Engineers and IT professionals are experts in hard skills – teachable, technical skills like programming or coding. However, there are “soft skills” that are discussed far less but are equally important for any modern IT professional to succeed.
What are “soft skills”?
“Soft skills” is a term that is thrown around in the workplace a lot, but most people only have a vague idea of what it means. Let’s begin by clearing the air: A soft skill is any skill that allows an individual to be a better interpersonal communicator or team player; in other words, soft skills are people skills.
What are the soft skills that IT professionals need in order to succeed?
Certain soft skills might work well in some industries, but not be appropriate for others. Some of the best soft skills for working in IT are universal, while others, like the industry itself, are unique.
Here are our top five soft skills for IT:
- Flexibility. Working in IT means encountering new problems and frequent setbacks. To succeed, IT pros need to be able to adapt to an ever-shifting environment.
- Negotiation. Whether you’re pitching a new idea, collaborating with contractors or managing a client’s expectations, the ability to fairly and confidently negotiate is crucial.
- Public speaking. Any leader – including those working in IT – needs to have the ability to maintain composure while speaking in front of peers. Practice eye contact, articulate speech and sharply honing your ideas before addressing a crowd.
- Always live up to your word. Be realistic about expectations with yourself, your co–workers, and your clients. It’s better to follow through on what you say you’ll do than it is to set overinflated expectations and not deliver.
- Creativity. Once you’ve mastered the hard skills that are required to be successful in IT, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box – employers are always keeping their eye out for employees who are able to think of unconventional solutions to problems and are able to bring a little imagination into the workplace.
It’s best to think of the five critical skills above as a soft skills starter pack. Once you have the big five mastered, you can begin mastering other important communication skills like training, empathy and leadership. If used in tandem with the suite of technical IT skills, these soft skills will propel you and your career forward into the future. If you’re ready to begin searching for your next exciting opportunity in IT, check out our careers page.