April 18, 2017
Long gone are the days when American employees were expected to work for one business for 40 years and retire with a pension. Now, most people switch jobs 10 to 15 times during their career. The IT field may seem like it would be most attractive to younger workers, but the reality is that it’s become a popular option for middle-aged workers who wish to reinvent themselves.
In fact, with 54 percent of U.S. workers seeking out a new career path at least once due to downsizing, it makes perfect sense for people to take an interest in IT. After all, this is one of the few fields that experiences continual growth. Despite this, though, there are some middle-aged workers who may feel intimidated by making this leap. Fortunately, a few tips can make it much easier.
1. Get the Right Education
Most people who succeed in the IT industry have, at minimum, an associate’s degree in information technology.
Many of these IT programs can be completed within one year, which removes the heavy educational burden that’s typically associated with a career change. As long as you already have a good working knowledge of computers and enjoy solving problems, you should be a good fit for IT.
2. Speak the Language
Even if you have an IT degree, your resume may get ignored if you don’t format it properly. Keep in mind that there’s a high likelihood that the head of the IT department will be younger than you.
Streamline your resume by focusing on your accomplishments and using up-to-date industry keywords. It’s also wise to highlight any degrees, certificates or awards you have earned in related fields.
3. Send a Thank You Email
If you want to work in IT, you must embrace the culture. Therefore, sending an email thank you is much more advisable than putting a physical card into the mail. In fact, 87 percent of today’s executives prefer to receive thank you messages via email. Reaching out in this way makes it clear that you can adapt to modern methods.
4. Salary Flexibility Is Necessary
It’s awful to be downsized from a job that pays six figures or to discover that you truly have no passion left for the career you’ve held for decades. Sadly, when you start looking for a new career, you need to be aware that the salary you’ll be offering probably won’t match what you’re accustomed to.
For example, the median salary for entry level IT Auditors is $58,387. If a switch to IT is what you desire, though, you can work your way up over time. The average IT manager salary is a robust $89,450, which makes this a natural career goal for those who have switched from a high paying field.
5. Don’t Appear Desperate or Condescending
When you’re asked by an interviewer why you want to work in IT, it’s best to focus on your love for computers and solving problems. Don’t get bogged down in a discussion about how much you need to make a career change. Instead, make it clear that you’re passionate about doing so.
Additionally, never forget that the age of the person sitting across from you during an interview isn’t what’s important. If you can’t handle the idea of working for a younger supervisor, you probably shouldn’t attempt to get into the IT field.
6. Use Your Business Connections
Were you well-regarded in your old industry? Practically every business has an IT department. This means that you can leverage your existing business relationships to help you get your foot in the door. It’s even possible that a current employer who is downsizing your department may be open to transferring you to IT.
7. Be Willing to Learn
Adaptability and a willingness to learn can take you far in any career. You may believe that asking others for tips and taking every possible training course will make you look unqualified for an IT position. However, many employers appreciate people who are always willing to keep learning and who are confident enough to ask questions rather than trying to blend in. Show an employer you have all of the basic skills and the strong desire to learn more. They’re likely to appreciate your passion about continuously improving.
It may be challenging, but making the switch to an entry-level IT position halfway through your career can also be rewarding in many ways. As an added bonus, if you acquire the proper education and apply your skills, you’ll be much less likely to end up downsized in the future.
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