Soft skills you can apply to any role within the IT sector
So, you’ve spent so much time developing the ‘hard skills’ needed to succeed in your new field, but what about the soft skills required for your new role?
Hard skills are the things you have learnt in your subject specific classes and lectures, maybe coding, database management or graphic design to name a few. These hard skills are your technical knowledge in your chosen field and are vital for you succeed in your new career.
But, without the right soft skills to complement your technical knowledge, you will find it difficult to gain and stay in employment. Therefore, it is important to self-reflect on your soft skills, improve, and sell these skills to potential employers.
Soft skills in general are skills that you develop yourself over time and not in the lecture theatre.
These types of skills make you a more rounded person and employee. Without soft skills it would be difficult for you to apply your technical knowledge in an effective way within a commercial setting.
Whatever your role, all employers will look for indications that you have the right skill set. Either through your CV and cover letters or if you are interviewed, your answers to their questions.
Highly sought-after soft skills include:
- Time management
- Effective communication
- Problem solving
You may be reading this list thinking A: I have these skills already or B: I need to do some work.
If you have answered A, that’s great! Now you need to think about how can you apply them, how can you sell them to potential employers and how can you effectively apply them to your new job role?
If you have answered B, do not worry. Everyone needs to carry out self-development, it may just be that you need to focus on different areas to increase your soft skill set.
So, what soft skills apply to the IT sector?
In short, all of them, but the importance of each depends on your job role.
All IT professionals need to have time management skills, how else would you be able to hit deadlines and work under your own steam?
Being able to effectively break up your working tasks, with enough time to complete them, to the required standard and on time is extremely important.
Think about a software developer working within a large team using ‘SCRUM’ framework, not hitting their deadlines will impact on all those involved in the project.
Your employer needs to know you are reliable and will do what they need you to do. If you are not reliable then you are not employable. The importance of reliability and trust cannot be emphasized enough.
Many new starters fall into the trap of taking on too much work or overreaching their skill set. There are various reasons for this happening, maybe you want to come across as a hard worker, up for a challenge or don’t want to say no to their new boss.
Being unrealistic about your abilities and not delivering on time can make you seem unreliable and impacts on how much your employer will trust you in the future.
Think about the impact on a company’s performance if its workers regularly failed to perform their duties in full. The company would not be able to operate efficiently.
You know what you want to say, but how do you say it?
Whether you are working with clients face to face as technical support or communicating ideas and solutions to your mangers or colleagues, effective communication is extremely important.
Verbal and non-verbal communication skills play a very important part in how you present yourself and the information you are sharing.
Knowing your audience and adapting your tone, language and body language increases the effectiveness of the message.
Being able to communicate with your audience in a professional and effective manner is developed over time.
Think about a web developer explaining technical SEO to a client without technical knowledge, they will need to adapt and change their language accordingly, so the client understands the information.
Creativity and Problem Solving
Even if your role isn’t classed as creative, for example graphic design, you still need to be creative in your problem solving and solutions.
Being able to think outside the box (lateral thinking) is an important skill, especially within the IT sector. Being able to draw upon knowledge from other sources or disciplines and applying this to the task in hand is one of the most important softs skills you can possess.
Think about a software developer creating a brand-new app that has never been created before. There would be no examples or tutorials to follow to come up with a solution.
It is important that you can adjust and adapt to a new company and team dynamic in any role. Being able adopt new working methods and ways of thinking can enable you to make the best of your working environment.
Given the fast pace of the IT sector, with new technologies and consumer demands, adapting and changing with the times will help you stay at the top of your game.
Think about a software developer who starts a new job in a flat hierarchy company with an informal chain of command after working in a tall corporate structure with defined channels of communication. They would need to adapt to a more relaxed ad-hoc environment.
Teamwork and Leadership
Being able to work within a team is essential in many roles and can be the make or break of your career. Being able to work well with colleagues and clients, participating and sharing ideas makes for a more enjoyable working life.
If you like everyone you work with then great, however as with everything in life you may have team members you don’t click with or to put it bluntly, like on a personal level. The skill here is to still be able to work with them professionally and without prejudice.
Even if you are not the team leader, there are times when you will need to take the lead. Leadership calls upon all the skills mentioned in this blog. Being able to effectively lead a team to achieve its end goal is a skill that you will develop over time.
Think about UX designer working in a multi-discipline team discussing the best interface design for a product. They will need to lead the discussion to ensure their specialist knowledge is applied and understood by the team.
Dave is an in-house full stack developer and marketing manager for RLA Capital Limited, who has extensive knowledge in web related technologies and digital marketing.