In tech, “soft skills” can be the difference between success and failure
The tech industry is filled with processes, roadmaps, and wiring. It’s also full of people with the technical or “hard” skills that are important to getting the job done. But as industry insiders will tell you, technical knowledge is only half the picture. Soft skills are equally in demand, even if they’re underrated by many job seekers (to their detriment).
Here are some of the most important of these skills in the IT workplace:
1. COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION
Building tech with someone else or as part of a team makes for better applications and products. Effective communication is also crucial to explain how something works and to outline a solution, often to a non-tech client or audience. Effective communicators do not “dumb down” complex information, but are adept at making such concepts clear through common language, analogies, and adapting to their audience.
2. TIME MANAGEMENT
Contrary to popular belief, most tech work isn’t performed in a room by oneself, but is actually completed in a highly team-oriented environment. That means that good or bad time management skills by a team member can have a corresponding effect on the rest of the members. Time management also affects many other soft skills, like dependability in meeting deadlines, which in turn become an employee’s reputation when considered for advancement.
Networking is important on many levels. A strong network provides a resource to help overcome challenges and solve problems. No one has all the answers all the time, and the ability to adapt and absorb others’ expertise is a leadership skill that companies are willing to pay for. The wider the network, the wider the range of outside expertise that can shore up weaknesses in a project or a team.
Before you can solve the client’s issue, you must understand the client’s difficulty and dissatisfaction with their existing network, website, app, or other technology. Products that don’t address these issues, but instead force the user to adapt to the product, are not designed with empathy in mind. As a result, such products are generally dropped at the first opportunity for companies that “get it” in the eyes of the consumer.
5. CRITICAL THINKING
Many people who gravitate into tech careers do so for the predictability of outcomes that math and science generally provide. But ask anyone in the industry and they’ll tell you that problems can emerge where you least expect them, requiring staff members to think on their feet. Critical thinking is the ability to assess a problem and offer a productive solution, being flexible and creative enough to bend within certain operational, logistical, or cost parameters.