Gabriel Nam is associate director of marketing and digital at Michael Page. He has almost 10 years of recruitment experience in Hong Kong, as well as international exposure in Europe and Asia, managing teams of consultants across various industries.
Can I use my IT skills to change industries in Hong Kong?
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in IT last year and have since been working for an IT company as a developer. However, I’m not actually interested in IT, though, and only studied it because my parents thought it would be a good industry to get into. Although I want a career change, Now I’m anxious about my career as I don’t want to waste all the skills I’ve learned. Are there any sort of non-IT jobs or industries that I can target that have similar skills or competency requirements to IT? Or should I consider study a master’s degree in an area I’m more interested in?
Your situation is tricky and unfortunate one in the sense that you are not too passionate about the IT field but have somehow invested a number of years in it already. However, but you have options. Should you go for an MA or MBA, you may want to target prestigious schools, or disciplines that are broad and business-related (such as an MBA). Candidates who do so have a higher chance of changing fields successfully, due to their academic training and networks.
If you decide not to pursue a master’s degree, your IT skill set will still be valuable in pushing you forward into another career. I run digital recruitment in Hong Kong and, given the limited talent pool, we often see companies hiring candidates who have strong IT backgrounds for roles in e-commerce and digital project management. Other areas include UX (user experience) and data analytics or modelling, where some programming experience is needed.
However, you would need to spend time developing soft skills, strong common sense, such as great presentation skills and good business acumen, as many IT candidates are perceived to be weaker in these areas.
Perhaps luckily, you have only worked in the IT field for a year, so it should be relatively easy to switch fields. Your salary level is likely not too high and employers are generally receptive to grooming and moulding relatively fresh entrants to the working world. If you are really keen on making the change, try to do it as early as possible and stay open-minded.
No matter which role or industry you pursue, your IT skills will be useful at some point. There is often a need for professionals who can bridge the gap between the technical side of a business (such as IT or engineering) and the non-technical side (such as sales and marketing).
If you opt to remain in IT, you can move to a larger organisation that offers greater mobility or opportunities. Should you perform well, you stand a good chance of shifting to a more commercial and non-technical role.
As mentioned above, however, you’ll need to develop your soft skills and business sense. Tips for doing so include staying abreast of your respective industry news and trends, furthering your studies, and getting involved in some cross-functional projects at work.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Can I use my IT skills to change industries?