By Matt Cordio, Jill Zeisler, Kevin Morroe, Rashi Kholsa
The demand for a tech-skilled workforce is sky-high; the MKE Tech Hub Coalition is focused on increasing access to tech and tech-enabled/adjacent roles to meet this demand. These jobs pay more on average and can be supportive of remote work when necessary (like during a public health crisis!). We will need skilled workers from a wide variety of backgrounds to take an interest in tech, understand their unique value to the #mketech ecosystem, and pursue opportunities available to acquire high demand skills to prepare for employment.
But, where do you start? Preparing for a job search can be overwhelming!
We asked representatives from some of the Coalition’s member organizations who work day-in and day-out in this field for their input. This two-part blog series summarizes their key advice. This first blog is focused is on those things you can be doing BEFORE you start your job search. Thank you to the panelists for their fantastic advice! The second part in the series will be posted soon and will focus on the ins and outs of an effective job search.
STEP 1. Research the skills that are going to be in highest demand and explore related career pathways to confirm what you want to learn about next. Here’s what our panelists had to say about what the greatest demands are for tech talent:
- Your people skills are needed in the tech sector:
- People skills are becoming more and more important in the tech sector – the stereotype, that tech jobs involve lots of coding and limited human interaction, is simply inaccurate in today’s workplace.
- New technology makes the “coding” part of technology easier – your ability to interact with people and react to the needs of customers, drives better business outcomes and creates value for the organization.
- If you have strengths in this area, make sure to lean into them on your resume and in any future interview.
- Leadership and Communications skills are in demand:
- It’s impossible to efficiently and effectively complete software, hardware, or product delivery efforts without a leader who keeps the team on track and ensures there are clear communications.
- If you’ve led a team and have strong communication skills, learn more about Project Manager, Product Manager, Scrum Master, and Business Analyst roles as a way to apply your leadership and communication skills in the tech sector.
- Specific tech skills that are especially in demand in the greater Milwaukee region:
- Data Scientists & Data Disciplines
- Cyber Security
- Software Development and Software Engineers
- Cloud Engineers
- Blockchain (Credit Card and Real Estate Industries are growing sectors with this need)
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
- Infrastructure as a Code
- Modern Stack of Development (node)
STEP 2. Become engaged in the #mketech ecosystem! Doing research into local companies, attending meetups and local/regional tech user groups, and volunteering in areas of interest can give you a great idea of what is going on in the local tech ecosystem and help you build a professional and peer network that will help you keep learning and growing in your chosen career path. Developing positive professional and peer networks at all times, not just when you need a job, can lead to great opportunities for career advancement.
- Make sure to subscribe to the MKE Tech newsletter on mketech.org. While you are there, explore the rest of the website to see what else is going on in #mketech.
- Skills Pipeline runs CODE + BREWS a monthly community meetup on Saturday mornings for programmers at all levels to come together work on projects important to them and connect and collaborate with other software developers.
- With everyone being virtual, locally sponsored events are harder to find. Consider joining larger developer communities such as:
STEP 3. Set time aside to network and maintain a positive digital footprint over the course of your whole career.
- Set up a profile on LinkedIn and stay active!
- Proactively network on a regular basis and set time aside to stay in touch with former classmates and/or colleagues and/or social contacts.
- Keep your posts professional and inclusive.
- Reach out to see if they could help you learn about the companies they are connected to and/or if they might be willing to help you by making new contacts to help you grow your network.
- If anyone in your network is a hiring manager, keep them posted on your progress and ask them to do you the favor of keeping you posted of opportunities you’d be a good fit for. Be prepared to send them a resume just in case they are willing to review it for you.
- Don’t be afraid to send a well-written cold email or LinkedIn invitation. People genuinely want to help others. Be specific about what you’re looking to learn more about. Invite them to hop onto a short zoom call if they prefer. Most people are craving more connection in the midst of the virtual world we are living in.
STEP 4. Freshen up your skills. Once you know what you want to do next and have a network that can help you, consider what skills you might need to be ready when the right opportunity comes along. Being independently motivated to learn is a huge plus when being evaluated by a future employer. Explore free online learning opportunities to try things out before investing in something that might not be your thing. Check out the MKETech Reskilling Opportunities webpage to learn more about training programs, prerequisites, and costs (if any).