11 Mistakes to Avoid While Starting a Career in Tech

While some specific mistakes can ruin a promising tech career, many of the bad choices observed are common across professionals in all fields. In this article, we take a look at the 11 most common mistakes that potentially slow the progression of a tech career.

11 mistakes to avoid while starting a career in tech

Avoid these 11 common career-killing mistakes in the tech industry. From job role focus to portfolio building, online presence, networking, and self-doubt, learn how to navigate your tech career successfully.

A career in technology today seems to be exploding with opportunities and excitement.

However, even in a high-demand sector like technology, there is still a possibility of professionals making poor decisions that can possibly harm their careers.

While some specific mistakes can ruin a promising tech career, many of the bad choices observed are common across professionals in all fields.

In this article, we take a look at the 11 most common mistakes that potentially slow the progression of a tech career and suggest measures to remedy them.

Not focussing on a specific job role

You have been applying for every job that you find yourself eligible for with the hope that your finely crafted resume will finally get you one step closer. But barring a few times you end up hitting a brick wall.

Where does the problem lie?

One of the biggest reasons that keep young tech aspirants from landing a job that kickstarts their career is their tendency to go after every job role available out there.

There is no harm in being highly ambitious about delivering in each of these capacities. But in order to start in tech it is advised to focus on a specific role and get better at the skills that would promote better performance in that job role. It is essential to understand that breaking into the tech field requires a targeted job search strategy prioritising learning and skill development. Rather than spreading yourself thin across various roles, pinpoint the area that genuinely aligns with your interests and strengths. By doing so, you can channel your energy into becoming an expert in that role, making yourself a more attractive candidate to potential employers.

It is important to note here that in order to break through into a career in tech it is important to be singular in your job search approach and prioritise the abilities to learn. In the fast-paced world of technology, employers seek candidates who can bring specialised skills and expertise to the table. By focusing your efforts on a specific job role and committing to continuous learning and skill enhancement, you'll increase your chances of securing that coveted entry-level position and thriving and advancing in your tech career.

Not building hard skills or proof of work

This is one of the biggest mistakes an aspiring techie can make while hunting for a tech job.

Proof of work is something that lets others know all the great things someone can do. Proof of work is of prime importance when it comes to creating real concrete evidence and proving credibility in terms of skills acquired.

It says all the important things about its creator’s abilities.

A recruiter can just have a look at a portfolio and get a fair idea of all the good things a job applicant has done, thus giving them an idea of everything they bring to the table. Building an attractive portfolio is most important for job seekers in the tech industry. Your portfolio is a repository of your projects and achievements, offering a comprehensive view of your skills and contributions. It acts as a window into your capabilities, making it easier for recruiters to gauge what you bring to the table.

So go build your portfolio. NOW!

One effective way of doing that is by creating projects on GitHub. Here, you can host your projects and take them to a level of depth and complexity that demonstrates your expertise. It is advised here to take these projects to sufficient levels of depth of complexity.

We would recommend adding components such as unit testing, and lean and effective documentation. Every tiny detail such as a directory structure matters when it comes to building evidence.

Not using work done on side projects as an experience

How do I get a job if I don’t have any experience?

How do I build experience if I don’t get any job?

This is a vicious loop most of us have found ourselves stuck in at various points in our life.

Freelancing can be the answer to all the questions.

Even though the house remains divided over whether or not freelancing work counts as experience.

We are not here to pick up a side and add to the forever-raging debate.

We are here to tell you about the importance of freelance work experience and clear the dilemma surrounding the use of freelance work as experience on a resume.

Freelancer experience may or may not add up as experience on your resume but it can surely make it shine with all the transferable skills it brings to the table.

Freelance work can demonstrate high productivity only if someone goes down into specifics.

These specifics might make you look as good as the job role or even better, you never know.

Whether you did contract work for a big tech company or a startup just stick it up on your resume.

Not tailoring the interview approach

A lot of people go about appearing for different job interviews and treat all of them the same irrespective of the different types of roles and organisations in question.

This might work once in a blue moon but in a long run, techies should aim to tailor their approach depending on the job roles & responsibilities, the organisation in question as well as its background.

For example, while appearing for big tech companies that have established themselves as the place to be for techies, it is advised to gain in-depth knowledge in DSA (Data Structures and Algorithms).

But as soon as we come down to a company that is relatively smaller in size, the interview process becomes less stringent and as such might require candidates to focus on knowledge of core programming languages.

In such situations, they can think about reverse engineering the hiring process.

Tech aspirants can ace these interviews by answering questions such as

  • What does this employer want from me? &
  • How can I showcase that?

When it comes to interviews irrespective of whether it is an interview for a small tech startup or a big giant, it is excruciatingly important to provide before asking.

In layman’s terms the probability of people being hired for jobs increases if they create a value proposition in which companies see something for themselves.

Not having an online presence

In today’s day and age when almost everybody has some sort of a personal brand in place it would go down as something that is absolutely eccentric specially in tech.

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn can provide exposure to other people in tech or other potential recruiters.

According to the 2022 survey conducted by EarthWeb, there are 58 million companies listed on the platform, and 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to scout new employees.

LinkedIn can thus prove to be a good platform for young tech aspirants to display their skills and get hired.

There are many other websites that can propel your career to new heights but LinkedIn has to be the important one because of the sheer network and the possibilities it brings with itself. It allows you to create a professional online presence and facilitates networking, knowledge sharing, and access to a vast pool of job opportunities, making it an indispensable asset in the journey towards a successful tech career. By harnessing the power of platforms like LinkedIn and actively participating in the digital landscape, tech aspirants can significantly amplify their visibility and credibility within the tech community and beyond.

