Being successful in the IT industry relies on more than just being certified. Don’t get me wrong, you do need certifications to stand a chance of being employed in this industry, but you shouldn’t rely on these alone to forge a lucrative career.
Soft skills play a big part in your career, but what are they? Soft skills are a combination of social skills, communication skills, people skills, attitude and character – they’re essentially how we work with other people, talk to other people and achieve. We develop soft skills throughout our childhood and adapt them depending on our environment. They work together with our hard skills – these are the skills that are specific learned activities that we can be measured on, like maths skills and reading ability.
Once you’ve developed the hard skills you need for your career aspirations (like HTML and CSS if you’re looking to be a developer, or routing and switching if you’re looking to be a network specialist), you’ll need to identify and hone the soft skills you need to get through the interview and into your new job.
Let’s explore the soft skills you need for your career in IT:
The job advert
Chances are, if you’re looking for a job, you’ve seen your fair share of job adverts. Now cast your mind back…what were the listed requirements?
“Ability to work to tight deadlines.”
“Can use own initiative.”
“Must be a creative thinker.”
“Be comfortable liaising with clients.”
They probably all sound familiar. But, do they mean anything? Are they there to pad out the job advert? Does the employer actually want these attributes in a candidate?
Of course! It’s all well and good having the technical skills, but if you’re not the type
of person the employer is looking for, you won’t be successful here. And that’s by no means a personal dig – these are the soft skills that are needed to carry out the role effectively, so they don’t seem so pointless after all!
Let’s decipher the job ad jargon…
“Ability to work to tight deadlines.” Translation: You get stuff done on time, without having a meltdown
When you’re working in a busy and dynamic environment, time management is a skill many people use on a daily basis. You’ll need to juggle different projects with varying deadlines and competing priorities, without losing your head.
Improve your time management by actively structuring projects – assign a timescale to the project and anticipate what challenges could arise down the line. Then structure another one. You’ll have to learn how to prioritise each project and manage your time to ensure both are delivered on time.
“Can use own initiative.” Translation: Won’t sit around waiting for instruction
No-one wants to be hand held throughout their day – sure you might need some training in your new role, but your employer wants to know you can be independent. Taking initiative means you won’t be sat around waiting for someone to tell you what to do, for every minute of your working day.
Show you’ve got initiative by demonstrating your ability to think for yourself – when you first arrive at the office in the morning, get responding to emails. If you’re in doubt of what you should be doing, simply ask! That shows just as much initiative as taking it upon yourself to get tasks done!
“Must be a creative thinker.” Translation: Can bring ideas to the table and problem solve
Without wanting to sound cliché, being a creative thinker means you can think outside the box (sorry). Not going for an obvious solution might mean you actually solve the problem in a better way.
Highlight to your employer that you’re a creative thinker by bringing new ideas to the table – if you’ve noticed that something could be done differently or better, voice up! You’ll stand out as someone who can problem solve and offer up new ideas.
“Be comfortable liaising with clients.” Translation: Can talk to clients professionally and communicate ideas without freezing up or being rude
It’s all well and good being able to talk the tech chat, but if it bamboozles your client it’s irrelevant. Technical language of course has its place in the office and with your colleagues – but you need to be able to talk to people of all levels and technical knowledge. If you can’t comfortably sit down with someone who has no technical know-how and effectively explain a project with them, that’s something you’ll need to work on.
Equally, if you’re a nervous wreck talking to someone you’re unfamiliar with, this can cause problems too. Remember you’re the expert and they’re just another person. If you’re not comfortable meeting new people, practise what you’re going to say – you’ll have that to fall back on in your meetings.
Show you’re a competent communicator by keeping verbal and written communication clear and concise – show you understand your audience by tailoring what you say and how you say it. Think before you speak, listen to what others have to say and consider other opinions to show just how strong a candidate you are!
If you’ve already got those soft skills to be a success but need to hone your hard skills, an IT course could be the perfect match. With courses in software development, infrastructure security, web development, network technology and security technology, you can develop your knowledge in line with your career aspirations.
The Training Room offer 3 year’s career support as standard, so you’ll be best placed to interview with our corporate partners – including Arrows Group, NTT Data and GCI Group.
Submit an enquiry to learn more