While a career in IT requires specialised technical knowledge and abilities in order to properly carry out the job, this doesn’t mean that those are the only skills required. Tech recruiters are always on the lookout for soft skills in candidates. They can make the difference between a candidate who is simply a good fit for the job, or one who can potentially become a leader and valued team member later on.
Soft skills are skills that aren’t technical or specific to that particular job, but are often about how you relate to other people. After all, if you can't work effectively in a team or communicate concepts to clients, how does that benefit your employer? Here are five key soft skills that tech IT employers are particularly keen on.
1. Communication skills
Contrary to popular belief, IT is not a career where you can be completely introverted. IT systems and platforms are only relevant if they are used and applied within a business context. So you must be able to communicate effectively with people across all levels of your organisation if you want to get the job done.
Almost every IT career demands solid communication skills, both verbal and written. You will need to listen to and understand others’ problems and challenges, and be able to explain technical concepts to non-tech people. If you work as a developer, you must be able to work well in groups and convey your ideas effectively. In client-focused IT roles, you must also communicate clearly with clients to understand their problems and define solutions for them.
How to show good communication skills:
- Be clear, concise, and confident with verbal and written communication
- Understand your audience and tailor your communication to them
- Be empathetic to others and consider their views
- Think before you speak and choose your words carefully
2. Planning and organising skills
The IT industry is a project-oriented one, so you are more likely to be effective and productive at work if you know how to plan your time around tasks.
Many IT occupations are dynamic, allowing you to switch between a variety of projects and duties. Sometimes you might need to handle multiple projects at one time, which is when multitasking skills become extremely valuable. Being able to chunk and prioritise your daily responsibilities effectively is just as important as being able to keep track of things like your schedule and to-do lists.
How to show good planning and organisation skills:
- Show how you map out a project and allocate time into its individual tasks
- Prepare contingency plans in the event of sudden challenges and issues
- Demonstrate how you structure a task or project
3. Problem solving skills
Working in IT usually involves identifying and defining problems, determining the root causes, and then gathering relevant information to develop appropriate solutions. However, problem solving skills are about more than just responding to technical issues when they arise!
True problem solvers are able to anticipate problems before they happen, and suggest relevant fixes and enhancements to offset those. They may also suggest improvements or streamline existing functions to ensure systems and platforms run more efficiently – resulting in a better service and user experience, and most importantly: satisfied clients.
How to show good problem solving skills:
- Demonstrate that you can take a logical and analytical approach to dissecting problems
- Show that you can view problems from a number of angles and offer possible solutions for each case
- Show that you can anticipate potential bugs, user issues, or disruptions and act to prevent them from happening.
The IT industry is constantly evolving. New tech trends or best practices constantly come into play and phase out old ones. On top of that, you can also expect to encounter all sorts of ambiguous technical problems or client demands with no clear solutions.
Resilience is all about being willing to keep experimenting through trial and error until you achieve a desired outcome. It is also about actively upgrading your technical knowledge and skills on a regular basis while not being too attached to older methods of doing things. In the fast moving tech industry, being resilient is key to ensuring you stay employable throughout your career, and still keep yourself motivated throughout.
How to show you have resilience:
- Demonstrate that you have the determination to achieve an end result no matter what.
- Show that you can keep your optimism and enthusiasm even when facing tough problems.
- Prove that you can bounce back quickly from set-backs.
- Show constant efforts to keep learning new skills or upgrading your current ones.
5. Teamwork skills
Tech employers typically assign staff to projects in teams. So, teamwork skills are essential for sharing knowledge, establishing relationships, and supporting all the people involved in a project. Aside from interpersonal skills, teamwork may also involve leadership qualities. That is, considering and responding to others’ behaviours and motives, adapting yourself accordingly, and stepping up to bring your teammates along with you.
Another subset of teamwork is project management skills. A good project manager must be able to establish professional plans, set and achieve targets, and collaborate with colleagues to overcome project challenges. This is especially key if you hold a leadership role in your team. It is a skill that will be in-demand throughout your IT career.
How to show you have good teamwork skills:
- Show that you can build and maintain positive working relationships.
- Demonstrate how you share information with others while showing respect for alternative views/opinions.
- Prove how you have contributed to keeping projects on track and achieving a final goal, while working co-operatively with others.
- Show how you have considered and identified what motivates others, and how you lead by example.