Technical skills are essential for any IT (information technology) position. However, IT employees also need soft, or interpersonal, skills. IT professionals need to be able to successfully interact with customers and vendors, manage departments, and convey their ideas to others.
Here are the top soft skills for IT jobs. Developing these skills and emphasizing them in your job application and interview will help you rise above the job market competition.
Top 10 IT Soft Skills
With the number of emails, proposals, and design documents an IT professional writes, written communication is essential. Verbal communication is equally important. As an IT employee, you often have to explain technical processes in clear, easy-to-understand terms for customers and employers. You also need to be able to explain your ideas in such a way as to make others want to support and finance your projects.
IT professionals not only need to communicate their own ideas, but also need to actively listen to others. Listen closely to what the client or your employer wants, so that you can give them exactly what they are asking for. Don't be afraid to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the other person.
IT projects are often the work of a team of professionals rather than an individual. Therefore, teamwork is essential; you need to be able to communicate your ideas and listen to others' suggestions, and know when to take a leadership role and when to be a team player.
Even if you are not in a management position, you will often be asked to manage a project or team, if only for a brief period. Being a project manager requires strong communication skills, the ability to delegate tasks, and a constant focus on the end goal. As an IT professional, you may also be involved in vendor management. It is essential that you know how to communicate with vendors to ensure your company's needs are being met efficiently.
IT professionals often find themselves teaching skills, either to employers, new employees, or product users. An employer will appreciate an employee who can successfully walk someone through a technical process with clarity and patience.
IT professionals often face setbacks or unexpected changes, ranging from a technical problem with their project to a last-minute issue with a vendor. You need to learn to be flexible, accepting these changes and immediately looking for creative solutions. Employers will appreciate this flexibility in an employee.
Similarly, you must be open to suggestions and feedback, whether from an employer or client. Listen attentively to any feedback you receive, and be open to making necessary changes to improve satisfaction.
IT professionals are constantly looking towards the future, anticipating and developing solutions for potential tech problems and needs. This sort of forward thinking requires a lot of imagination and creative problem solving. Employers therefore seek out tech professionals who are able to think up unique solutions.
No matter what your position in IT, you will need some form of negotiation skills, from making hiring decisions to collaborating with vendors or contractors to selling your idea to an organization. Being able to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties is a great soft skill that will make you stand out, particularly if you want to be promoted to a management position.
A presentation can be anything from a one-on-one conversation to a department meeting to a lecture. Whatever the form, you need to be able to articulate your ideas clearly to others. Even if your ideas are great, no one will be able to appreciate them if you cannot convey them effectively. Working on your approachability, verbal communication, and your familiarity with presentation tools will help you strengthen your presentation skills.
A number of IT projects are stalled because of a variety of issues - financial problems, issues with vendors, a lack of teamwork, etc. It is important for an IT professional to stay focused on the ultimate goal and continue to work towards that result. Beginning a project with a clear and realistic timeline and budget can help you achieve your ultimate goal. Your employer will be impressed with your ability to not only plan a project, but to see it through to the end.