There is a myth that to have a career in technology, you need to be a techie with a degree in physics, artificial intelligence, engineering or something similar. Well, I am here to bust that myth!
Anyone interested in tech can develop a successful career in the tech industry. And there are so many different roles in tech companies that offer options for everyone.
This is for employers to think about too. There’s no point complaining that you struggle to recruit diverse teams if you insist that everyone has the same experience for each role. Do people really need a tech degree? Or can they learn about it in the role? If you want diverse teams, you need to re-think the criteria you are insisting on for each role and take a good look at your communications when you are hiring.
Here are some thoughts for employers and employees about why you don’t need to be a techie for a tech career.
I have sold all different types of technology for over 20 years. I have sold electronic security systems, passport issuing systems, biometric technology, magnetrons and thyratrons (yes…real words!) to several different types of software and services. The common thread around all those products and solutions is the same as it is for all businesses. They solve problems for people and deliver value to them. To sell those things effectively is all about understanding those problems and their value.
The skill of a salesperson and a marketing person in tech industries is to understand the problems and then the value and benefits of that product or service. A successful sales or marketing person will be able to understand those things and communicate them in a way that people understand. And guess what? None of that requires a degree in technology.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked how I sell technology if I’m not a technical expert? Or do I have a science degree? Or am I a software developer? The answer to all of those questions is no. (I actually studied English Literature).
Interestingly, not being a techie means I can sell technology effectively. The art of a salesperson is to be able to understand what the technology does, what problems it solves, and explain it clearly to people in a language they will understand. It’s about figuring out how the technology can help a business to solve their problems, save them time and make them more money.
This translates to other roles too. Someone working in Finance, in HR, in customer services, or in support does not need to be a technical expert. They need to have an interest in tech. They need to be able to understand the tech. And they need to be able to explain it to other people.
In many companies, the reason these roles only attract those with certain backgrounds and experience is down to communication. Too often acronyms, jargon and technical terms are used. And only people with deep technical knowledge will understand them. If your software does something that helps people in some way, then describe that in the job ad. Not the complicated technical terminology. Sell people the vision of what your brand is about. And show them how inclusive you are as an employer and in your teams.
And for candidates, don’t be afraid of the technology. Don’t filter out roles in tech without first looking at what the company does. If you can look at their website and understand what they do, then you can work there.
If you see the use of jargon and complicated technical language, then ask for further information. And if you are reviewing a job ad for a role in your company, give people feedback if they have made the description too complicated. It’s only by doing this that we will make roles more accessible for people.
The main thing is for companies to put themselves in other people’s shoes. To think about the readability of the job ad. To think about the language they use in interviews. And to think about the clarity of the message in all the communication.
And use stories. Use them every step of the way. If you produce technology, tell people about how it is used. Tell the story of how it was developed. The story of the first success. Use stories to tell people how they fit into all of this. How will this role develop that story? What part will someone play in the journey?
This goes for candidates too. Prepare in advance so you can tell your stories. A powerful story will grab people’s attention in the interview. Engage people, show them you have understood the application of their tech. And be honest about how much you understand that tech. You’re not expected to be an expert at this early stage.
Instead of technology being a barrier to entry, re-think how you talk about it. The real value and marketing attributes of any technology are how much people can understand and use it. If that’s how you think about your recruitment, you will appeal to a wider demographic of people. What you create is solutions to problems. Technology is the by-product of all of that, so stop making it central to your conversations.
And if you want help to make your recruitment more inclusive, we have a training course on Inclusive Recruitment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org