Forget the myth of the socially awkward IT professional. Although strong technical skills are essential for any information technology position, soft skills are important, too. If you’re interviewing for an IT job, plan to demonstrate interpersonal skills like communication, teamwork, and project management.
Even if you’re highly introverted or prefer to work on your own, you probably already have many of these people skills. The key is to recognize their importance and learn how to showcase them in your resume, cover letters, and during job interviews.
What Are IT Soft Skills?
Information technology is a wide field with diverse job titles requiring very different levels of education and training. Some are engineers with PhDs, and others are tech support specialists with certificate or associate degree. Regardless, those working in IT often forget that it is not enough to have the right technical skills and software proficiencies.
Job descriptions often require IT professionals to interact with others, manage resources, and even lead companies at an executive level.
Even if you've got solid hard skills, employers will evaluate your soft skills as you move through the hiring process. For many roles, you'll need hybrid skills—a combination of technical and non-technical skills.
Types of IT Soft Skills
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.
- Oral Communication
- Written Communication
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 look for tech professionals who are able to conceive unique solutions.
IT projects can 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.
- Project Management
- Stress Management
- Problem Sensitivity
- Process Improvement
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 a client. Listen attentively to any feedback you receive and be open to making necessary changes to improve satisfaction.
- Fast Learner
- Quick Thinking
- Attention to Detail
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 leadership 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.
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.
- Reaching Consensus
- Problem Sensitivity
- Awareness for Diversity in Religion and Ethnicity
- Conflict Management
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.
- Public Speaking
More IT Soft Skills
- Logical Thinking
- Goal Oriented
- Ongoing Improvement
- Picking Up on Patterns
- Ability to Work Independently
- Follow Directions
- Emotional Intelligence
- Research Solutions
- Building and Managing Expectations
How to Make Your Skills Stand Out
HIGHLIGHT SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: Mention one or two of the skills listed above and give specific examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits in prior work.
MENTION SKILLS IN YOUR JOB INTERVIEW: Keep the top skills listed above in mind during your interview and be prepared to give examples of how you've exemplified each.