Top 5 Myths When You’re Trying to Get into Tech | Get Into Tech by Bessy Tam

Top 5 Myths When You’re Trying to Get into Tech

Published on 17 October 2018 by Bessy Tam | Filed in Interview & Informational Chats, Resume & LinkedIn Help

You’re in marketing and want to get into tech. Glad you’re in the right place. I’ve been through it all and can show you exactly what I did to get into tech from marketing. The bonus is I got in within 2 weeks of applying with no technical experience.

I know how you feel. You’re constantly thinking:

  • I’ve been applying for jobs in tech and it’s just crickets.

  • I’m not doing anything wrong, I just don’t know how to best navigate this because it is a completely different industry and it feels like a little exclusive in some ways.

  • I have been working in digital marketing for so long, I don’t really know what other things I would qualify or have the skillsets for

  • If I stayed in the same company, I’d be miserable. I feel like it would set me back in my careers in some ways.

But going from marketing to tech is hard. I feel you. At first when I applied, I only got marketing positions because that was the easiest route. I also didn’t have friends in tech. I always thought that if someone offered me a job that was really on point with what I’m looking for in tech, I would go in a heartbeat. All I wanted to do was solve big problems move around the world, and be in a family environment that values the work and dedication I bring to the job.

And I’ve done it! I got in with no tech background, just 2 years of experience in PR/SEO, and got the job within 2 weeks of applying. Most importantly, I’m now on the other side of the table, getting at least 1-2 chat requests on LinkedIn a week, looking through applications for our team, and conducting interviews for hire. I know what it means to be on both ends and have helped quite a few people get tech interviews of their own. Now instead of  letting you meet 50+ people, send 100+ unique applications, and have 15 interviews when I first mindlessly searched for my passion, I want to show you step by step in how I got multiple offers from tech companies, one including Google.

Few things to note:

  • I don’t have any technical background

  • I don’t plan to go into software engineering or programming

  • I had 10 months of “applying in the dark” until I had a coach and got the job in 2 weeks (wish had him way earlier!)

  • The process to get the job is repeatable because in my recent transition internationally, I got 2 offers out of only 2 applications. A 100% success rate

  • Being in this role helped me work in another country permanently. +100 points!

Top 5 M​yths When You’re trying to get into tech

“I should compensate another 2 years to build the skills and set me up for something I want in tech”

If you’ve ever played a sport or been in a dance/art group, you’ll know the feeling before playing a game in the league, going into competition, or performing on stage. It’s nerve racking but you know you’ve built the skills in the last few months during intense practice that you would do well. You wouldn’t tell yourself “I’m going to learn the skills for 2 more years before I get in there” because you know that you only learn more and get better by being in the game, in competition, or on stage. Most importantly, you know you learned enough and practiced enough to show up.

It’s a similar concept. You’ve done enough projects and achievements within your role, team, and wider company to show impact and broader business acumen and problem solving abilities. The most important part is knowing how to convey these achievements with data, evidence, and quotes to showcase the impact. This is actually the #1 mistake I see marketing applicants make when applying to tech – not being able to speak about their achievements and apply it with a story. Witness how Nancy’s resume transformed from crickets to 2 tech interviews in 2 weeks. This also  brings us to the 2nd myth

“I don’t have a tech background”

Most people think you have to have a tech background in order to be in tech. However,

  1. I’ve actually worked with biology, psychology, literature, political, musician backgrounds before in Google.

  2. Many hiring managers and tech recruiters actually prefer hiring outside of the tech industry because tech companies prioritize diverse backgrounds and knowledge. We call these “gurus” – people with exclusive knowledge that can solve specific problems within the team or business. This exclusive knowledge can include product, industry, or marketing specific knowledge.

“I think I’m applying to things that are outside my range but I don’t really know”

There are a lot of different titles in a tech company.

  • There’s account management where you manage corporations that use your tech products or software. Entry level starts with Account Associates (1-2 years) to Account Managers (3-6 years) to Account Executives/Lead (5-8 years) to Industry Managers (7-10 years) managing a team and beyond.

  • There’s marketing management where you help promote the tech company and products for the clients in the market (B2B) or help strategize marketing for users in the market (B2C) or help with marketing products and solutions internally (B2E).. It usually starts with Associate titles (1-3 year) to Manager titles (3-8 year) to Lead titles (8-12 year).

  • In between promotions for both account management and marketing management, there are “senior” within the titles similar to Senior Account Management.

In the end, many tech companies are very flexible with how and who they hire, as long as the person fits the role, can drive results based on their challenges, and can offer a unique perspective on the business.

For example, when the role I got into at Google required 2 years relevant experience. I worked as a marketer in Boston 2 years before that, not necessarily in tech but in PR/digital marketing. Nothing was directly relevant. However, they liked my nimbleness and ability to adapt and learn quickly.

