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Why are Soft Skills essential in IT? Learn how to improve your performance.

5 min read

05-02-2020 15:39

Let’s start by explaining what soft skills actually are:

Soft Skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, among others, that enable people to work well together, have a good performance, and achieve their goals by adding some extra "points" and complementing their hard skills.

Soft skills characterise how people interact with each other.

Soft skills include (among others)

Adaptability Creative thinking Networking Time management Problem-solving
Attitude Work ethic Decision making Motivation Critical thinking
Communication Teamwork Positivity Flexibility Conflict resolution

In Information technology (IT) there is a wide range of job positions, typically fulfilled by engineers, master degrees, certificates and other kinds of technical proven skills. Regardless, those working in IT often forget that it is not enough to know all the technical skills and software proficiencies but, if you pay attention to the generality of job descriptions, they often require IT professionals to interact with others, manage resources, and even lead companies at an executive level, and then, even if you are the most brilliant rocket star scientist, at some point, your soft skills are being evaluated.

For many roles there’s a need to have both technical, or hard, skills and soft one’s. That’s called hybrid skills which are a combination of non-technical and technical skills.


Why do we need soft skills?

So, ok, I know all about Java why do I need those so-called soft skills?
It’s easy to understand why employers want job candidates with particular hard skills.

If a Company needs to develop a database driven application, they’ll, obviously, need a database developer, or administrator, or both and maybe a Java developer. But the project will also need a front end developer, a project manager, someone from the sales department to deal with the customer, in fact a wide range of persons, personalities, competences, and… skills, in a word, a team.

As a team, everyone will need to engage with others in some way. Therefore, being able to interact well with others is crucial for the success of the individual role everyone is playing, and at the end, for the success of the team and the project.

That’s why we all need soft skills, they help facilitate human interactions.

“Soft skills are key to building relationships, gaining visibility, and creating more opportunities for advancement”, says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career-coaching firm Turning Point. And because those skills are mostly acquired over time, people who already have them are often seen as the ones that can diversify a company and help it run more efficiently.

Why do we need soft skills

 

Some of most important soft skills in IT are:


Communication

All of us had to write or answer to emails, make proposals, design and write documents, attend to meetings with stakeholders and many other kinds of interactions with other people.
As members of IT teams, we often have to explain technical processes in clear, easy-to-understand terms for customers, employers and/or other members of the team.
Therefore, a clear and compelling written communication is essential. Effective verbal communication is equally important.


Creativity

As IT professionals we 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. Who doesn’t want to have professionals who are able to conceive unique and out-of-the-box solutions?


Determination

Sometimes (!) projects have problems and drawbacks, be they technical, financial, issues with vendors, or one of many other reasons.
It’s of extreme importance for us as IT professionals to stay focused on the ultimate goal and continue to work towards that result, and to stay focused, determination will be needed.


Flexibility

Projects often suffer setbacks or unexpected changes, and we need to act fast in order to accept these changes and immediately look for creative solutions. At the same level we all need to be open to suggestions and feedback and be also open to make the necessary changes to improve satisfaction.


Leadership

Even if we are not in a management position, we’ll be often asked to manage something, even if only for a brief period. Managers must be able to delegate tasks and keep a constant focus on the end goal and therefore, it’s essential to know how to communicate, collaborate or encourage.


Negotiation

We are all negotiating at all times no matter if it’s a hiring decision, sell a product or even negotiating story points or a sprint backlog between the developer team and the product owner. Being able to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties is a great soft skill that will make you stand out.


Presentation

A presentation can be anything from a one-to-one conversation to a department meeting or a lecture. Whatever the form, we all need to be able to express our ideas clearly to others. Even if our ideas are great, no one will be able to appreciate or understand them if we cannot explain them effectively.


Teamwork

A company’s success is rarely dependent on one person doing something all by him/herself. Success is the result of many people working toward a common goal.
Also, having or making friends at work can boost job satisfaction. Being able to collaborate well with your co-workers strengthens the quality of our work.

 

Thanks for reading and I hope you liked it!

If you feel that you have what it takes to work with us, try our careers page. Or, If you want to get a quote from our team of specialists, get in touch here!

Nuno Batista
Written by Nuno Batista

Working in IT since 2002, starting from selling and repairing PCs with the responsibility of coordinate the store team, until the nowadays Web and database development projects, and most recently Syone team manager at BNP Paribas Securities Services.

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