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13 Soft Skills and Tips to Boost Your (IT) Career

When you think about the skillsets needed to be a successful IT professional, what qualities come to mind? Do you immediately run through all the technical skills you’d expect someone to have, whether it’s a background in computer science, coding prowess or a deep understanding of how the cloud actually works?

Well, public and private sector organizations are increasingly looking for tech talent with high emotional intelligence, the ability to think critically and solve tough problems and communicate empathetically with business leaders outside the IT shop. A recent analysis by the Pew Research Center also backs this up. According to the analysis:

“Employers in the United States are increasingly in pursuit of workers who are adept in social skills, like negotiation and persuasion, and have a strong grounding in fundamental skills, such as critical thinking and writing. In the past nearly four decades, employment in the U.S. has expanded most rapidly in jobs in which these skill sets are most valued. Jobs attaching greater importance to analytical skills, such as science, mathematics and programming, are also hiring workers at a brisk pace.”

We wanted to bring our community into the conversation, so we posed this question: If there was an advice column for IT professionals, what non-technical career questions would you ask (think soft skills)? Or what advice would you give when it comes to soft skills and their impact on the technical work? You can view the full dialogue here.

Here’s what we heard:

1. Learn how to give and receive feedback.

2. Know when to listen versus when to problem-solve. Understand how to communicate in varying styles and with different personality types.

3. Play to people’s strengths rather than try to change them, and create a sense of belonging.

4. Embrace servant-leadership and the importance of humility.

5. Understand the problem you are solving for and balance short-term needs with long-term plays.

6. Remember, there’s a suite of tools in the toolkit, so make sure they synchronize with one another.

7. Get to the heart of the problem. Is it a technology solution and problem or a culture and adoption problem?

8. Communication and interpersonal skills (e.g. nurturing relationships in the workplace) are vital for building your career. People can be a lot more effective if they’ve built great relationships with people across their organization.

9. Stay connected with the voice of the customer.

10. Develop your own tools for encouraging a modern and inclusive workplace.

11. Gain momentum for continuous (self) learning and discovery. Understand continuous improvement and continuous delivery.

12. Know how to properly define business requirements from functional requirements. Utilize the scrum values within teams.

13. If you’re in management, understand how to hire and create high-performing agile teams.

If these tips resonated with you in any way, or if you have advice to share, please include them in the comments section.

Photo Credit: WOCinTech Chat | Flickr


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James Abyad

I love how these tips can apply to relationships even! I think it’s important to view our work “tasks” in a context of people that are behind them to really see a positive effect. Great tips!