This literacy gap around tech careers is exactly what compelled us to start Earlywork as a newsletter back in September 2020.
In our journey since, we’ve uncovered a new opportunity to bring more young talent in tech.
There’s a hidden pathway that doesn’t require coding and is highly in-demand 👀
Working in tech doesn’t necessarily mean you need a technical background or technical skills. Be it marketing, design, operations, strategy, product, sales, people & talent, or customer success, there are a ton of roles where folks who don’t code can thrive.
But early-career workers outside the tech industry often aren’t applying for these roles even when they’re interested in tech.
The 3 biggest reasons why?
#1: People don’t know what roles exist
#2: People think they need technical skills
#3: People think they need a university degree, or specifically, a tech/business degree
There’s a major potential talent pool for tech employers that hasn’t yet been unlocked.
When we spoke to dozens of top startups on their early-career hiring pain points, the two most difficult roles to fill were engineering… and tech sales.
Huh? Perhaps not the role you intuitively think of when someone mentions “tech”.
But ultimately, the two core responsibilities of a tech business are to build and sell.
When you look at our data across hundreds of companies and jobseekers in the Earlywork community, sales is one of the 3 roles companies demand most from our community, yet it has the largest shortage of candidates actively seeking roles.
On the flipside, other non-technical roles like strategy & ops, product and finance have a huge oversupply of talent. Companies don’t have the same hunger to hire early-career talent in these areas.
Sales is a hidden career springboard into the tech world. Here’s why:
You get to build a deep understanding of customers
You get a strong sense of business models
You hone an interpersonal skillset with strong transferability to leadership & founder roles
When we ran our Between Work layoffs directory, sales and engineering were also two of the roles that were laid off the least.
In a market like this, a directly revenue-generating role is one of the safest places to be.
Now, software engineering is a fast-growing discipline in universities and bootcamps alike, so we’re optimistic about our ecosystem’s trajectory in reducing the gap here.
But there’s not a single university degree or formalised bootcamp that exists in Australia, New Zealand or Singapore to train people in the fundamental craft needed to land and thrive in a tech sales role.
Many of the fundamental skills needed in sales (written communication, verbal communication, customer empathy) align strongly with those already in customer-facing roles outside of tech, but a lot of these folks don’t realise that tech sales is a viable, high-growth career path within reach.
We believe upskilling workers with strong people skills in the specific craft of tech sales, and helping them connect with eager tech employers, is the most effective way to help talent break into their first tech role.
So why hasn’t university already addressed this problem?
The university model is broken for training talent into tech roles ❌
We see three core problems that inhibit university as an effective mechanism for training tomorrow’s tech talent.
#1: Business models are misaligned with employment outcomes:
With rising inflation, those ‘interest-free’ loans are becoming more and more expensive. Aussie university students are being saddled with tens of thousands in student debt for degrees that often aren’t even relevant to the role they (eventually) go into, and the chance to buy a property seems further out of reach than ever.
So where’s the accountability?
Did your university check in with you after graduating to see what job you got or what salary you were earning? Ours didn’t.
#2: Content is disconnected from industry:
The people teaching university courses in tech & business have often been out of industry for several years, or worse, have never been in industry. Oftentimes, researchers are forced to teach regardless of whether they have an interest or talent in teaching. And even with better lecturers, institutional red tape inhibits course contents being updated at the pace the industry moves.
What that results in is the all-too-common occurrence of students graduating only to realise what they learned at university has little relevance to what they do on the job.
It’s no surprise that only 57% of undergraduates who were employed full-time following university felt their qualification was important for their current employment.
Scraping a pass mark of 57% isn’t the grade you’d expect for what should be the #1 metric for universities…
And we’ve been through this personally.
Two of Earlywork’s three founders ended up stumbling into graduate roles as product managers, but we didn’t have a single product management course in university, despite it being a core role in tech.
Did your university teach you the skills you needed for your graduate role? Ours didn’t.
