Acquiring and retaining a job in IT can be a daunting task if one relies on hardcore technical skills alone. Although hands-on experience, certifications, etc. are essential requirements for an IT professional, soft skills–also known as “people skills”—are just as important.
The ability to communicate effectively, to negotiate/resolve conflict, and to work well in teams is critical to one’s success, especially in leadership positions. CIO Staff Writer Sharon Florentine provides the following insight on the matter in her latest article:
The Value of Soft Skills
“Technologists who have these soft skills are better able to understand and accurately convey the business value of IT projects to other, non-technical stakeholders, get their buy-in and support and deliver more successful projects,” says Matt Brosseau, director of Information Technology, Instant Alliance, a recruiting, staffing and consulting firm based in Chicago.
Soft Skills Drive Engagement and Retention
There’s a direct relationship between soft skills and workers’ effectiveness, and greater effectiveness on the job translates to better overall business results.
“When people work more efficiently and effectively together, that means their organizations see better results and they’re more likely to stay,” says Kevin King, founder and CEO of Transformation Point.
Soft Skills Are Hard to Find
But even as engagement and retention become more important, the soft skills that can help increase those metrics become harder to find. SHRM’s 2014 survey of economic conditions and recruiting skills gaps found that the 2,583 respondents cited critical thinking/problem-solving (40 percent), professionalism/work ethic (38 percent), leadership (34 percent) and written communications (27 percent) as the top four applied skills gaps.
Experts agree that technical skills can be taught much more easily than soft skills. If you have workers with great communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills, hold onto them. You can have the best technology and processes in the world, but if your people aren’t able to communicate about them, if they aren’t effectively demonstrating teamwork, critical thinking and emotional intelligence, it doesn’t help your business succeed.
For more information on the need for soft skills in the IT arena, see the full CIO article.
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