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The 10 Top Soft Skills Needed To Succeed In The Tech World
Technical skills will always top hiring managers‘ lists, but increasingly, employers are seeking out candidates that are bringing all-important “soft skills,” or emotional intelligence qualities to the table.
It goes without saying that to have a career in the IT space, companies will require a set of technical, or “hard skills” depending on the job, such as AI or machine-learning know-how, development and data science knowledge, and experience in cloud or network security.
But IT skills and certifications aren’t the only kind of smarts that employers and companies are looking for. Soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, critical thinking, and change management are increasingly being sought after by organizations looking to up-level their businesses, according to a recent report from global human resource consulting firm Robert Half, which has been tracking hiring and salary trends for the past 70 years.
And it’s not just IT companies or teams that are looking for candidates with so-called soft skills. Industries such as healthcare, government, and financial services are all hiring, and are seeking people that are right for the job, in terms of both technical skills and emotional intelligence.
Here are the top ten soft skills that employers in the tech sector are seeking the most, according to Robert Half.
Attention To Detail
Attention to detail is a soft skill that is being touted on many resumes for a reason. The ability to be thorough and accurate when accomplishing a task or finishing a project is a must-have for many companies.
Oftentimes, it’s the smallest details that make up a successfully completed large project. Having employees that pay attention to detail not only improves workplace productivity, but it also boosts efficiency and performance.
Business acumen, or an understanding of how a company earns and uses money, is a critical core skill that employers value in their employees and prospective employees.
Business acumen is a skill that can be developed. It includes learning and understanding of what drives profitability for a company, viewing the company through the eyes of the larger market, and keeping in mind a big picture understanding of the business, its relationships, and clients or end customers. Prospective employees will want to demonstrate this skill during the interview process to make the best, first impression.
If 2020 taught the world anything, it’s that being flexible and able to roll with the punches is critical.
The ability to handle change and disruption, whether or not it’s happening quickly as it did at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, is a necessary skill for any employee to develop right now. Companies are seeking adaptability from their prospective employees as they implement changes to their internal and external processes to prepare for a future that may look a little different and include options such as a hybrid working model, or different methods of engaging with colleagues, clients, or customers.
Many companies suffer from organizational silos -- that is, business units often operate independently of one another and struggle to share information. Working with outside parties, such as business partners and clients, can also be challenging.
Working together and completing projects take organization and the ability to identify the right information and expertise to get the job done. That‘s why employers are looking more and more for candidates with strong collaboration skills or a background that involves working with others. The good news is that there are many collaboration platforms companies are relying on today that can help workers stay organized and focus on the task or project at-hand that can also help employees target the right people to tap on the shoulder.
The ability to communicate effectively has always been an important skill to develop for any employee, but more than ever, companies are looking for candidates that are skilled in interpersonal communication, and both verbal and non-verbal communication.
The ability to successfully exchange information, ideas, and feelings between a colleague or two and with larger groups of fellow employees, clients, and end customers is not only important face-to-face, but also in the virtual environments that many employees find themselves today, like over videoconferencing or collaboration platforms. As important as communication skills are, so is the ability to listen and read others‘ communications.
Critical thinking has many moving parts. The ability to think deeply and critically involves observation, analysis, and interpretation skills, as well as problem solving and decision making.
Companies are looking for employees that are open-minded and can see past their own natural biases and are good at making inferences and forming judgements. Just as important, however, is the ability to then reflect and explain their findings to fellow employees or clients.
The “customer is always right” trope is a trope for a reason, in that the ability to communicate, assist, and please the end customer or client is the ultimate endgame for most companies. Employers want to know that their employees are well-versed in customer service.
Customer service is a skill that combines many other important soft skills, such as communication, problem solving, and attention to detail. Candidates that can provide timely and attentive service to a customer, and making sure client needs are met, reflects positively on the company or business.
Leadership is one soft skill that’s very hard to teach. Not every employee will be in a managerial role, but being open to new ideas, committing to a plan, and the ability to demonstrate strong morals and set a good example for others in the company is an important quality for an employee to have, regardless of their position within the company.
For those who will be in a position to manage others, companies want leaders with integrity and those that can hold themselves and their staff accountable. Perhaps most importantly, companies want leaders that are empathetic and make their team feel valued. Sixty percent of workers want to work for an organization that values its staff during unpredictable times, according to a poll from Robert Half of 1,000 U.S. employees.
Inevitably, issues will crop up at work that will require adaptability and resilience.
Employees won’t always have the right answer, but employers are looking for candidates that have a combination of analytical and critical thinking, as well as creative thinking, or the ability to think outside of the box. Those that are level-headed during times of crisis and those that are willing to step up and take the initiative to work through an issue are very valuable skills for employees to have, especially when things don‘t work the first time.
The ability to successfully manage projects requires nearly all of the soft skills on this list, including communication, collaboration, and leadership skills. Also required are strong organizational skills.
Project management involves starting, planning, executing, controlling, and closing projects. It also involves delegation to other team members, business units, or employees in order to achieve the goals of the project over a set timeline and budget. Meeting deadlines and staying within budget have become increasingly necessary in a world dominated by a pandemic as businesses work diligently to keep their doors open on tight budgets.