#3: Students left to fend for themselves on job search:
If they’re lucky, students will pick up some relevant skills from their university degree. But at the end of the day, it’s up to them to find a job.
Job search is a muscle and so many graduates leave university without a solid foundation in how to smash the application and interview process in tech.
Furthermore, because of the disconnect between universities and employers, it’s largely up to graduates to do the heavy lifting of seeking out these employers, rather than universities introducing candidates to companies.
Did your university assist you in finding a graduate role? Ours didn’t.
When you look at these three limitations, it’s clear that education and work have been disconnected for too long. We recognised we had the chance to do something different:
We’re piloting a live, cohort-based training program with a job guarantee, helping folks from a diverse range of backgrounds to turn their people skills into a tech career.
Over the course of 3 weeks beginning January 30 2023, we’ll be training our pilot cohort in a mix of tech sales fundamentals and job search skills, as well as giving them targeted introductions to top tech companies and personalised career mentoring to smash their journey to a first role in tech.
In doing so, we’re aiming to take the 3 biggest problems with university and flip them on their head:
A success-based approach to pricing 💸
By learning with Earlywork Academy, you’ll land a role in tech, guaranteed.
Yep, that’s right. If you don’t land a tech job within 6 months of graduation, you don’t have to pay.
We take a small upfront deposit to ensure a sense of commitment, but that’s fully refundable if we don’t deliver on our job guarantee.
Before the Earlywork Village even started, we had a fundamental belief that the best models of education and training should align incentives based on outcomes.
In late 2020/early 2021, we piloted a no-win, no-fee career coaching service to help people land their dream tech role.
Though we didn’t crack that initial model, we knew that there was something powerful about aligning incentives with candidates. With Earlywork Academy, we only win if you win.
A program designed alongside employers 🤝
In building our curriculum, we want to ensure we’re equipping students with the skills companies actually need.
That’s why we’re working alongside sales managers, sales enablement leaders and recruiters at leading tech companies and startups to understand what skills they’re looking for, what tools they use, and what responsibilities entry-level sales talent play in their business.
From there, we’re reverse engineering a curriculum covering the most fundamental industry needs, and blending sales theory with practical exercises to train the muscle of research, written outreach, discovery calls & more.
In how we deliver that curriculum, students will also get the chance to hear directly from guest instructors from our employer partners, and practice their sales skills in a real-world environment with our charity partners.
That way, you can be confident you’re building an industry-ready skillset.
Job search as a core part of the curriculum 💼
Job search is a core life skill that will serve you throughout your career, not just your first job.
In maximising the ease with which our students land jobs, and in setting them up for long-term career success, we’ve dedicated a full week of the program to training candidates in end-to-end job search skills, from personal branding secrets to LinkedIn reachout hacks to top interview tips.
Throughout the program and even after graduating, you’ll have access to personal job search coaching sessions with Earlywork team members to help answer tricky career questions and ensure you land a job that’s right for you.
And to make it even easier, we’ll provide you with tailored introductions to the employer partners involved in our program, fast-tracking your pathway to a tech sales role.
Think of our program as your career accelerator.
The Earlywork Academy pilot is our best bet on the future of vocational education.
Together with the social ecosystem of the Earlywork Village, we’re collectively building thedigital campus for the next generation of ambitious tech talent ✨
💡 If you know someone who’s curious about a tech job but isn’t sure whether they have the right skills to break in, forward this their way!
💼 And finally, if you know a company looking for early-career sales talent, get this across their desk. We’re committed to working side-by-side with tech companies to help them hired vetted, trained sales talent without the time sink.
But there's a fundamental part of life where OKRs have only scratched the surface... Not the way we set company and team goals, but the way we set our personal goals. 2021 was my year of experimenting with personal OKRs. This is how things went down. 👇
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We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and commit to building a brighter future together. Our team works on the country of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation in Sydney.