There’s more to working in IT than simply understanding it; you need to be able to communicate the hows and whys of technical expertise, too. In a sector where working collaboratively is becoming the norm, soft skills are now as important as technical aptitude.
This search for soft skills is a major part of today’s IT recruitment process. Employers are looking for candidates who can effectively communicate their thinking right across the company – engaging with everyone from project managers and developers to quality assurance and external stakeholders.
Here are six of the key IT soft skills that businesses want to see in their next hires.
The ability to articulate ideas and concepts is an essential part of business, whatever the sector. Today’s IT professionals don’t work in siloes, but in wider cross-department groups, interacting with a range of stakeholders. IT is notoriously complex and full of jargon, meaning that the IT pros in the greatest demand are the ones able to articulate what they’re doing in a team environment.
2. Active listening
Just as important as being able to communicate is the ability – and willingness – to listen to others. No one enjoys being criticised, but the ability to accept feedback and use it to your advantage is a valuable skill to have. Having face-to-face conversations improves our ability to listen and take on board what we are being told. It’s time to be more receptive to change.
It is often the way that the more experienced an employee, the less willing they are to take a collaborative approach to working. Today’s IT pros need to demonstrate their ability to think innovatively and focus on corporate culture. If an IT department is trying to promote technical tools that improve workplace collaboration, they need to practice what they preach.
It’s one thing having IT knowledge, but another thing entirely to share that knowledge effectively. Providing mentoring and passing on technical expertise is invaluable to any business. So much of our technical learning occurs on the job, in real-time and within real environments. Within a thriving business, there will always be new recruits coming in and new IT systems and apps being rolled out; it is up to tech professionals to ensure the right skills are acquired and the right questions are answered.
The ability to empathise is not just about seeing things from another person’s perspective; it’s about building relationships with fellow colleagues and understanding the bigger picture. When you come from a technical perspective it can be hard to see things from a non-technical or commercial point of view. An IT professional who takes the time to consider and understand the impact their work has on other departments in the company is increasingly being seen as a valuable asset.
Graduates or those relatively new to the IT sector don’t often trust their own instincts because of their lack of real-world experience. But drive, passion and an ability to present new ideas in a persuasive way are all attributes that will ultimately help drive a business forward.
Effective soft skills are highly prized in today’s collaborative IT environment. Hiring managers need to secure new hires who are not just good on paper, but who can also deliver the goods when the pressure is on. Finding a candidate who is the right fit for an organisation is not easy; it takes patience and confidence – and soft skills are more often than not just as important as technical expertise and experience.