One of the Best Pieces of Advice That I Can Give You Is…

… get into the high tech industry. Web technology (and anything related) to be more specific.

Period.

I’m blessed. Seriously blessed – and trust me, even in the worst of times I can see these blessings clearly and I don’t take them for granted one bit. You see, I live in an environment and work inside an ecosystem that has shown mind-numbing growth over the past decade.

I’ve never been in want for a job. The demand for the work that I do continues to grow and the compensation isn’t too bad either. And, the longer I stay in this industry the greater value I bring to the table. It’s a win-win-win-win (“winning?”) scenario.

This isn’t just my one-off perspective, it’s been studied in great depth and as one industry report has shared:

High-tech is a bright spot in an otherwise gray economic picture. Jobs in this industry have grown nearly four times faster than the overall economy during the past 18 months. tweet

There are dozens of other reports (like this one via Mashable) that tech hiring is going is going up-and-to-the-right on a curve that is not stopping.

Especially if you’re somewhat “bent” technologically and have had an inkling – do it! What’s stopping you?

Oh, I get it… I understand… you see, here’s the thing (before you say anything close to “BUT… … … … … I’M NOT A DEVELOPER OR DESIGNER OR PROGRAMMER OR… … …”): You don’t need to be a super-whiz-top-of-your-game-technology-guru to do some serious damage in my playing field!

All you need are a few tips that can get you started:

1. You Don’t Need To Become Someone You’re Not

The first thing that many people wrongly believe is that they have to become a super-geek and learn things like HTML/CSS/JavaScript and more to make it into this industry. Although I believe that many people are “closet coders” that have yet to find this as their passion I believe that even more people never need to learn to program for a living.

What you do need to know is (and be confident in) yourself as a person. Sometimes this requires a bit of professional coaching to discover and other times a simple assessment can do the trick as well.

More than that though is your collective experience as an individual and knowing the things that you’re incredibly good at and finding the connection points into a high tech environment.

You see, here’s the truth: High Tech businesses aren’t just made up of designers, developers, and super nerds – they need sales, marketing, business development, project managers and more to operate fully. Sometimes getting into the high tech space just requires you to open your mind to applying your already good set of skills into a high tech business.

Who would have thought?

2. Location, Location, Loc…

This is very similar to point #1 above and it’s relatively the same message: You don’t have to do something crazy and move across the country to find a great job in the high tech industry.

In fact, you can begin your career by doing much of it right inside the comfort of your own home (or try to find a productivity cafe or coworking spot). With many high tech companies hiring remote staff and with incredible communication tools at their disposal you could be a valuable part of a team right where you are.

There is something to be said about proximity and flesh-and-blood engagement, but that’s not where you have to start at least initially. The wide world of high tech business allows for this flexibility. Take it. Love it.

3. Social Media… And Stuff.

It’s true: Social Media, Social Networking, and anything “Social” is becoming a must-have skill in high tech. If you’re not really engaged with the tools and the main web services like Facebook and Twitter then you simply can’t speak intelligently about high tech at large.

If you want to “break” into this industry you need to learn the lingo, the language, and the culture. There is no better way of doing this than using the tools and the technology yourself. I can’t tell you how many people I meet who somehow want to build the “next great app” but who don’t even use Facebook or Twitter. This sounds ridiculous as I type it out but it’s true:

Them:

I have this awesome game-changing idea for a mobile app for the iPhone that’ll be the next billion dollar business like Instagram! tweet

Me:

Great! … … *Innocently asking questions now about their experience* … … … So… You don’t use Facebook or Twitter? Do you have Instagram at all? Do you blog? tweet

Them:

No… not really… but my idea is pretty foolproof and sound and I know that people will use it! tweet

Me:

… … /facepalm tweet

(If you don’t even understand my response then you should probably go look that up.)

As odd as this somewhat fictitious conversation is I’ve had this conversation more times than I can count. I have no idea what these people are really thinking.

