How building your tech knowledge will help you succeed in your new career

January 27, 2022
Working in Tech
David Turnbull

You’ve decided you want to work in tech. That’s a great first step. But let’s set your goal a little higher. You shouldn’t want to simply work in tech, you want to be successful in your chosen tech career. You should enjoy your work and find it fulfilling. You should be spending your days working on interesting problems alongside teams of highly motivated people.

Does this sound unrealistic? It’s not, but it won’t come automatically. If you want a successful career in technology then it’s vital to make sure you understand technology.

If you have previous experience and formal education then you may think it will be enough for an easy career transition. A proven track record of success in your career may be enough to open some initial doors, and you might even get a job. But you are going to be at a distinct disadvantage if you start a new career knowing that you don’t really understand the products your company is building and selling, or the wider industry in general.

Here are a couple of quick examples of what I’m talking about.

Example 1: Tech Marketing

Let’s say you’re a successful marketing manager for an FMCG company. You’ve done well so far but you’re bored – you see the opportunities in tech and are interested in making the move. Surely you can simply leverage your existing skill set and experience into a tech marketing job? 

Well, software products are a very different beast to consumer goods. Do you understand how software is made? The development cycles, product launches, market dynamics, user acquisition channels? Are you up to speed with the latest growth frameworks? Can you speak confidently about N-day cohort retention and modeling conversion attribution? 

I’m not saying this to scare people off. None of this is rocket science, and it can all be learned. But it’s important to understand that while you may have experience in a role, you will likely lack the specialised knowledge that’s key to a successful career in tech. 

Example 2: Tech Recruiting

Another example to further explain my point. Let’s assume you are working in recruitment for a mid-size services company and you’re interested in making a move into tech recruitment. You have excellent people skills and a proven ability to build out a network of candidates. These are positive attributes that could definitely help you land a job. But to truly thrive in tech recruiting you’ll want to have some understanding of the technical elements of the roles you're recruiting for. 

I can tell you from first-hand experience that it’s very frustrating to be continually contacted by recruiters who clearly don’t understand the positions they are trying to fill. I’m not saying you need to learn to code to hire programmers, but it is useful if you understand why you shouldn’t be asking for candidates to have 10+ years of React experience. 

The many benefits of increased knowledge

Building your knowledge in topics across technology, startups and the broader industry will help you:

Choose the right career

You’ll know enough about the industry to choose the career path that best matches your unique set of goals, skills, and experience.

Learn quickly

With a solid understanding of the fundamentals of your position and industry you’ll be able to quickly get up to speed on more complex topics.

Network effectively 

You’ll be able to “speak the language” of tech, feel confident contributing to tech-focused discussions and meet interesting people at industry events.

Get a tech job

You’ll be more appealing to employers and recruiters if you can demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the position, the industry, and understand enough jargon to “talk the talk”.

Progress in your career

You’ll be able to establish credibility with your new colleagues, feel confident in your own abilities, and fully contribute to your new role from day one.

You might be thinking “Well of course, knowing more is better than knowing less”. But there is more to it than that. Your time is limited and there is an almost unlimited amount of content of varying quality available online, so it’s very important you don’t waste time focusing on the wrong things. Your learning needs to follow a path.

5 steps to knowledge building for a career in tech

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Follow a path

It’s impossible to go deep on every subject so follow a learning path based on your specific career goals.

2. Build a foundation

Make sure you have a strong grasp of the basics before trying to tackle more complex subjects.

3. Focus on the topics that matter

Don’t waste time reading tech funding news or random blog posts, but go deeper on the topics that will actually help you succeed in a new career.

4. Prepare yourself for education and employment 

Whether your path is leading you to further specialized education or towards your first tech job, make sure you are working to maximize your appeal to potential educators and employers.

5. Keep learning to perform to your full potential 

Learning doesn’t stop when you sign a job offer – make sure you are continually leveling up so you can continue to grow and succeed in your chosen career.

I know the process of starting a new career can feel overwhelming at times – I’ve done it myself! But while my path was far from a straight line, with a little help yours can be. 

If you’d like guidance along your journey to a career in tech then make sure to sign up to Metamorphous. We are almost ready to launch our range of free courses based on the 5 steps outlined above, and if you sign up now I’ll make sure you get access from day one.

David Turnbull
Founder of Metamorphous
Since changing careers to tech in my late 20s I've worked in B2B SaaS growth and was a partner at an ecommerce company that was ultimately acquired.

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