Employers certainly value IT candidates who possess high levels of technical competencies, but it is becoming increasingly common for them to also consider the non-technical and soft skills of applicants. Some of these soft skills may include areas such as critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence and more. For aspiring IT professionals in the job market, here are the top five non-technical or soft skills most companies are interested in:
1. Interpersonal skills
Unlike other technical positions, IT professionals don’t work in complete isolation. The vast majority of IT employees work in collaborative environments, where they interact with project managers, developers, quality assurance personnel, DevOps teams and other members of the organization. Smart hiring managers look for candidates who don’t just possess the necessary technical skills to perform their jobs, but individuals who also have excellent interpersonal skills.
IT professionals must be able to communicate effectively in group settings and become used to explaining difficult concepts to those who do not speak in the same technical terms. Some of the primary interpersonal skills needed on the job include active listening, negotiation and the ability to work well alongside others of diverse backgrounds and opinions. Essentially, employers want to hire good team players.
As the technology industry is changing faster than any other field, IT professionals must be adaptable on the job. For example, what process worked a year or five minutes ago, might not be the right solution to meet an ever-evolving set of needs. This innate sense of flexibility allows workers to roll with whatever comes their way and not get bogged down in the old way of handling things.
Within this category arises the need for patience. Whenever IT workers have to train coworkers on a new software, system or tool, the employees aren’t likely to grasp these concepts as quickly as those with technical know-how. They will likely learn at a slower pace, which requires a lot of patience on the part of the IT professional. Organizations look for candidates who will take time to help their coworkers learn and not get frustrated when they struggle or aren’t grasping new concepts very quickly.
3. Business acumen
While not on the front lines of product development, marketing or sales, IT professionals must have the right amount of business knowledge to understand what it takes to “sell” themselves and their work to the rest of the company. They need to have a good sense of business to demonstrate to key decision-makers just how important their job is and how their work affects the organization’s bottom line on the whole.
It’s not enough to have the right technical skills today if IT professionals can’t translate this internal success in external ways. They should learn how to anticipate questions, interact with executives and be confident about the impact they are having on their company. In today’s competitive job market, it’s important for IT professionals to have a strategic mind for business in addition to technical and other soft skills.
Today, it’s not enough for IT workers to just bring their own technical skills to the table. Now, they need to have a wide network they can draw on to learn what other companies are doing and how they can improve their own efforts. While professionals don’t have to have an extensive network from the start, many companies encourage their IT workers to expand their personal contacts to gain experience and key insights that could help them create better solutions for their organization.
This isn’t just beneficial for the company, as networking skills are essential for any IT worker’s career development. Whether they want to move to a different company or grow in a mentorship role, there are plenty of benefits to IT employees broadening their personal and business contacts.
5. Enthusiasm for work and learning
This is one of the more important skills IT professionals should to possess as they begin looking in the job market. Hiring managers need to know their candidates aren’t just looking for a paycheck, but that they want to engage with company culture and invest in the organization. No smart employer wants to hire workers who simply do their job and watch the clock until it’s time to go home. They want their employees to be enthusiastic about their job, the field itself and interactions with their coworkers.
This doesn’t mean IT professionals have to hit up an after-work happy hour every day with their team, but it does mean that IT workers should have a desire to work and learn more about their industry. As the saying goes, workers should “always be learning” if they want to make a solid impression at work. This may include anything from taking additional programming classes to reading technology newsletters or blogs to stay up-to-date with the latest trends.
Employers don’t want their IT team to remain stagnant or not be passionate about the impact they have on their organization. IT professionals should embrace new technologies, such as migrating to the cloud or introducing innovative collaborative software, and be willing to share new developments with the rest of the company.
Build your soft skills at UAB
At the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, the online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems program can prepare you for the next steps in your career.
If you truly want to combine your dual passions for business and technology, an online BS in Information Systems may be right for you. You will learn about database management systems, information systems, information security management and certain non-technical skills, which can help you develop a stack that can translate into a new job or company. To learn more, reach out to an enrollment advisor today.