Four business people holding cut-out communication bubbles above their heads.

Technical skills are important, there’s no doubt about that. No hiring manager is hiring an Oracle DBA who has little to no experience with the Oracle database. Or a Software Developer who lacks any programming experience. This is especially true for contract positions – roles where the employer is expecting the candidate/consultant to hit the ground running. But when faced with similar candidates, with similar technical backgrounds and proficiencies, what makes a hiring manager choose one over the other? What else are they looking for? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the soft skills that set candidates apart and we’ll also address the new type of candidate hiring managers are on the lookout for – hybrid IT workers.

Essential Soft Skills for IT Workers

When all else is equal – education, certifications, years of experience, technical proficiencies, etc. – it’s the soft skills that’ll set technical candidates apart from each other. Soft skills, the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people, not only help IT professionals fit more seamlessly into their new roles and IT teams but they also help IT professionals advance their professional careers. Some examples of the soft skills hiring managers look for are:

  • Communication Skills – The written and verbal ability to effectively communicate ideas with colleagues, upper management, and clients. Being able to effectively communicate is a skill many often take for granted yet it’s a skill that will truly help separate job seekers from their competition.
  • Team Skills – The ability to work well with others, whether by giving or taking instruction. Individuals who can work well with others are sought after because many IT projects are collaborative in nature. This means being a good team player is essential for the successful completion of projects.
  • A Strong Work Ethic – Possessing a strong motivation to get the job done in a timely and effective manner. There isn’t a hiring manager around who would say this isn’t a desirable trait. If you happen to struggle in this area, consult our previous consultant focused blog post for tips on how to become more productive.
  • Organizational Skills – Employers are looking for individuals who are detail-oriented, forward-looking, and innovative thinkers. Individuals who can assess situations and quickly realize what’s essential, what’s most important, and then decide how and when to devote limited resources to their projects.
  • An Enthusiastic Approach – Displaying optimism, energy, and a passion for one’s work. In order to exemplify this trait, when meeting with potential employers in phone or in-person interviews, provide thoughtful, engaging responses to their questions. Before making an investment in a new hire, employers want to know that they’re going to be an active, engaged member of their team.
  • Self-Confidence – Having belief in one’s own ability and being able to ask for help when help is needed. Humility, in doses, is a desired and admired character trait. Understanding when you need help, or don’t know the answer to a problem, shows a form of maturity that is respected by employers and hiring managers. Conversely, always having to ask for help sends the wrong message.
IT Hiring Manager’s Wish List: Hybrid IT Workers

Hybrid IT workers are individuals who can perform the tasks of conventional IT professionals but also assist end user departments and effectively complete that business end’s tasks as well. In layman’s terms, a hybrid IT worker is an IT professional who not only performs complex and technical tasks, but who also explains the how’s and why’s of those tasks to the business side (non-technical people) of an organization. Essentially, they’re bridge builders – IT professionals who connect the business and IT sides of an organization. With the emergence of these professionals, IT projects will be completed faster and done more efficiently.

As IT becomes more and more complex each day, and with no signs of slowing down, the need for these IT professionals will soon become commonplace. This means the need for clear and concise communication (our number one listed soft skill) will continue to stay in high-demand and remain one of the deciding factors for whether or not an individual receives a job offer.

For even more information on the importance of soft skills, consult these previous blog posts:

Advancing Your IT Career

Beyond IT: The Skills You Need Right Now for IT Career Success

The Skills for IT Career Success – Part 2

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