Craig Allen is Director at niche technology staffing firm Nigel Frank International. He has over a decade’s worth of experience in IT recruitment, having graduated from Newcastle University in 2007.
As you reach the end of several years of hard work, the reality of finding employment is probably starting to kick in. Do you need to specialise further? Are there enough jobs in your chosen field? Do you even want to do it now?
It’s a dilemma that faces soon-to-be-graduates, as worries manifest over how to start earning a good wage in a secure environment.
Often, what seemed a viable career option four years ago may not be as straightforward now that the talent pool has been flooded, and your chosen industry is much more competitive.
Rather than panic, this could be the perfect opportunity to take stock of the options ahead of you.
If you still have the fire and desire to succeed in your chosen field, then your decision will be much simpler. But, if you are having second thoughts, then technology may provide you with a viable career path as you look towards the end of your academic life.
The industry is an incredibly exhilarating place to be right now. Think about your own life and the part technology plays in it: no matter your age, you will rely on digital solutions more and more in your day-to-day life.
Whether that’s switching your television viewing to streaming platforms such as Netflix, or paying bills online, these simple changes rely on new platforms and constant innovation.
Our world is moving towards one where technology is the dominant force, and the ability to play a part in shaping this is exciting.
And it’s not just you that’s reliant on technology. Businesses are focused on increasing their use too, from employing bespoke software to streamline internal processes for maximum efficiency, to making customer data more secure by using cloud storage solutions.
All of this requires skilled talent, and as the need for that has exploded in the last decade, there’s a critical shortage at present that shows no signs of improving.
Businesses are in desperate need of workers with the right knowledge to fill the skills gap, meaning employers aren’t holding all the cards when it comes to finding solutions.
Talented graduates are an appealing way to address the issue, and this need for adaptable, digitally savvy people gives you the chance of a lucrative career straight out of the blocks.
Is it secure?
Absolutely. The demand for technology from a consumer point of view simply won’t slow down. If I offered you a mobile phone with less capability on it, would you accept?
Even if it offered you a huge cost saving, my hunch is that you’d say no. We’re in an era where a new smartphone costs £1,000 – that’s the value we place on tech, and it’s not a flash in the pan.
People are becoming more reliant on technology in almost every single industry, from sales to medicine. Even traditional sectors such as construction are embracing this new way of working.
The global shift towards digital solutions is becoming the new normal, giving you job security for decades to come.
The World Economic Forum has predicted that at least 133 million new jobs related to tech will be created around the world by 2022.
That will cover a huge myriad of technologies, with limitless opportunity to travel. Coding, for example, is a universal language (although you may need to be able to speak the native tongue as well). If you can do it in Brixton, you can do it in downtown San Francisco—you will be armed with a skillset that’s in demand around the world.
What’s in it for me?
While we all want job satisfaction and the perfect work-life balance, remuneration will always play a part. That’s likely why you’ve dedicated this portion of your life to study; to put you in the best position to earn a higher salary once you finish university.
With talent in high demand, professionals working in tech can negotiate a much higher pay than the national average. The average wage for graduates in the UK is around £19,000; this rises to £30,000 for those in tech, with a usual salary for experienced professionals of £50,000.
Not only that, but the benefit packages offered to attract workers tend to be favourable too. We interview tech professionals on an annual basis to find out what it’s really like working in niche technology ecosystems, and in the process, we see first-hand the sort of perks that employers are putting in place to land the best talent.
This year, we found that two-thirds of those working with cloud platform Microsoft Azure spent at least one day working from home, with 9% spending the entire week based remotely. Homeworking is a highly-valued benefit and more and more employers are offering that flexibility as the battle for tech talent intensifies.
With higher-than-average salaries, great benefits that provide an optimal work-life balance, and job security that very few industries can offer, it’s no wonder that tech is seen as such a lucrative career option for those who may not have considered it previously.
But my degree is in…
Of course, the initial worry will be that you’re totally unfamiliar with the industry. You might be wondering if your degree contains enough transferable skills. Thankfully, being able to demonstrate a desire and ability to learn may well be enough to get you in the door.
Over a quarter of the professionals, we questioned for our salary survey hadn’t even studied at a college level, which is a high number of people being able to forge a career without being held back by a lack of industry-specific qualifications.
It would be insincere to suggest that you can just walk into an interview for a Developer’s job with a degree in archaeology and a smile; there’s more to it than that. You need to be trying to get some experience. That can come from self-study, or trying to learn in a real-world environment.
Many non-profits, for example, will have software that has been donated to them, without a team who can really take advantage of this and implement it. Look to your local voluntary organisations to see if there’s a way you can contribute and get hands-on.
This experience, coupled with your ability to learn a subject at university, will stand you in good stead when looking at tech jobs. An interview isn’t just about who has the longest list of accomplishments on a CV, it’s about establishing a culture fit and whether you have the right personality that the organisation is looking for.
Given how fast things change in tech, a hunger to learn and track record of adapting to new situations will often trump skills taught in a classroom.
There’s no getting away from the fact that tech won’t be the perfect choice for every graduate. When things go wrong they need an immediate fix, which means problem-solvers who can think clearly under pressure will naturally thrive in the role more than others.
The flip side means that if you fit the bill, you’ll be much in demand. You’ll be rewarded with a great salary and benefits that allow you to have a fantastic work-life balance.
As new platforms and technologies emerge you’ll have transferable skills, and your experience will only make you more valuable as you have a greater appreciation of how to come to terms with new innovations.
You may have seen viable career options appear and disappear in the short time you’ve been studying—the good news is that technology is here to stay, offering you a fantastic career option if you choose to pursue it.