What does an IT career like? To the average person, it’s all about tech-savvy individuals coding, understanding computer networks, troubleshooting, and so on. The importance of soft skills is rarely, if ever, discussed.
However, like in any other professional field, soft skills do play a critical role in IT success. It might have something to do with the fact that tech personnel are expected to be team players and collaborate with other employees within the organization who don’t understand computers.
Unfortunately, while there is an abundance of technical knowledge in the IT field, personality and enthusiasm are sometimes sorely lacking. So, if you’re trying to become a pro in the tech field, it would be in your best interest to develop these seven soft skills:
1. Always be a team player
Modern businesses need technology to survive and succeed. How? Well, technology is needed to develop and support applications, and these applications, in turn, support the company itself. Thus, a “lone wolf” routine isn’t the right fit for a career in IT; you must be willing to work properly with the members of different teams and ensure zero hiccups in business operations.
Collaboration is especially required when there is a conflict of interest between separate groups. You need to familiarize yourself with the workflows of the other teams and work collaboratively across every business line. It helps if you possess good conflict-resolution skills because then you’re capable of mediating tense situations within the workplace.
IT often gets a bad rep due to the professionals who tend to be obnoxious, rude, and negative towards others. Too often, whenever a tech guy (or gal) discovers that someone is confused regarding tech-related issues, they are surprisingly relentless in making these people the object of ridicule and the butt of many jokes.
So, instead of providing guidance and supporting members of the same organization who need help, IT personnel use them as a crutch to feel better and superior about themselves. The truth is, few people realize that the bulk of an IT job involves helping others. A lot of people have limited knowledge of computers, and you will only hurt your career if you make your colleagues and coworkers feel stupid over something as simple as a tech-related question.
Instead, you should try to support them to the best of your abilities and maintain a positive demeanor. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be a ball of sunshine at all times — after all, you’re only human — but focusing more on the positive side of work rather than the negatives will not only make you more likable and approachable but establish you as a real asset to the company.
3. Innovative problem-solving talents
Technology is evolving fast, and if you want to keep up with all the changes, you must have an open mind when it comes to adapting to new problems. After all, your job is to find solutions to computer-related problems, and if you don’t understand the issue, you cannot be expected to come up with a decent fix.
Learn more about new updates and viruses, and read up on common malfunctions or breaches taking place in the industry. Figuring out how to solve these challenges often relies on creative skills that exceed the limits of technical know-how. You need to understand that technology has always dealt with innovation and creativity, and all the successful businesses are using these skills to create a competitive advantage. So, if you want to advance further in the IT industry, you need to hone your problem-solving talents.
A tech role involves interacting with individuals whose knowledge of technology is less than you. So, you must be capable of explaining intricate concepts in an easily digestible manner. Apart from dumbing down the effects of a tech problem on the business, you should mention how technology can support the different business functions.
Keep in mind that technology needs to support the various business operations. So, when you’re interacting with the organizational management, whether it’s for new equipment or a bigger budget, get the point across in a way that allows them to see just how valuable IT is to the overall success of the company. In this case, soft skills may do better than a hard sell.
One of the most important soft skills that often goes by the wayside in a busy business environment is empathy. Learn to listen to others in your workplace and figure out what problems they are facing. If there is a way for IT to resolve the issue, make it known. Always attempt to go “above and beyond” what is expected of you, and not just for your boss but for clients as well. If you understand how a particular problem is affecting others, make sure the solution caters to their requirements. Above all, take joy and delight in whatever you develop. If you exhibit compassion, drive, and empathy for the issues faced by end-users, you will be sure to climb up the corporate ladder.
Whether you’re meeting the president of the company or you’re showing off your finished project to clients or attending a simple IT conference, your capacity to express yourself coherently and exude confidence in front of a big group of people will contribute towards your reputation as an IT leader. Plus, your networking efforts will receive a huge boost as well.
While creating a technical presentation, plan the material carefully beforehand and practice what you’re going to say. When you’re confident about the material, you feel confident about yourself and that is evident during the presentation. A great way to develop your presentation skills is to watch other speakers delivering their speeches and listing what works and what doesn’t.
7. Leadership qualities
Not all of us are born leaders, but if you’re eager to make your mark in the big, bad world of IT, you must be willing to lead your team from time to time. Gauge the strengths and drawbacks of your team members, and designate work to people who you think can handle the tasks efficiently.
On top of that, you must encourage your teammates to work harder, settle any squabbles in a fair and impartial manner, and accept more responsibility to push your team towards success. When you walk into a room full of executives and employees, learn to take charge, and sort out the situation. For this reason, a calm, analytical mind and a robust constitution are important.
Hone your soft skills
Excelling in an IT career has more to do than simply being good at computers. You need to hone the seven soft skills mentioned above on your own if you want to make your presence felt within the organization. Apart from sharing your tech knowledge with others, you should work well with others and clearly explain what sort of problems are plaguing the business.
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