Top Information Technology (IT) Soft Skills

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Strong technical skills are essential for any IT (information technology) position. However, IT employees also need soft skills, sometimes known as interpersonal skills. IT professionals need to be able to interact successfully with customers and vendors, colleagues and managers, to manage departments, and to convey their ideas to others. Even if you've got solid hard skills, employers will also evaluate your soft skills as you move through the hiring process.

Here are the top soft skills needed for most IT jobs. Developing these skills and emphasizing them in your job application and interview will help you to rise above the competition.

Top 10 Information Technology Soft Skills

Communication
With the number of emails, proposal and design documents an IT professional writes, clear and compelling written communication is essential. Effective verbal communication is equally important. As an IT employee, you often have to explain technical processes in clear, easy-to-understand terms for customers and employers. You must also be able to explain your ideas in such a way as to make others want to support and finance your projects.

Creativity
IT professionals are constantly looking toward the future; anticipating and developing solutions for potential tech problems and needs. This sort of forward thinking requires a lot of imagination and creative problem solving. Employers therefore seek out tech professionals who are able to conceive unique solutions.

Determination
A number of IT projects stall because of a variety of issues: financial problems, issues with vendors, problems with software, hardware or processes, a lack of teamwork, or one of many other reasons. It is important for an IT professional to stay focused on the ultimate goal and continue to work toward that result. Beginning a project with a clear and realistic timeline and budget can help you achieve your ultimate goal. Your employer will be impressed with your ability not only to plan a project, but also to see it through to completion.

Flexibility
IT professionals often face setbacks or unexpected changes, ranging from a technical problem with their project to a last-minute issue with a vendor. You need to learn to be flexible, accepting these changes and immediately looking for creative solutions. Employers will appreciate this flexibility.

Similarly, you must be open to suggestions and feedback, whether from an employer or client. Listen attentively to any feedback you receive, and be open to making necessary changes to improve satisfaction.

Leadership
Even if you are not in a management position, you will often be asked to manage a project or team, if only for a brief period. Being a project manager requires strong communication skills, the ability to delegate tasks, and a constant focus on the end goal. As an IT professional, you may also be involved in client and vendor management. It is essential that you know how to communicate with clients and vendors effectively to ensure your company's needs are being met efficiently.

Listening
IT professionals not only need to communicate their own ideas, but also need to listen actively to others. It's important to listen closely to what the client or your employer wants so that you can give them exactly what they are asking for. Don't be afraid to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the other person.

Mentoring
IT professionals often find themselves teaching skills, either to employers, new employees or product users. An employer will appreciate an employee who can successfully walk someone through a technical process with clarity and patience.

Negotiation
No matter what your position in IT, you will need some form of negotiation skills, from making hiring decisions to collaborating with vendors or contractors to selling your idea to an organization. Being able to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties is a great soft skill that will make you stand out, particularly if you want to be promoted to a management position.

Presentation
A presentation can be anything from a one-on-one conversation to a department meeting or lecture. Whatever the form, you need to be able to articulate your ideas clearly to others. Even if your ideas are great, no one will be able to appreciate them if you cannot convey them effectively. Working on your approachability, verbal communication and your familiarity with presentation tools will help you to strengthen your presentation skills.

Teamwork
IT projects are often the work of a team of professionals rather than an individual. Therefore, teamwork is essential: you need to be able to communicate your ideas and listen to others' suggestions, and know when to take a leadership role and when to be a team player.

Tips for Using Skills Lists

You can use the skill words listed above as you search for jobs. For example, include some of the terms in your resume, especially in the description of your work history and your resume summary, if you have one.

You can also incorporate them into your cover letter. Mention one or two of the skills listed here and give specific examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits in prior work.

You can also use these words in your interview. Keep the top skills listed here in mind during your interview, and be prepared to give examples of how you've exemplified each one.

Each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully, and focus on skills listed by the employer. Also review our lists of skills listed by job and type of skill.