As you can see, it’s my overall knowledge that helped but also the fit for the role, solving that team’s specific business challenges. Find out what the type of job that someone at your age and experience level could typically go into

“I’ve applied to a bunch of jobs online and just waiting to hear back”

Lazlo Bock, Google’s Chief People officer said, “Each year, around 2 million apply for a job here and 5,000 are hired” (The Guardian). That means only one in 400 applicants get hired. When I was interviewing I was always against 50+ other candidates, both when I got into Google and also when I applied for the international role.

That’s why it’s important to understand where recruiters and hiring managers usually hire from and what the success or preferred medium is. Sure Builtin’s 2017 Tech Recruiting Playbook showed that majority of their hires come from job boards and referrals, But internal candidates and referrals are actually the most successful hiring according to Jobvite. Job boards are usually successful hires if the candidates have a similar background as the role they are hiring for.

You know it’s important, 76% of you job seekers ranked employee referrals as being of high to extremely high importance (US News). Then why do you still apply to jobs online? Why do you still “wait to hear back” and never actually do?

It’s because most of you say, “I don’t have friends in tech” or “I only have a network in my industry” and you stop right there. The issue isn’t that you don’t have friends in the space, it’s because you haven’t tried reaching out by leveraging:

  • 3rd degree relationships on LinkedIn

  • Friends who have a huge network and may know someone who may know someone in a tech company

  • Friends who directly work with clients/partners who are in tech companies

  • Your clients/partners in tech companies – account managers in Facebook, Instagram, Google, Sales Force, Shopify.. All the products that you use!

There is a specific process and script you can use to reach out, build relationships, and get referrals. Because in the end, most tech companies give a $1000-$5000 referral bonus for employees just for referring! We know that they believe in you when they do – even if they don’t actually know you, they can see all the accomplishments in your resume and effort in your approach – as long as you do it the right way. That’s why you need guidance from someone who knows how the tech hiring process works.

“I’m pretty good at it. I’m just researching online”

Researching only gives you the PR-safe version of companies. Employees – both past and present – do not want to have anything written in the world wide web as it may tarnish their reputation or relationships in the industry. That’s why you don’t find answers to your specific questions- what are the companies looking for? What is my natural entry point in the tech industry? what skillsets that I know a lot of peers in my industry at my age don’t necessarily have? And if you have a specific job or company in mind, “what’s that job look like?” “Where do I start?”

These are longer form questions that require #1 knowledge of the company dynamics in that specific office in a specific time frame. #2 Understanding of the teams and the role that you’re looking for. #3 TIME! Someone can write a 8000 word article about that role and the ins-and-outs may change in 6 months. Why? Because the tech world moves so quickly, new products come out every few months and client dynamics change.

That’s why we cannot rely on researching online. In the end, they are hiring you to solve a problem that only you have exclusive knowledge or experiences doing. If you can learn more about the job on all angles, and know that you can help the team achieve what they want, then you can for sure get the tech job! The question is, how do you find out what that job looks like?

That’s why we cannot rely on researching online. In the end, they are hiring you to solve a problem that only you have exclusive knowledge or experiences doing. If you can learn more about the job on all angles, and know that you can help the team achieve what they want, then you can for sure get the tech job! The question is, how do you find out what that job looks like?

About the Author

Bessy Tam is a career coach who helps busy professionals get into their dream non-tech job in tech. She’s helped dozens of clients get interviews and offers from companies such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Lyft, Amazon, Babbel, & More. She currently works at Google in Chicago.

  • Harnish says:

    I am not sure, might be making all the mistakes, as I am either not hearing back for my job applications or getting rejected without any clear known reasons.

  • Jasmin says:

    I feel like one mistake I’m making is not researching the company enough before curtailing my application and CV to properly fit the role. In an effort to feel better about myself during this unemployment phase, I’ve just been sending out blanket cover letters without thinking about how I stand out against other applicants. But it just feels like a race against time–how many worthy applications can I send out in a short period of time? I often feel like I wasted time after each rejection I receive.

    • Bessy Tam says:

      Sending out blanket cover letters is definitely a waste of time 🙂 The challenge is because a) It’s not tailored and doesn’t speak to what they need and b) you spend so much time editing a cover letter, might as well do the prep work aka informational interviews and resume revamp first thing

      Before that though, it’s not about applying to everything out there and “seeing what sticks”. My students always only “apply” aka get referrals to 1-2 companies for 1 “title”. This way, your time is focused on prepping for interviews, meeting with the people on the team, getting the referral, doing mock interviews.

      this is a “go deep” instead of “going wide” approach

  • Narubi says:

    I think I am making a few of the mistakes because I only hear back from a few companies but at the same I am being selective in the roles I applied for. I think my hold back is that I do not have enough experience in digital marketing to be able to make the transition into tech. I have done a few informational and have been told that I can apply to other kind of roles more aligned to my skills in tech which I am very interested in but these roles are more limited.

    • Bessy Tam says:

      what were the other roles they were asking you to apply for? I’m assuming you were going for marketing associate/digital marketing roles

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