Looking for a new job, possibly in technology? Interested in entering or re-entering the workforce but unsure where to start, or if you’ve even got the right skills? Want to use your current skills and perhaps acquire new ones, but aren’t sure what employers are looking for? Have you been hearing about “new collar” jobs and want to learn more?
Five IBMers who have transitioned to new collar jobs share insights and experiences that can help put you on the road to a successful technology career.
1. Break out of your comfort zone – pick up the phone and send those emails.
“Passion drives curiosity, so do not be afraid to try something new. If you’re looking to break into the field, you first need to step outside of your comfort zone. Reach out to your local community college (if available) or call a university to see what type of programs they offer in cybersecurity. I also would encourage researching the different career paths that cybersecurity has to offer such as Security Engineer, Security Analyst and Compliance Officer in order to get a better understanding of the role it plays in cybersecurity.
Some professional certifications that are beneficial to have on your resume are: Security+, Network+, CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) and CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor). Also, take the initiative to send an email to a cybersecurity manager at a company you’re interested in working for to express your interest in the field. Ask if they have the time to discuss the different pathways that are offered more in-depth.”
2. Start by just getting involved, and explore your options from there.
“Software Development is an awesome new collar field to go into because there are so many events new coders can attend to learn and meet others already in the industry. If you’re looking to get involved, start going to local meet-ups—there are typically ones for specific programming languages, and many will have beginner tracks.
You can start building your skills and explore options such as boot camps or apprenticeship programs. For women and other underrepresented groups in tech, there are often specific coding meet-ups that can connect you with a support network while getting your foot in the door.”
3. Use your natural curiosity.
“If you find that you’re always asking “why?” and absolutely MUST have that answer, and if you’re a creative, innovative personality, I’d say a Cybersecurity Architect role could be satisfying for you. Some basic skills required are programming and scripting, teaching and communications, problem solving, metric analysis, data science, leadership and management or any related fields that may have required a diagnostics, repair and prevention mindset.
Once you’re on a team, don’t be afraid to “exploit the niche” – be internally competitive with yourself, and always hunt for the areas to improve within the team, then patch it and market it. You should take the jobs nobody wants to do, own them and parade your success with pride. You should rarely say no or believe that certain jobs are below you. Contribute with curiosity and build out your portfolio of wins, losses and recoveries, and always demonstrate the utmost quality in each task, as your work is your personal brand image. A consistent “yes” with quality completion and client care will open doors of opportunity.”
4. Get to know your specialty, and get comfortable talking about yourself.
“New collar jobs are like other jobs here at IBM Design. Meaning, I would offer up the same advice for anyone job-hunting in the design field. Know your specialty and tailor your portfolio to showcase it. If you’re looking for a job in user experience design, you should be showing UX Design work. Keep other items like logos, websites, print design, etc. to a minimum. Make sure the problems you are looking to solve in your designs are clearly identified and show the process of iteration in your designs to help solve those problems. Only showing beautiful, high fidelity images of the finished product is a portfolio pitfall if you don’t explain how and why you got there.”
5. Build a network of like-minded people.
“The first step to landing a new collar job is to believe that you can do it – be excited and approach the path with enthusiasm. Next, ‘follow’ the individuals who have already made it via online social media platforms. I recommend emailing them, direct messaging them, or somehow finding a way where you can openly ask questions. Bottom line, you should follow the people that inspire you.
Additionally, join a community of like-minded individuals, whether it is a digital community or an in-person one, such as MeetUps. Establishing your network and growing your connections is vital to becoming a new collar worker. The better you become at building meaningful relationships, the better off you’ll be in your application phases.”
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