The Importance of Soft Skills in Your Tech Career
As information technology becomes more integrated with business, soft skills have evolved into required smarts for most IT professionals. Gone are the days when IT folks sat behind a computer in an out-of-the-way office with no need to interact with others. If you’re a tech professional today, you must be able to work with your business colleagues and speak in terms they understand. This isn’t a requirement for just the higher-ranking IT professionals. Even developers, programmers and system administrators are being asked to work side by side with non-tech folks out in the business units.
Wondering what you need to be successful? These are the five soft skills companies want from their IT workers now:
As I said, companies aren’t locking their IT folks away in a closet any more. You’re integrated with every part of the business these days. That means you’ve got to be able to work on a team. You need to be able to partner with your business colleagues by listening to their needs and concerns and sharing technical information in easy-to-understand terms so you develop a project that delivers real value. You’ve got to be respectful and not use your technical acumen in ways that intimidate your non-technical business partners.
This goes right along with collaboration skills. You need to be able to speak and write articulately and in a way that non-IT people can understand. These days IT folks at all levels are being asked to explain and sell tech projects to business leaders, so you’ll need to know how to break down problems and clarify how technology can solve those problems to the business’ benefit. You’ll also be asked to document procedures and put together requirements.
Companies no longer work with technology for technology’s sake. As an IT professional today, you’re there to support the business. That means using technology to solve business problems. As such, you need to know how to identify a problem and work with others to come up with a solution.
If you’re like most IT professionals, you’re already juggling multiple assignments. You have your day-to-day maintenance tasks, troubleshooting chores and your project-based work like new implementations and upgrades. While not everyone needs to be a trained project manager, those types of organizational and management skills are obligatory throughout the IT ranks. You need to be able to successfully manage your many assignments and all the milestones and deadlines attached to them.
Customer service skills
As I mentioned, IT exists to support the business. Your attitude has to reflect that perspective even if you’re not on the help desk. You’ve got to have positive energy and a willingness to help internally, with customers, or anywhere you’re needed, regardless of the position you hold in the IT organization.
Certainly, the bulk of skills required to work in IT today are still in the technical realm. But, if you want to get hired, you have to break out of the mentality that soft skills don’t matter. The top candidates are able to blend strong technical experience with those personal attributes companies are asking for. Anyone in IT who still believes they don’t need any soft skills is going to be left in the dust.