How To Get Into the Hot IT Sector

Even if you don't have a computer background, the industry could provide sizzling opportunities for you.

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We know, you've heard it for years now: the tech industry is on fire. But honestly, we mean it this time. Like really on fire.

In February, the overall job market that's been on a tear ground to a surprising and hopefully temporary halt. But tucked inside the numbers stood out one glaring exception: the IT sector. It added 253,000 positions, the biggest one-month gain in more than three years. That's the equivalent of creating the entire population of Lubbock, Texas, in one month.

The driving force behind all of this is the fact that tech is no longer an industry unto itself. Today, companies as disparate as a food-delivery service, a cloud-computing company, and an automaker are dipping into the same talent pool. "It used to be tech looking for these people; now it's all of these other industries converging," says Samantha Wallace, technology market leader for Korn Ferry Professional Search in North America.

Companies as disparate as a food-delivery service, a cloud-computing company, and an automaker are dipping into the same talent pool.

Of course, this creates a dilemma. Those with tech backgrounds and in-demand skills are getting the best deals out of the market, both financially and in terms of choosing the workplace environment they want. The rest of the world, meanwhile, is left wondering how to get in without knowing how to code. Below, some tips for those of us who fit into the latter category.

Look beyond job postings.

It almost sounds like we're making it up, but in some cases, companies are hiring without an actual job available. A recent Korn Ferry survey found 77% of HR professionals said they were hiring for roles that didn't even exist a year ago. And 57% of them said they've hired for a specific skill set even if there wasn't a job opening.

What does that mean? You can go well beyond job descriptions and postings, not taking them too literally. Focus more on a company's culture and goals, and the vibe you get from talking with a firm's professionals, because the role the hiring managers may be scouting you out for will most likely change by the time you come on board-or it may not even exist.

Move to Provo, Utah.

South of Salt Lake City, Provo may only have three bars in town, but don't be surprised if it's your next address. Provo is the fastest-growing tech employment market, according to a recent report from commercial real estate firm Cushman Wakefield. The number of people employed by tech companies there increased 65% from 2010 to 2018, outpacing growth in San Francisco and other more established markets. Thanks to tech giants such as research software company Qualtrics and smart-home services provider Vivint, more than 8% of all jobs in Provo are now in the technology sector.

Statisticians, step right up.

When you think of tech roles, you probably think of software engineers and coders. But two of the hottest jobs in IT right now are mathematicians and statisticians, whose demand is expected to grow 30% and 34% respectively between 2016 and 2026, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Much of the demand for these roles is to provide statistical analysis and drum up formulas crucial for any sector that's making a digital transformation. That basically means moving faster and more efficiently by "getting the right information to the right people at the right time," says Tom McMullen, senior client partner at Korn Ferry and leader of the firm's Total Rewards practice in North America.

Seek out companies that like to share.

Many tech companies are now relaxing their stance over offering their services to others, opening the floodgates for collaboration on products and going-to-market strategies, says Paul Dinan, senior client partner and global technology market advisory leader for Korn Ferry. What this means is you could find yourself partnering with Apple or Facebook, allowing you to expand your horizons and boost your network-which is paramount in today's "nomad economy," where highly skilled employees only stay in a job for an average of four years before moving on to a new professional challenge. You never know if a project collaboration could lead to your next great gig.

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