When looking for a job, you may have heard the phrase ‘soft skills’ come up in interviews and on job descriptions. Soft skills are personality traits and attributes that are useful to have in the workplace across all kinds of professions. Although many I.T. roles emphasise the importance of technical knowledge, it’s incredibly important to make sure you also have a range of soft skills in order to enjoy a successful career. Research from the technology consultancy firm West Monroe shows that almost 80% of HR managers in the tech industry want to focus on finding employees with strong soft skills, and this trend doesn’t look like it will go away any time soon. With this in mind, here are five of some of the most in-demand soft skills in the I.T. industry:
Whether you’re trying to figure out why a colleague’s laptop won’t turn on, or counteracting a data security breach, any job related to I.T. will require you to have strong problem solving skills. This means you should know how to identify an issue, come up with possible remedies and act on a solution, sometimes in a very limited time frame.
Patience and an ability to keep calm under pressure are character traits that will help you develop your problem solving skills. Solutions might not work right away, or as predicted, so you need to be prepared to take initiative to navigate unexpected issues. This will ensure your work is noticed in a positive way, and will go far in helping you throughout your I.T. career.
Whether your conversations with colleagues and clients are in-person or online, having strong communication skills is essential to success in the I.T. industry. Listening skills also fall under this category, because you need to be able to actively listen to information that is being shared with you about a problem to come up with the correct solution. You also need to know how to communicate this information to a range of audiences, as this adaptability will allow you to demonstrate your own knowledge while making yourself approachable to others.
It should go without saying, but written communication is equally as important. Whether you’re writing out support tickets or emails, being able to accurately and clearly explain your thoughts in writing will make communication between your team and/or clients much easier. Any gaps in understanding can cause huge problems down the line and stifle innovation, so it’s best to avoid this as much as you can.
As an I.T. professional, you need to have excellent time management skills to be able to handle multiple tasks and deadlines, some of which can change at short notice. Being organised will make you more productive and efficient, which can benefit you not just in your career but elsewhere in your life too. One aspect of an I.T. career that many find enjoyable is the ability to multitask and juggle different tasks at once – but you can only enjoy this if you have the organisation skills to match.
You don’t need to plan your day down to the last minute to stay organised, but knowing how to keep track of your schedule and your daily tasks is essential. If you have any experience of project management, you will know this all too well! Similarly, knowing how to prioritise what needs to be done in order of importance or urgency is also a great way to demonstrate organisational skills. Being able to give evidence of these in an I.T. job interview is bound to impress an interviewer, as these are perhaps the most important soft skills for any I.T. professional to have.
Although creativity might not be an exact job requirement for most I.T. jobs, it can certainly help you go a long way. Think of some of the greatest names in technology – Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk. Their creativity helped them develop groundbreaking technologies that have revolutionized our societies. Even if you don’t aspire to make the next Facebook, in an I.T. role you’ll be expected to come up with innovative solutions to issues.
Being able to come up with and implement creative ideas to improve company products or processes will make you stand out from the crowd. Identifying a business need that I.T. can help resolve, and carrying out the work that needs to be done for this, gives you a chance to demonstrate your creativity and impress your team. Think of where the I.T. industry might be heading in the next 5, 10 or 15 years, and consider if there’s anything you can be doing ahead of time to prepare a creative response to these challenges and developments, like learning a new programming language.
Even the best-made plans can sometimes run into obstacles, which is why adaptability is such an important soft skill to have. As an I.T. professional, your priorities can change very quickly, so having the ability to pick up different tasks at short notice will ensure you can do your job successfully and efficiently. In addition, given the ever-changing nature of the technology industry, adaptability is even more crucial in order to stay current as new technologies emerge.
By keeping these five soft skills in your repertoire, you are sure to impress employers and fellow I.T. professionals alike. However, to have a successful career in tech, you need the technical knowledge to match. At IT Career Swap, we can help you boost your employability with a variety of qualifications across a range of I.T. sectors. Check out our course catalog over on our website here!