, marketing, sales and project management positions.

So if you’re thinking about working in tech but not sure where to get started, below are some top tips.

Identify the role you want

Firstly, it’s important to identify what role would suit your skills best. Most skills can be transferred easily to a tech company; just as we need engineers, analysts, and developers, we also need HR specialists, marketing leads and project managers. So there’s plenty of room for people who don’t come from technical backgrounds! In recent years there’s been an influx of job sites that only show tech-industry jobs. It’s worth scouring them to see what’s already out there. If you’ve already seen a tech company that you might like to work for, but the roles advertised aren’t what you’re looking for, it’s always worth sending a speculative application, as they may be able to create a role for you.

Once you’ve identified what role might be suitable, it’s important to find a company that will align with your values.

Finding the right company

Finding the right company is essential to succeeding in your new role.

As the tech market has boomed over the last few years, there’s opportunity for job-seekers to find a company that aligns with their wider interests and join a cause that they care about, whether that’s sustainability and climate change, education equality, or social good, so do your research and see what start-ups could be of interest.

A business that aligns with your values and personality – as well as a mission you can get behind – will help you to thrive in your new role.

Focus on transferable skills

Transferable skills are important to any job, but especially when you’re trying to break into a new industry or a completely new role. Transferable skills are usually soft skills in the sense they can’t really be taught but come with experience. They include leadership, time management, prioritisation, delegation, effective communication, as well as research and analysis.

In interviews it helps  to demonstrate that you have these skills by offering examples and context. So, for example, if you’re an effective communicator, prepare to explain how you’ve communicated effectively in your past role.

It’s not just about skillset, but personality fit

It’s no secret that the better your character traits mesh with your career, the more productive and positive your job performance will be. It’s the same for choosing a workplace that aligns with your values and personality. For example, there’s a stark contrast between someone who thrives in a corporate, formal workplace to someone who thrives in a more relaxed, informal one. Both have pros and cons, so think about what would work best for you.

Lastly, don’t be fooled by the common stereotypes. There’s a misconception in the industry that all start-ups are non-hierarchical, and mostly informal, laid-back workplaces. This is true for many, but not all. And it all depends on who’s running the company, so be sure to ask about company culture during your interview and research the company’s social media accounts to get a feel for the working environment.

Do your research

In job-hunting, research – whether it’s into the salary or the company –  is key. There are many online platforms that show insights into salaries, benefits and the working environment of a company, so be sure to have a look at these before applying to your role.

Lastly, salaries in the tech industry tend to be higher, especially if they’ve received substantial funding. This means they’re able to offer competitive salaries in order to attract the best talent as well as expand the company’s presence and offering. So go into the interview with a salary in mind that aligns with your skillset, experience and sense of fairness.