Open up any IT job listing and you’re likely to see a list of technical proficiencies under required skills. But what many job seekers may not consider—and what many employers may forget to include in these job listings—is that soft skills are often equally, if not more, important to just about any role in the industry. While it’s imperative that support professionals have a complete understanding of the systems or technologies they are working with, for example, it’s also imperative that they possess excellent communication skills in order to best understand what a customer’s problem is and how to help them rectify it.
In the past, we’ve mentioned the importance of one type of soft skill—critical thinking skills–in information technology, but there are many other soft skills imperative to having a successful career in IT. The following are the top 5 skills many hiring managers are looking for in their IT hires.
- Communication skills. As mentioned above, communication skills are becoming increasingly important for professionals across industries to possess. However, this does not only apply to positions that are obviously rooted in roles that require extensive face-to-face or telephonic interaction. Communication skills also encompass written correspondence, the ability to interact with others professionally, the ability to clearly convey and articulate thoughts, and listening skills. Even positions that require limited interaction with others still require these skills, so it’s important to make sure they’re well-developed, and you can demonstrate to an employer that you have them.
- Leadership skills. Whether it’s troubleshooting a problem, writing a new piece of code, or training others on new software, many IT positions require self-starters with the ability to take the reins. That being said, teamwork skills are equally important, so it’s important to know how to work with all levels of staff and management in order to cover all your bases.
- Adaptability. In a field that’s forever changing, adaptability is key. You may have thorough knowledge of a certain software or platform—but do you have the adaptability to learn all the changes that come with an update, a new version, or a transition to a completely new system? This kind of flexibility is necessary in just about any IT role, as the technologies we use are constantly evolving and changing.
- Organizational skills. From your desk space to endless spreadsheets and big data, organizational skills and attention to detail are necessary in just about every facet of information technology work. Technology is all about efficiency, and disorganization is the efficiency’s biggest roadblock. Since many IT jobs are project-based, it’s important to stay focused from start through finish, and being well-organized can help you do so.
- Humility. This is one of the less obvious traits we can classify as a soft skill. Though it may sound counter-intuitive, humility is important at all levels, from staff position to upper management. Especially in information technology, humility is important in order to quickly adapt to changes and rectify any costly mistakes without letting pride interfere, as well as working with people who may not be as technologically savvy as yourself.
However, simply stating that you have “excellent communication skills” or are “teamwork-oriented” in an interview or on a resume can be considered cliché, even if a job description lists these skills as a requirement. On your next interview, be sure to find ways to display these skills—or, better yet, draft some stories of projects and accomplishments beforehand that show how you possess and have used these skills in the past.