It takes more than pure technical skill to be a good tech professional. Having soft skills outside of one’s job will make for a much more well-rounded individual with a successful career in his or her future. Soft skills influence how well you can work or interact with others in the workplace. Having these skills will make it easier to form relationships with people, create trust and dependability, and lead teams to success. As a tech professional, it is an absolute necessity to excel in this area outside of your hard skill expertise.
Five skills in particular will be key in your soft skill set: communication, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, and collaboration.
Good communication is an important tool in achieving productivity and maintaining strong working relationships at all levels of an organization. Communicating information efficiently to fellow employees in the workplace is as crucial as the work itself. This information can be passed down via verbal communication or written communication. Poorly delivered messages may lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and in some cases, disaster.
An individual who is patient and well-spoken can explain their ideas well and with ease in the workplace. Being a good listener is vital as well. Comprehension, especially for tech professionals, is crucial in understanding complex ideas shared by IT professionals. Listening closely to details and having an open mind will allow you to stay sharp and efficient. A tech career may be right for you if you are someone who promptly follows up, knows how to help people understand your ideas, and are attentive to the details others communicate.
Working with technology is synonymous with constantly solving problems. Solving problems is more than putting out fires, it is being proactive. Often, it means being creative or thinking of solutions that have not been tried before. It allows you to prepare for problems before they even happen. Working with internal and external customers can help gain new perspectives and discover needs so that one can better solve problems with technology. Kacper Brzozowski, Technical Founder at Zety, breaks down problem-solving stating,
In other words, ‘thinking about thinking.’ It is the ability to think in an organized and rational manner in order to understand connections between ideas and facts. It allows professionals to make rational decisions that often affect the well-being of more significant projects.
Great problem solvers are also resourceful. Resourcefulness is especially handy for those new to technology like those moving to IT from other career paths. With a resourceful mindset, you are determined to find a solution, no matter what the situation may be. It will place you a cut above the rest. Open-mindedness, self-assurance, proactiveness, persistence, and an imaginative mind are great qualities to aid in problem-solving. Problem solvers don't always have the answers, but they do know where to find the answers. If you enjoy problem-solving in your hobbies, like completing puzzles or tinkering with how mechanisms operate, a career in technology might be for you.
The reality is that technology is used by many groups within an organization. Teamwork is a vital skill for technology professionals. Tech professionals need to empathize with those in an organization that needs to use technology. Cohesiveness and a willingness to work together will help with progress in the workplace and allow for better work relationships. Even though IT professionals may work remotely or independently, they have to constantly interact with stakeholders in numerous areas of an organization.
Employers are always looking to add individuals who work harmoniously with others in their organization. They do not think of IT as an island unto itself. IT professionals are often called upon to collaborate with individuals representing different skill sets to administer or design systems. Even though IT is not often thought of as a helping field, almost every career in technology involves helping people get their job done. Whether it is teaching, building systems, or solving problems, technology professionals are always helping out as part of a team.
Leadership can be leading an entire team on a project or simply having the discipline to lead yourself. The leadership ability of an IT professional will be evident, even if they are not managing others. Those with strong leadership skills will be able to inspire others and get buy-in for their ideas. They will show a positive outlook when faced with tough problems. Leaders in IT will keep a cool head when negotiating with stakeholders who may have differing objectives. They are also adept at motivating others and themselves. Leadership is needed to negotiate project parameters, deadlines, and resources.
Leaders who understand the finer points of negotiation will be able to help an organization achieve objectives and have compliance with stakeholder groups. Great leaders in IT are flexible. They adapt well to changing situations and requirements while presenting a positive attitude and helping others involved. They understand that IT is ever-evolving and understand it is their responsibility to adapt and stay up-to-date as new technology emerges.
The “Lone-Wolf” is becoming an endangered species in the modern IT workforce. Historically, extremely proficient IT professionals who could focus independently on their work were seen as the most sought after in the industry. Today we have found that goals are achieved in a more timely manner and projects are delivered with a higher success rate when there is collaboration between multiple IT professionals, each with an area of expertise. Now that work is being done more often remotely, collaboration has become an essential skill for the health of an organization. The ability for IT professionals to collaborate is often the difference between a successful launch and a missed deadline.
Soft skills must be kept sharp by technology professionals. According to a Leadership IQ study, almost half of new hires (48%) fail within 18 months. Of those failures, only 11% are due to a lack of hard skills. The remaining failures (89%) occur due to a lack of soft skills. Being a well rounded IT professional with the skills to successfully interact with those in the workplace will allow you to achieve upward mobility in your career and allow you to be a valuable asset in the tech industry. Having more employees with a high level of soft skills in a company will yield a stronger, more stable team.
NuPaths acknowledges the importance of soft skills in tech. We provide 18 hours of business skills workshops that are embedded throughout the NuPaths program. These workshops recognize the skills and competencies that allow people to interact effectively and productively; skills like collaboration, communication, emotional intelligence, and time management.
Workshop Topics include:
- Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Mindfulness
- Verbal Communication
- Non-Verbal Communication
- Written Communication
- Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
- Overcoming IT Stereotypes
- Social Media
- Resume and Cover Letter Writing
Find out more about our workshops and programs at https://www.nupaths.org/nupathways/#workshops.