Stop apologizing for your Pre-IT work history!

Do you find yourself explaining away or even hiding you non-IT work history? Do you feel ashamed by it, as if you were inadequate somehow for not “seeing the light”? You don’t have to be! I’ll show you here how you can be proud of your past career and leverage it, especially if you’re just getting into IT.

Someone needs to say it: You need to stop apologizing for the work you did before you were in IT. It is a legitimate part of you past. It helped make you who you are, and it gave you the tools you need to be better at IT. I’ll show you how to work through this and use it. Here we go.

I know the feeling of regret.

Some of my peers been in IT- professionally- since they were 18 or younger. If I’d started then, I would have been in IT for 15 years. You can get quite a skillset- and a high price tag- in that time. I know how it feels to wish I could change things.

I sometimes wish I’d just bitten the bullet and went to school for IT, but to be honest, I was broke at 18. I would likely have taken a bunch of school debt then, which I would not have been comfortable with. Then I think about the fact that degrees in IT really don’t matter- only your people skills, business sense, and technical savvy.

I didn’t get into IT until I was 32 years old. Guess what? The guys my age that have always been in IT are a lot farther along than me. I often feel pangs of regret over not getting in early in my working life. I accept those regrets, but then let them go and move on. You can too.

I'm ok

You can’t change the past.

Unless you have a Delorean with a Flux Capacitor, you can’t go back to the past and change anything. Your past, good or bad, it part of who you are. You don’t have to deny it- those events did happen- but you also don’t need to be defined by it.

Humans have the unique ability to reinvent themselves because we are products of choice. You reinvented yourself when you changed to an IT career. You can keep doing it as well. Forget about the past.

I give you permission to be OK with your working past!

Your past jobs were probably not mistakes.

As we grow up and start working, many of us take jobs based on need- a need to make money. It made sense for you to take that weird job back then. You took jobs and got into fields because, at the time, and to the best of your knowledge, it was the right thing for you.You can use your pre-IT experience.

How liberating would it be if I told you that you needed to do the work you did previously? You needed to go through the experiences to position you uniquely in the IT marketplace.

I’ve sold machining lubricants, worked at Office Depot, led a sales team in a call center, assembled office furniture, sold on Amazon- was a security guard (for one night). I don’t really care if you were a professional dancer, worked at Kinko’s, or fried hot wings at Hooters before you got into IT. You’re here now. It’s your time to show us what you can do.

It helped you become who you are.

Having a varied experience is not a bad thing. Here’s the crazy part- it’s actually a great thing!

IT can be a hard industry to work in. Long and sometimes weird hours, little recognition (unless it’s broken), and having to deal with the occasional jerk tends to take a toll. By doing other things before IT, you can work out how to deal with these issues. You can know what it’s like to have to deal with Grumpy IT™, which can help you empathize better with others. All of those things are assets to you in your IT career.

You can look back on that time and appreciate the lessons you got paid to learn. Not too bad!

I give you permission to be OK with your working past!

It will help you if you frame it properly.

I see too many IT workers and job seekers hiding their work history. While it’s true that you probably don’t need to list every job you’ve done in the last 20 years, you shouldn’t hide your previous experience outside of the IT field.

Did you do sales, or own a business? You know about how businesses work, and that downtime costs money. Were in you in the service industry? You probably know how to treat people well and respond to their needs. Mistakes? Liabilities? I think not.

When working your resume, you should be skillful about how you use this history. For instance, if you flipped burgers when you were 16 but are now 34, it’s probably not necessary to include it. However, if you worked in customer service right before seeking an IT job, you can and should leverage that. That won’t be an issue, especially for entry level.

If you were in sales, you can showcase how you are an expert listener, and don’t diagnose before you prescribe solutions. Those kinds of things definitely belong in your executive summary.

If you look at it properly, your past work history is not a problem.

Have you spun a wacky job experience in an IT job interview? Comment below and let me know.

Also, if you want to make sure you get this content as soon as it drops, please sign up for the email newsletter at the top or top right of the screen! You can also connect with me on Twitter, Linkedin or FaceBook.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.