Not investing a lot of time in creating a good portfolio

You have your resume ready, neat, tidy, and intact with all the necessary information that summarises your skills and abilities and you have been applying for jobs like crazy only to see your resume disappear in the big black hole we call the Internet.

We're willing to wager that it's not because you lack qualifications or are simply insufficient (which, for the record, you are good enough). It's probably because one or more fatal errors are being brought on by resume mistakes.

Even the most seasoned professionals are prone to making mistakes on their resumes.

You only have six seconds to "wow" a recruiter. Your resume serves as your first point of contact with a potential employer, so you want to make a great first impression by demonstrating how awesome you are at what you do. That is how you land an interview, and after you nail it, a job.

Not asking for referrals

With social media channels such as LinkedIn gaining prominence, the importance of networking in this day and age has lost prominence.

There is no doubt in the fact that LinkedIn helps people not just find but get hired for great jobs and it will keep on doing so but it is important to keep in mind that it is not the only medium to obtain jobs, there are other modes that exist.  

Family, friends, that one person you met at networking, almost everyone can turn out to be a potential driver of success when it comes to hunting for that first job or any job for that matter.

LinkedIn can definitely help people start their careers and it will keep on doing so but as people advance in their careers they build connections and these connections are actually the ones that pave the way for landing senior job roles.

Thus we would like to set this in stone- “If you know someone who can help you get ahead in your career be shameless and ask for a referral. Don’t hesitate”. You never know where you might end up.

But, prior to asking for referrals, build a good rapport, and let them know about your skills and capabilities.

Even if they have the faintest of ideas about these they might be able to bring in their own connections in actions and help you get ahead.

Being Too Picky

A very common mistake people make at the beginning of their careers is being too picky.

With great skills come greater levels of expectancy from a job that is natural.

Everyone from aspiring techies to experienced professionals has a certain level of expectations from a job and this is where they get picky with jobs.

The problem arises when people start being too picky in their job hunt.

It is common for techies to aspire for a job where bank accounts get heavier by six figures on the 1st of every month, but it is also essential to not get obsessed with the idea of cracking interviews at dream tech companies.

Young techies can always go for the next best job available that meets a certain level of expectations and is aligned with everything they do best.

Don’t push away the opportunities that do not pay as much as desired.

These opportunities might prove to be the one that lands you that coveted job.

In essence, while aiming high is commendable, maintaining a degree of flexibility and openness to diverse opportunities can be a prudent strategy for building a successful tech career. The unexpected paths often lead to the most rewarding destinations in the dynamic and ever-evolving tech industry.

Thinking “I am not good enough”

People always think they are not good enough to do something. If you are someone who thinks like this then this is the time you stop doing this. It is essential to break free from this mindset. You are actually good at what you are supposed to do. Each of us possesses unique talents and capabilities waiting to be unleashed.

You are good for graphics designing, web designing, app development, and many other things.

So if there is a job that matches your skill set apply for it without any second thought. Go for the interviews and see what positive comes out of it. Don't let self-doubt deter you from applying or attending interviews. Remember, every interview is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. Even if you don't secure the position, you'll gain valuable experience and feedback to guide your future endeavours.

Believe in yourself and your abilities. Replace the negative mantra of "I am not good enough" with the empowering affirmation, "I am capable, and I am ready to succeed." Your journey towards self-assurance and achievement starts with acknowledging your worth and taking those bold steps towards your dreams.

Not contributing to Open-Source

When it comes to programmers, open-source contributions are a crucial determinant of the kind of knowledge they possess, and how willing they are towards contributing with that knowledge in a team setting.

Hence, open source contributions are a great way to kick off a great career in tech and this is because of the fact that open source work is public i.e., visible to everyone and open to contributions from everyone.

Big tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, Meta, etc, make a lot of their projects available to the mass public opening up the gates for young aspiring techies to contribute and get noticed by recruiters and become part of a larger community that can lead them to good or even better jobs.

So, go ahead. Find out different open source communities that are working on interesting problems, be a part of them, and show them what you got on a daily basis (even if it is just 10 lines of code).

Consistent open-source contributions can set you up for a great career.

Not having a mentor

Do your work but always have a mentor beside yourself to guide you whenever you run into any issue with anything or correct you when you go wrong.

That is the key characteristic of a good mentor. Not having a mentor can significantly hinder one's professional journey, especially in the ever-evolving tech industry. While self-motivation and independence are valuable traits, the guidance and wisdom of a mentor can be invaluable. The essence of a great mentor lies in their willingness to share their experiences, offer constructive feedback, and empower you to reach your full potential. They serve as a guiding light, illuminating the path towards success and personal growth.

Go find a good mentor in case you haven’t done that already. They will help you throughout your tech journey.

While making mistakes in one's career is common, knowing how to spot the serious ones and avoiding them can make all the difference between making and breaking your career.

This article was aimed at spreading awareness about a few of those major mistakes young techies make that in many cases put a full spot on their careers even before it starts. We hope this article added value and made you aware of the roads that must be avoided at all costs to ensure a successful and long-lasting career.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I avoid common career mistakes in the tech industry?

Answer: To avoid common tech career mistakes, focus on a specific job role, build a strong portfolio, use freelance work as experience, tailor your interview approach, and believe in your abilities.

Is having an online presence important for a tech career?

Yes, maintaining an online presence, especially on platforms like LinkedIn, is crucial. It helps you network, share knowledge, and access job opportunities, enhancing your tech career prospects.

Why should I consider open-source contributions in my tech career?

Open-source contributions showcase your skills and teamwork, making you more visible to potential employers. They can open doors to better tech job opportunities and a thriving career.