How I Engineered a $130,000 a Year Career in Tech
In my new book due out in the spring of 2016 I talk about my journey from the U.S. Navy to the Information Technology sector on the civilian side. When I say “civilian”, it’s simply military jargon for the world that exists outside of the military, which is a very common term but one that some may not be familiar with.
When I left the military in 2006 I had six years of electronics and IT experience under my belt with no degree. If you are reading this and you’re wanting to make more money in the corporate sector but you don’t have military experience, don’t worry about that. There is a lot more to landing a job than just your experience.
Upon leaving the military I hired a resume writing firm to aid me in translating my military experience to something tangible that recruiters could understand in the civilian world. It costs to have someone professionally write your resume, but it’s worth every penny.
I had to sit down with the resume writer and interview with them. They needed to ask me questions in order to understand my background, my strengths, my weaknesses, and what marketable value I would have in the marketplace in helping me build a successful career.
At the time I was 26 years old, and of course I hadn’t been on an interview in forever. The thought of jumping back into the “real world” in search of work was daunting and scary, but I had help and a good idea on how to proceed.
The military does provide what’s called TAP, or Transition Assistance Program.
The program is designed to help Veterans successfully transition to the civilian side with employment, housing, education, and benefits. Of course the statistics on the numbers of homeless veterans in the U.S is staggering, and in an attempt to help vet’s leaving the service the military has various programs to help with these kinds of issues.
So now that I had my resume written to speak and play up my skill-set, now I can interview and apply for jobs!
Here is a brief overview of what I did over the years to build a six-figure career in IT:
1) You NEED a well-written, well articulated resume that narrowly focuses on the career you’re going for.
If you were to look at my resume you would see a pattern. You would see that I have a steady professional progression in job duties as I went from company to company. You would also see consistency in the types of positions, in this case–Project Management and Service Delivery. You will also notice that articulation of my duties at every position are very detailed as well as being written in such a way that industry professionals can understand. Be mindful that each industry is very different so know your industry and where the demand is. Once you have a well-written resume you can begin to get the attention of recruiters and get the phone ringing
2)Be PREPARED to sell yourself over the phone
Once the phone is ringing with recruiters wanting to speak with you about your background you have to be phone ready. You need to be able to clearly and confidently speak to every aspect of your resume and answer any questions that may come up. You have to SELL yourself on this call!
3)Prepare for an in-person interview
If you are selected for an in-person interview there are a few key things to remember here:
Speak to the objectives and goals of the organization that you are interviewing with
Dress to impress
Showcase leadership and highlight how you helped previous companies solve major problems
Showcase where you’ve helped an organization save money
Speak confidently of yourself
I started off in 2006 working in helpdesk at $15/hour. I can understand that most people aren’t interested in taking years to reach six-figures in their career but there are really only two things that can get you to that salary in the short term:
2)A very niche skill-set that is in demand
What I did from 2006 to 2014 is very strategic, I intentionally went from position to position gaining knowledge, experience, and skills that I could document on my resume. Now, this may or may not work for you. I work in the Information Technology sector so I know my industry very well and my field is one that demands experience. Experience is also articulate in the interview and since I have a great deal of knowledge in IT I can speak to it very well!
Whenever I would leave one position, I would leave with the intention of landing a more challenging position paying more money. This is all intentional. In the interview I would set a desired salary and stick to it, and I would interview with companies until I got what I wanted.
I repeated this process over the years up until now where I can confidently ask for a six-figure salary and land the offer. Of course I have over 15 years of experience in the industry, but I’m also 34 years old. I can also tell you that staying at one organization for an extended amount of time decreases your chances of hitting that six-figure mark. I find that companies are more willing to bring someone from the outside in, then promoting someone within the organization.
All in all, this strategy works because I’ve done it.
I was recently offered a position by a company over the phone with a starting salary of $130,000 a year. I turned the position down to take another position with the Government but during that time I simply took interview calls until I found the position that I wanted.
Be clear about what you want, and take action!