“Sorry, I’m Not Technical”
Why this line is becoming less acceptable in the Marketing space
So you’re an in-betweener; working a Technical Marketing role, as some sort of Digital Analyst or maybe you’re a Sales Engineer — emphasis on the Sales.
A new, collaborative project has just crossed your desk — perhaps you need to get a product demo ready for a sales pitch, or you’re implementing a new tool that’s going to help augment your content strategy.
Working alongside you on this project are numerous other individuals — adults, if you will — all with impressive CVs built on multiple-years worth of experience in the tech industry.
You’re divvying up the work — your plate is full of course because you’re an arbitrarily defined ‘Technical Resources’ — and you ask one of these other adults if they can do a bit of product setup or documentation digging.
And they hit you with a variation of:
“Sorry, I’m not technical — despite my years of experience working in the tech industry I cannot in-fact use google, watch a youtube tutorial, comprehend product documentation or navigate a software UI. How about I just act as a project-lead? Does that suit?”
By now, you’ve probably picked up on the subtly condescending tone I’ve chosen to adopt when describing these nameless individuals.
This might lead you to ask — so what? What’s wrong with not being technical? And of course, there isn’t anything wrong with it; it’s also admirable to hold up your hands and admit when you don’t have the required skills to complete a task — something easier said than done in the professional world.
I really can sympathise or, rather I could — If I wasn’t also bricking it, thinking to myself:
“How the fuck am I going to get this matrix-code piece of software to do what I want it to?”
Honestly, If you’ve ever been given a new tool to work with and your first instinct isn’t to immediately go “shit, shit, shit, shit” then my hat goes off to you.
In the digital age though — especially if you work in the tech industry — saying “Sorry, I’m not technical” isn’t quite my tempo.
Now admittedly, I’ve had a head start — I hold a bachelors in Computer Science.
But a world-beating Computer Scientist I am not.
Whilst studying I even flirted with the idea of switching across to English Lit. and going the journalism route (a passing dream that I still entertain by writing snarky articles on Medium that get tens of views) but I digress.
My point being, I’m no technical savant — Computer Science provided me with a good understanding of the foundational components of technology; but more than anything I’d say that a willingness to just give things a go, whilst being friendly enough to approach people who actually know what they’re doing, trumps all.
Putting yourself in these high-pressure learning situations is one of the best opportunities to grow in a professional capacity. I’ve passed numerous technical stage interviews for solution providers in industries which I’ve had little hands-on experience with — was it all down to studying Computer Science? It didn’t hurt my chances, sure, but it was mostly sacrificing a weekend to spend some time messing around with the platform, Googling it, YouTubing it and then, when all’s said and done, validating my prep work with two close friends — one of which is a PhD student, the other a Data Scientist.
I didn’t get the job in either of those scenarios — but I’ve since reused those skills in my current role. Putting in the effort never goes to waste if you learn something and, once more, it was a fun challenge — if not slightly stressful. Meanwhile, I’ve been told that a lot of candidates applying for tech roles today simply ignore the practical components of the interview, citing ‘I’m just not technical’.
By resigning yourself to this response, you’re effectively broadcasting ‘I’m not capable of this’ which isn’t a ringing endorsement of professional skill in any capacity.
Rather, you could be saying “I’ll figure it out” or “Can you teach me?”
Then you go find yourself a Full-Stack Developer/Technical Consultant/Product Manager /Better-Than-You Sales Engineer — and you mount a kindness offensive of such intensity that they have no choice but to help.
Gen-Z was born into tech; they can pick up these new tools faster than you can say “can you link me the documentation?”
You might not be technical sure, but — pretty soon — that might make all the difference.