A five-step guide to making a career switch to Tech

Tech recruitment expert Sachet Sethi of Robert Walters shares his advice for those looking to make a mid-career switch to the sector.

By Sachet Sethi | 8 Sep 2022

Sachet Sethi is manager of technology and transformation at recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Singapore.

Everything in the world around us is moving in the direction of digitalisation: businesses most of all. 

Companies used to consider tech as an operational cost. Now initiatives in automation and data science are considered opportunities, because they can help businesses make better decisions and achieve greater results. This is a massive mindset change, and it has generated exciting new job roles and career pathways. 

Why switch to tech

Demand for tech talent has soared to the extent that the number of tech roles we are filling at Robert Walters has approximately tripled since pre-COVID days. The scarcity of experienced candidates has meant that clients have had to exercise more flexibility in assessing applicants based on hard skill sets and place more weight upon their motivation and potential instead. 

Such a competitive hiring market has also opened up possibilities for more candidates to make mid-career transitions and seize opportunities in the burgeoning tech sector. 

There are paid AI apprenticeships and Python programming courses to welcome career switchers into those respective fields. Last year, Robert Walters ran a two-month cybersecurity programme that trained 15 Singaporean professionals and placed them in new roles with our clients. 

While some are coming into tech from entirely unrelated sectors, others are expanding their skills within their current industry – exploring automation in finance or supply chain, for instance. Making the switch isn’t always easy or straightforward, but here are some key considerations that could guide you in the right direction. 

A five-step guide to switching to tech

Identify your tech pursuit
Before looking at alternative careers, evaluate your current job satisfaction. This helps you identify the kind of role you’re after and which area of tech you are interested in.

Do a SWOT analysis on the prospective new role to get a sense of the amount of risk or investment the switch requires. My recommendation is usually to start off with a role that isn’t purely technical – like project manager or business analyst – to see how well you take to tech.
Look for internal opportunities
Another way to ease the transition is to look within your organisation for opportunities to explore tech rather than jump ship altogether, which might lead to an entry-level reset.

Amid the Great Resignation wave, there is great emphasis on employee retention right now, so companies have become more open to employees’ interests – perhaps helping them upgrade their skills, integrating new responsibilities into their role, or letting them transfer into a new one.
Acquire the necessary skills
Whether through a structured course at a school or via self-study, a switch to tech will require you gain new skills and knowledge.

Popular certifications include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure for cloud computing, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) for cybersecurity, Project Management Professional (PMP) for project management, and Tableau or Power BI for data analytics.
Join a tech community
Registering on a platform like GitHub plugs you into a like-minded community that can offer feedback on your work and advice based on their personal experiences. Joining networks such as the Singapore Global Network is also helpful in connecting to tech communities all around the world.

Your accumulated projects also serve as a demonstration of your newly acquired skills and proficiencies, which you can use in lieu of a portfolio when applying for roles.
Keep the passion alive
Passion is a critical determiner of how long you will last in tech, especially if the switch involves a slide down the corporate ladder. During the jobseeking process, look for employers that hire on potential, drive and attitude. And be prepared to never stop learning. Switchers into tech should have an open mind and be motivated to continually upgrade their knowledge and adapt to new changes.

Consider Singapore for your next career move

Here in Singapore, the government is vigorously driving digital transformation. Its RIE2025 plan lays out ambitions for the city-state to become a trusted digital innovation hub and achieve its Smart Nation objectives through technological advancement. 

At the same time, the country has opened its doors to multinational companies that are looking to expand into the region – including giants like Twitter, PayPal, Tencent and ByteDance – and encouraged the formation of tech startups through various grants and accelerator programmes

The introduction of the work visa Tech.Pass in late 2021 is facilitating the entry of senior tech professionals, especially as international borders open up again. These industry veterans will be able to bring in best practices from other global tech hubs, uplift the local talent pool and help raise up the next generation of tech leadership. 

Across a diverse tech landscape, there are five areas that are currently seeing high growth: 

  • AI and data analytics, as companies seek greater automation and richer insights 
  • Cybersecurity, answering the need to protect our overflowing data against malicious attacks 
  • DevOps, where roles help to bridge the gap between infrastructure and applications 
  • Software development, to consistently build new mobile and web-based applications 
  • 5G, with the emergence of Singapore’s islandwide 5G network and related startups 

As a growing number of disruptive fields like robotics and green tech emerge, career opportunities in tech are continuing to increase and diversify. 

Your decision should be informed, not impulsive

At the end of the day, make sure you’re making an informed decision, not just jumping onto the tech bandwagon. 

You should be surveying a wide range of resources to aid your decision-making. Find a mentor through a company programme or an open platform, and try to speak to insiders to find out the ins and outs of working in the sector. Attend webinars or meetups to glean insights and advice, and monitor portals like MyCareersFuture and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) for trends and opportunities.  

Of course, be sure to reach out to recruitment consultants, like myself, who can offer advice on your next step forward and what will best serve your career goals. 

I’ve worked across different geographies – Australia, UK, India – but Singapore has been my longest stint because I feel there’s so much this country can offer in the tech and innovation scene. It’s an exciting field to be in, for sure, one where you’ll be discovering something new each day in a ceaselessly evolving environment.  

About Robert Walters

Since 1985, Robert Walters has been on a mission to be the world’s leading specialist professional recruitment consultancy, powering people and organisations to fulfil their unique potential. Today, the global business operates in a diverse range of markets and is relied upon by the world’s leading businesses. 

About Sachet

Sachet is the manager of technology and transformation at Robert Walters Singapore. He has over eight years of experience in tech recruitment. 

Connect with him here

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