Making a Lateral Career Change within the Tech Industry

Gabriella Dymott

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Making a lateral career move is more common than you’d expect! In this clip, Darwin Recruiters join Girls In Tech to give advice for candidates transferring jobs without technical experience.

‘You want to try and generate as much relevant experience without actually having had a job’.

It’s important to focus on what you do have, what current skills you can transfer.

But also build up as much of a technical background as possible, through internships, boot camps and certificates- anything that will demonstrate your commitment.

‘Determination and enthusiasm is 90% of it’.


Alexandra’s question, she has asked for any specific tips for people that are making a lateral career change from a completely different industry and have little tech experience.

That will come as a difficult question, so you will get asked that in an interview, why did you want to change?

Why are you going from project management into software development?

That’s a difficult question to answer, I think. And so many people do it, you wouldn’t believe how many people, and even actually recruiters go into software development.

That happens a lot.

So it’s a really common thing first thing to know.

So no shame or anything like that. You should definitely own it.

You’ve chosen to make a great step in your career and a lack of career change.

It comes back down to all these points. To be honest, let them know why you want to make that change.

There must have been some poignant factors that have caused you to change.

And I would just say, like with anyone, I’m sure there’s some people on here that are probably looking for their first job in the industry or making that career change because that’s obviously why you’re here listening to us ramble on, you want to know how to get a job.

That is, I think the most important thing is that you want to kind of accelerate your skills but you haven’t got relevant experience.

So the ways to do that are a portfolio.

If you are a software developer, think about maybe doing some open source stuff, maybe go on GitHub, create your own website, something like that.

You want to try and generate as much relevant experience without actually having had a job.

So wherever that may be, I’m giving a lot of software experience because that’s what I recruit in (I apologise).

But yes, that is what you want to try and do is generate this portfolio that people can look at because they can’t go, okay, well, they’ve done the job for three years.

What you want to do is give them something they can look at and go, oh, but they can do it though because this is what they’ve created to show me that they can.

Maybe, Danielle, you can weigh in on that one because I know that you’re quite experienced in that.

Danielle: No, I’d love to.

No, I think the important thing is that, I almost stopped looking at the actual schooling at this point because so many people do do lateral moves or change industries.

So what I look for is, I mean, things like if they have made a change, do they have some kind of technical background? So a boot camp is really helpful, certificates, anything to demonstrate that you put in time to really show that you’re serious about it and you have a foundation.

Foundations are easy to start with.

If you have nothing but interest, then that’s really tough because basically someone has to completely upskill you for technical position.

I think those are super important to have and then I think we were talking about relevant experience or maybe just how to position that because I’ve also helped some colleagues who made a transition and went on and on about skills that aren’t really transferable now to a tech world.

So it’s like that’s super cool that you develop designs for a new dress or something but I want to see project management I want to see you can own tasks on your own time management things and you’ve probably done this, and a lot of skills in other industries are transferable it’s just how to position them and we’ve been talking a lot about problem solving, analytical kind of ability.

All of that is very relevant in the software world so I think it’s just repositioning what you’ve done to make it appealing on the technical side.

Ideally having boot camp or certifications to show that you’ve got some sort of base on the technical piece, would be my two bigger things.

I think I had a third but I already forgot.

Sorry no, I remember.

Okay, right, even small internships also are amazing so if you can reach out and just do like an unpaid internship few months build up your coding skills.

Sure it’s a hit in terms of like two months maybe you won’t get paid for it but then people are more willing to take you on and coach you and those are internships and experiences that you can then take forward and you might even get you a job there so it’s just a way to get your foot in the door.

People see that determination and enthusiasm and that’s 90% of it.