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How to Carve Out a Career in Tech That Aligns With Your Goals

Topics: Career Advice
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As a sector, technology is experiencing explosive growth. Last year alone, U.S. tech employment outpaced other notable segments of the economy including finance, construction, the arts, entertainment and recreation.

If you’re looking to pursue a career in tech, the burgeoning growth of the industry presents a wealth of opportunities. For many, the prospect of breaking into an industry that’s moving at warp speed is exhilarating. However, tech companies face an array of concerns related to diversity, inclusion and corporate culture.

Can Tech Fix Its Inclusion Problem?

Even without the recent discrimination scandals that have rocked the industry and the dismal diversity stats, research shows building a career in tech can be challenging for many. A recent survey conducted by showed that a quarter of U.S. workers in the technology sector felt they had been discriminated against at their current companies due to their race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation.

In the face of comprehensive criticism over recent years, tech companies across Silicon Valley and beyond have made public commitments to accelerate diversity and inclusion best practices. Over 80 tech companies signed an inclusion pledge initiated by President Obama in June of last year. The White House pledge asked tech firms to publish data each year on the demographics of their employees, to implement goals to recruit, retain and advance underrepresented talent, and to invest in programs to further develop the pipeline of diverse candidates.

The verdict is still out on the impact of various initiatives to tackle diversity and inclusion head on. In the interim, if you’re laser-focused on building a career in tech, it’s essential to do due diligence. Be proactive in doing deep-dive research into the culture of any company you are considering as an employer. It’s important to look beyond your immediate network and dig behind the headlines when assessing a new career opportunity.

Interview the Interviewers to Assess Cultural Fit

We all know that prospective employers use interviews to assess cultural fit for the team that’s hiring. As a candidate, it’s your responsibility to do the same. Trust your gut and use the interview process to assess if the corporate culture you experience as a candidate aligns with what you’re looking for from your career. Even the smallest of signals can be telling, from how the interview is scheduled to your experience when you walk through the door. First impressions matter, for an employer and for the candidate.

Connect with people who work at the company to help determine their assessment of the culture. If you don’t have a direct connection, you can still learn a lot from reviewing social media accounts for the company and key employees. Remember though, there can be a significant difference between the culture of the organization and culture of the team you work within. The two often correlate but can be also be distinct in critical areas.

If you’re at the early stage of your tech career, landing a job at a great company is likely to be your number one goal. As you continue to move forward and gather more experience it becomes easier to pinpoint the type of culture you’re best suited to. Don’t underestimate how important culture is. It can make or break how successful you are. Even the smartest and most able employees will struggle to give their all in a culture that makes them unhappy. Take time to analyze what matters to you most in your career and strive to seek out roles that align with your goals.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Boost Your Earnings With Data

When you’ve found the role that’s the perfect fit, it’s important to know your worth. Data is a powerful resource to have at your disposal to help shape your career development goals. PayScale’s new report, Tech Companies Compared, analyzes top tech employers based on compensation and employee outlook. Take time to compare salaries based on your sector, role, years of experience and location before you get to the salary negotiation stage of the interview process.

Tech companies are often seen as the barometers for the latest and greatest in corporate perks, from creative workspaces to concierge services and subsidized meals. However, if the company is the wrong fit, the aesthetics, freebies and paycheck will only go so far. If you don’t do your research, you could end up in a role that looks decent on your resume but feels horrible day to day. On the flip side, taking the time to identify the company that ticks all the boxes will help put your career on track to truly take off.

According to research led by CompTIA, the global technology association, the tech sector accounts for more than $1.3 trillion of total activity in the U.S. economy.  The growth and opportunity, coupled with a continued focus on diversity, inclusion and culture will hopefully result in unprecedented opportunities for everyone who wants to carve out a successful career in tech.

For more information on corporate culture at the country’s top tech employers, read PayScale’s report, Tech Companies Compared.

Tell Us What You Think

Tech workers, what career challenges have you faced? We want to hear from you. Tell us your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Octavia Goredema
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