My career path is somewhat untypical. I switched into IT from another field. My first position in IT was a managerial one straight away. (The position is between business and IT but more on the IT side).

I mainly deal with technology X, which I know very well, but more on the high level. I.e. I know what can be done with it. I'm able to evaluate different options and chose the best one. I'm able to follow technical discussions among my team members and point the direction they should go. I do code reviews from time to time and I'm normally able to pinpoint where problems can lie.

However, not really to solve them myself quickly.

I've done some programming myself, but not that much and there are people who are much better in this respect than me. My main strength is seeing the big picture, being very analytical and logical - and the ability to design X in a way that perfectly reflects business needs. Basically, I'm a good PM, but I lack technical skills. I get excellent feedback on my team's performance.

Now I need to search for a new job and I find it difficult, since most managerial positions in X require very good technical knowledge of X (e.g. I just came across a position that requires you to be "master on programming in X").

I can't say I have it and I wouldn't like to make an idiot of myself if I'm invited to an interview and given a coding test.

On the other hand, developing the technical skills would take me months if not years. Also, I wouldn't like to go back and start with a junior position. In my career so far, I've proved I'm a good PM and boss.

How to deal with the lack of technical skills when applying for jobs related to X?

  • 4
    Either look for jobs without this requirement or learn the skills required to get the jobs with it. There isn't really another option here. Possibly related: Is it critical that you meet every requirement of a job you're applying for? – Bernhard Barker May 26 '19 at 7:59
  • "My main strength is seeing the big picture". I'm extremely strong at seeing the big picture, but I'm even stronger at getting the big picture actually implemented. "Big picture seers" are ten a penny. – gnasher729 May 26 '19 at 11:33
  • @gnasher729, are there? Would you mind sending me contact details to some of them? I'm currently recruiting for some positions and finding professionals with enough structure, perspective (in order not to waste time focusing on insignificant stuff in a high-paced environment) and human skills is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Of course everybody believes to be the strategy person, but the reality shows most are horrible at the big picture. – BigMadAndy May 26 '19 at 11:46
  • I think you're reading too much into the characterization "master of ...". A lot of STEM people have the same problem. They take phrases in things like job descriptions and contracts at face-value, literally, and assume that these are hard-requirements. In reality, almost nothing is a "hard requirement". If you are applying for a managerial position, you don't have to be a "hit-the-ground-running" expert programmer. You can almost certainly trade-off platform expertise for expertise in management and problem-solving. Don't waste time learning PHP or whatever, unless thats what you intend to do – teego1967 May 26 '19 at 12:18
  • A PM position should not need technical skills at all. Most developers make horrible PMs and would not want to switch. Maybe you are looking at the wrong jobs? – nvoigt May 27 '19 at 6:01

As @Dukeling said in a comment, you have a few options:

  • Skill up
  • Look for jobs that don't ask for these skills
  • Attend the interview and be prepared to do poorly on any coding component, and hope you can otherwise win them over

It can be quite difficult to write a job posting, and many companies will look at existing employees for guidance. It's a sad reality that many of the best coders become (okay) managers, so that is probably the template that are going off, even though it may not actually make sense for the role.

It never hurts to apply, but be sure that you are very clear about your limited programming expertise. Ensure you highlight you good qualities. Maybe they will rethink what they are looking for in a candidate, but I would act as soon as possible.

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