We’ve spoken about this topic before – Beyond IT: The Skills You Need Right Now for IT Career Success – but its message was so important it’s worth revisiting the topic. As a member of the IT community it’s no secret how important one’s technical skills and proficiencies are. After all, what good are programmers if they don’t know how to code? How effective could software developers be if they couldn’t tell you the first thing about the SDLC? However, with how competitive today’s market place is, the skills beyond IT are the ones that will set you apart.
In this blog, we’ll be examining the soft skills that employers are looking for, the ones that can truly give you a leg up on the competition.
Communication – As we mentioned in our previous blog, strong communication skills aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity. With the speed at which today’s world operates there’s no time for continuous back and forth emails or to be playing a game of phone tag. Employers are looking for those individuals that can deliver a clear and concise message. But even more than that, they’re looking for people who can translate complex ideas and technical concepts into layman’s terms – ones an average businessperson can understand. Being able to effectively communicate is a skill many often take for granted but it’s a skill that will truly separate you from your competition and peers.
Being a Good Team Player – Listen to any post-game interview and you’ll commonly hear the same refrain, “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.” It’s no different in the business world or IT industry. Every great IT department has a great team behind it. From web designers to software engineers to project managers, all members of the team working together are essential for business success. That’s why individuals who can work well with others are so sought after – those that can set aside their differences and work with their colleagues for the greater good of the company.
Decision-making – This skill may be more properly suited for those in management positions but it’s still in great demand. The ability of an individual to calmly and collectedly listen to multiple viewpoints then properly gauge the probable outcomes of making a business decision cannot be overstated. Those who rush to a decision without first weighing its consequences are destined to cause their company great distress. The future may be unpredictable but with great decision makers in place, an organization is much better suited to face and deal with its challenges.
Planning & Prioritization – The business world, and the IT industry especially, doesn’t come with an instruction manual. It’s not like baking a cake – there are no step-by-step instructions. That’s why 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. These skills help save the organization both time and money – what organization would turn that away?
Asking for Help – Nobody likes a know-it-all. There’s no shame in asking for help when stumped for a solution. In fact, being humble enough to know when you don’t know is an admired character trait. Of course, always having to ask for help isn’t desired but there’s a huge difference between people who know nothing and the ones who realize what they don’t know. To quote Confucius, “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.” Who can argue with that?
So these were the expanded soft skills that we believe employers are seeking from their potential employees. What other soft skills, that we may have missed, could help make an impact on your career?