The Six Essential Soft Skills for IT Professionals

Not too long ago, I was approached by someone wanting to share some thoughts and information more broadly. After an email conversation with this person, I decided to take a chance and afford her a guest blogger hat.

If you feel particularly moved or inspired by the write-up that follows (regardless of direction), please let me know. If you would like to see more of this type of content, please leave a comment to that effect.

And now I turn things over to our guest writer/blogger, Lisa. Sean out!

The Six Essential Soft Skills for IT Professionals

Having high levels of technical skill in IT is great. In fact, CNBC reports that big companies like Facebook and Google are looking at skills rather than college degrees, which is a big step towards providing opportunities for deserving candidates who can’t afford college tuition.

But in any industry, soft skills are also as necessary as technical skills, since the former can ensure an enjoyable collaboration with your teammates and a better work experience overall. Unfortunately, these skills are often undervalued, and corporations don’t hold as many training seminars on them compared to hard skills. Thus, we’ve compiled a list of soft skills IT professionals should have to interact well with other people and thrive in their career.

Empathy

Often seen as a given attribute, empathy is a social skill that needs to be exercised like any muscle. However, in an era dominated by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the importance of social sciences is often overlooked, especially in an increasingly digital world. But make no mistake, Maryville University’s overview of the social sciences highlights how these can empower you to be better at changing society — it’s not just about the tech you build or the tools you use, but on why you do things at all. Social sciences highlight the connections that bind our society together, and help you develop a sense of empathy that will make your work not only valuable for whoever uses it, but also the wider social groups within your team and customer base.

Teamwork

Have you ever heard the phrase “teamwork makes the dream work”? While some IT professionals may prefer to work alone, being able to work well with others and recognize each other’s strengths is a skill that is invaluable in IT. Teamwork fosters a positive environment, and also motivates not just yourself, but the people around you to align with each other and get the ball rolling. After all, behind every successful project is an equally successful team.

Being detail-oriented

In the IT industry (or any industry, for that matter), it pays to be detail-oriented — and in some IT roles, this is a vital skill. This is where you have the ability to repeatedly achieve a level of accuracy, thoroughness, and consistency when doing and accomplishing your tasks. It also means making a conscious effort to understand not just the effects, but the causes of the problems you encounter. As you practice this skill, it will eventually become second nature, and you’ll end up knowing how to pay attention to all the little details without noticing it.

Creativity

Listed by LinkedIn as the number one in-demand soft skill by employers, organizations are looking for creative employees who can build new solutions and provide perspective to the workplace. You may think being creative just means thinking outside the box, but it also manifests in having the enthusiasm to approach new projects in a way that is different than you or others typically would.

Clear communication

Our founder Sean McDonough explains that communication is the most critical skill in everything we do — and this doesn’t just mean having good verbal communication, but also clear and compelling written communication skills. After all, with the sheer number of emails, proposals, and documents you have to go through, being able to communicate with co-workers and clients on what exactly has to happen is crucial.

Negotiation

Last but not least is knowing how to negotiate. When you’re working with clients or even just your boss, sometimes you’ll have to negotiate deadline extensions or even your salary — and knowing how to do this well is an essential skill to achieve a win-win outcome. People with successful negotiation skills often come in with a goal and some persuasive data, along with a ready ear to listen to the other person’s side. That’s because negotiation isn’t just about winning it your way, but about meeting halfway and reaching a compromise.

There’s no better way to start learning these skills than to simply do them. Do your best to communicate clearly with your peers, show empathy in situations, and pay attention to detail. Practice your negotiation skills where possible, and don’t be afraid to show your creativity. When you know how to appreciate and gain these skills, you’ll be fully equipped to stand out as an IT professional.

Written exclusively for SharePointInterface.com
by Lisa Martin