Top 5 soft skills for IT professionals
Success in tech isn’t all about technical skills. You also need to develop your soft skills – the personality traits and people skills that make you a valuable team member. Research by tech consultancy West Monroe reveals that nearly 80% of HR managers in the industry are focusing on finding employees with good soft skills.
These five skills are particularly in demand. Even if you think you already score highly on them, it’s well worth taking some time to consider how you can demonstrate them in your CV and at interview.
Any IT role will call for strong problem-solving skills: the ability to identify the issue, think of possible solutions, choose one, and act on it, often under intense time pressure. Patience and the ability to stay calm in tense situations will help you improve your problem-solving skills. Solutions won’t always work as expected, so you need to be ready to take initiative to handle unexpected issues. If you can do this – and tell stories about times when you’ve done this – you’ll go far.
Communication is key in any industry, in person or online. In IT, it takes on special importance. You’ll need strong active listening skills to be able to take on board information about problems and requirements and come up with the right solution. You’ll also need to be able to communicate complex technical ideas in understandable terms to lay people.
Many IT professionals enjoy the variety and multitasking inherent in their roles, but without excellent time management skills, you won’t be able to juggle ever-changing tasks and deadlines successfully. Learning better time management will boost your productivity and efficiency and enable you to get ahead both at work and in your personal life.
An essential part of good organisation is knowing how to prioritise – as you’ll know only too well if you’ve ever tried your hand at project management. If you can demonstrate at interview that you know how to prioritise things in order of importance and urgency, you’ll definitely impress the interviewer, as this is perhaps the most important soft skill an IT professional can have.
It’s not all left-brain thinking in IT. The greats like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are great creative thinkers too. At a minimum, you’ll need to be able to create innovative solutions, but if you can also come up with imaginative ideas to improve products and processes, identify business needs that IT can help to solve, and implement those ideas,you’ll really set yourself apart. Think about where IT might be in 10 years and what you can do ahead of time to be prepared, like learning a new programming language.
COVID has taught us all the importance of adaptability, and it’s particularly vital in IT. Your priorities can change from moment to moment, so you’ll need to be able to switch tasks at short notice. And given the constantly accelerating pace of change in the tech industry, you’ll also need to be dedicated to lifelong learning to keep up to date with new technologies and ensure your skills stay relevant.