As our CEO Satya Nadella has said, “in today’s world, every company is a software company.” Not to say that every company makes software, but it’s safe to say that some level of technology is embedded into most experiences we encounter on a daily basis. And as new technologies emerge, new innovations are introduced and adopted, and communications become increasingly virtual-friendly.

As a logical result, computer science and engineering degrees are increasingly sought after as a path to a reliable career—and, in fact, “the majority of the fastest growing roles on the [global jobs outlook] list are technology-related roles1,” so data supports this is indeed a career path worth pursuing. But what most people don’t realize (I know I didn’t until a few years into my career), is that tons of these technology-related jobs don’t rely on general coding skills but on technology-specific skillsets. To most people, that probably doesn’t sound like a major distinction, but what it means is that there is a large swath of technology-based roles that most standard degrees don’t prepare you for—and that most job seekers don’t even know exist. In fact, the need for technically skilled talent is so high that some employers are pivoting away from solely focusing on candidates with traditional degrees, and instead taking a skills-first approach by seeking and identifying talent with validated technical skills.  

In other words, more companies are looking for individuals that are skilled at using the technology that organizations actually run on, such as the cloud (in our case, Microsoft Azure), customer relationship management tools (in our case, Dynamics 365 CRM), communication and collaboration tools (like Microsoft 365—Excel, Teams, PowerPoint, etc.), and many more. Although we strive to make these tools valuable right out of the box for any user, the reality is that employers are using these tools in ways that consumers may not, which is why to truly maximize their benefits, organizations must hire and/or train people who specialize in their use. And that’s where you come in.

Chart your own path to career success

One of the great advantages of technical skills for job seekers is their objective nature: Your skill level falls anywhere between “unfamiliar” and “expert”—and you can demonstrate or validate those skills in a multitude of ways in conjunction with or even independent of related job experience. By developing a specific technology skillset, you set yourself apart and qualify for roles that ideally match your capabilities. You can put yourself in the driver’s seat by identifying what kind of roles you’d like to pursue, listing the skills needed to qualify, and then developing those skills through one of the many (often no-cost) available avenues.

Even better, you can start your journey now. The ability to independently acquire, demonstrate, and validate new skills sits entirely with you—more so now than at any other point in history. Whether you’ve earned a degree or have relevant experience, the industry’s hunger for skilled talent means that what you can do is more important than how you learned to do it. Of course, proving and validating your skills is critical, but how you master a specific area of technical specialization is completely up to you. For example, you’ll be able to point to labs you completed, the credentials you earned, and the portfolio of projects you created by putting your specific skills into action.

Now is your time

If you want to break into the tech industry, this is the time to do it. If you’re willing to explore and acquire a set of technical skills, you can open new worlds of possibilities. By harnessing the power of self-directed learning and leveraging the many ways to demonstrate your skillsets—you can set yourself up for a successful and meaningful career.

How do you get started? Obviously, I’m a huge fan of Microsoft Learn, which has tons of resources to help guide your path, identify the skills you need, and develop those skills through a breadth of training options and opportunities to demonstrate them in real-world scenarios. You can then showcase those skills on your resume and on social media platforms like LinkedIn, gaining the attention of (future) colleagues, potential employers, and recruiters to help land the job you want. Microsoft Learn also offers access to a community of passionate learners and experts to support and guide your journey, develop broader and deeper skills, explore emerging technologies to better position yourself for your first promotion… the list goes on. Clearly, I’m a little bit of a die-hard Microsoft Learn fan. All that said, I enthusiastically recommend you make it the first step in your independent, “choose-your-own,” learning adventure.

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs where we’ll share more resources and insights about ways to pursue your career in tech. Until then, I encourage you to check out Microsoft Learn. We know when making a career change or trying to take your career to the next level, the hardest part is figuring out where to start. With Microsoft Learn, you can easily create a profile and just begin exploring the resources we have available to help you achieve your goals and see new possibilities. 

1 Future of Jobs Report 2023 (World Economic Forum, 2023).