4. Don’t Quit Your Day Job

One of the classic challenges (which isn’t really a challenge, mind you) is thinking that to get into high tech you need to do something dramatic (or what I call “foolish”) to make it in. This couldn’t be more far from the truth!

The best transitions are the ones that are calculated and full of wisdom. Something simple as bucketing out time every night to invest in this change can be the most effective means of making that type of transition.

Also, networking with other people within that industry, giving them a listening ear, and even perhaps finding a mentor (or two) can do a world of good. If you’re interested in high tech then there are few things better than saddling up with some people who are already there. Asking good questions, not being a pain in the toosh about it (e.g. annoying), and being humble about where you are and where you want to head is as good a place to start as any.

But, please don’t quit your day job, even if it really, really, really sucks. You can last a few more months, trust me. Work yourself out of it if you can, or start getting involved and let networking do the rest. It’s worth noting that networking is one of my core professional development strategies (if you can call it that).

5. Be Realistic

Finally, let’s get real for a sec and let me tell you that it’s not all sugar and lollypops over here in high-tech land, so don’t be fooled. In fact, guess what: It’s still “work” at the end of the day.

The high tech industry is growing and there’s great job security here – but you can lose your job just as easily as you can in any other job scenario if you’re not acting right. Stay humble and know that you’re just getting started. Most people can spot a pompous applicant who’s postering themselves for whatever reason – don’t do that.

At the end of the day you have to create value for yourself and for the organizations and team’s that you work and serve with. There’s no escaping that – I’m just not sure where some people got the idea that it’s “easier” on the other side.

It’s not.

But, hey, I love it here and it’s totally worth it. I hope you join me soon!

  • http://www.carusophotography.com Jay

    As somebody that made the leap in January of 2011, I would suggest anybody take what John says here very seriously. Particularly, the part about networking. A good deal of the work I have done over the last 6-8 months has been the result of being able to get connected with people who are looking for a solution (whether it is IT/Social Media Work or photography) via somebody else that I was connected to. It is a critical necessity.

    Also, be prepared. The opportunities are not going to blowing through the door. You are going to have to work and work very hard. “Passion” is not enough. Answer all emails. Return all phone calls quickly. In short, F.U. – follow up. People are busy. They are out hustling as well and you have to be the one that sticks with them. Several times I was able to close deals simply by following up and showing that I was interested in working with the person who contacted me.

    Great post, John.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i’ve seen you rock it out jay… well done! it’s tough, isn’t it?

  • http://www.brandongilliland.com Brandon

    My brother is really wanting to go into the tech business like designing programs and stuff…

    I’ll point him to this!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing brandon!

  • Bloggoround

    I noticed in the graphic that Atlanta was not mentioned as one of the strongest markets for technology hiring.

    Seeing that Atlanta is the “hub” of the south it seems like they would be a technology center.

    Have the city leaders not directed and developed it that way or are there other reasons?

    How does Atlanta rank in the technology spectrum?

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      what’s nice about high tech is that it’s less about geography than opportunity.

  • Rob

    Great post John – and timely for me. I really need to work on connecting more. I’d love to hear more about how you build your networks and how you’re connecting with people.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      rob,

      one person at a time. that’s all!

      • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

        That is not the advice I was expecting, but it makes perfect sense!

  • http://brbmedia.com Brett

    Love this! I’m in the very early stages of exploring my options in the tech world. I currently work in the IT world gaining valuable experience, but the more I talk to others about my passions it is neat to see the potential opportunities. It definitely won’t be easy though. In fact, it looks like it will be much harder than sticking with my current path.

    Thanks for your continuing encouragement!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing brett! there’s tons of opportunity here!

  • http://www.romanrandall.com Roman

    Wow, great post. I’m currently transitioning into the high tech industry, and the tips above were SO helpful. Thanks John!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      roman,

      nice! where do you think you want to head?

  • http://www.about.me/benterry Ben Terry

    I’m curious how many high schoolers and freshmen in college have read this post…It would have been helpful for someone to point this out to me even earlier in my life.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      send it around. for sure!