Nearly 60% of employers say that what their organization lacks is soft skills.
Hiring managers today mourn the increasing soft skills gap in IT but as you navigate through your career, it is easy to focus on the hard skills that are required for tech roles. After all, it is your core technology skills that decide whether you’re qualified for a job or not. While it’s true that tech skills are important if you want to stand apart in today’s highly competitive workplace, either as a leader or an individual contributor you need more.
Today’s well-rounded professional cannot be a one trick pony. Even the tech expert must possess some key soft skills to be truly valuable to modern-day organizations.
Here are 5 key soft skills even experts must possess if they want to really get ahead in their professional career, no matter how technically capable they are:
- Interpersonal skills: It takes all sorts of people to make a world, especially the tech world. From geeks to slow learners, entrepreneurs to strong-minded individuals – if you want to move ahead in your professional career, you need to be able to work alongside all kinds of people, and yet stick to your sense of perspective. Although as a technical expert, you might be a master at coding, but to advance as a leader, you need to hone your ability to work with and through others. Not just that, you should also be capable of understanding the nuances of the culture and workstyle of your co-workers. This is essential if you need to inspire your teams, manage conflict, cultivate diverse perspectives, and give the feedback necessary to rapidly move your team towards shared goals.
- Creativity: Several technology functions, like coding, today require out-of-the-box thinking. In that light, creativity is the skill that differentiates between those who merely follow the book, and those who genuinely think solutions. The impactful employee is one who can consistently invent new solutions or make new connections. This is not possible without creativity. The business environment in general and the technology world, in particular, are constantly evolving. Businesses need a lot of imagination and creative problem solving to keep up. The best solutions are often not obvious. This is why businesses are on the lookout for experts who are able to conceive unique solutions for the unforeseen problems of the future. If you want to be a professional who is an asset to the organization of tomorrow, then you must possess the power of creativity.
- Empathy: Developers, and engineers who have a high degree of compassion use it to empower those around them. This is the age of collaboration and any business solution will involve many people. This means a coming together of people from different backgrounds, and different working styles. To be effective in such a scenario, it is critical to be able to walk in other people’s shoes and understand their challenges. Empathy is a must-have for those aspiring for functional or managerial leadership today. It increases the contribution you can make to your team while driving up the likelihood of collective success. You will also be in a better position to manage expectations and collaborate with stakeholders with different views on the best solution. By being open to different thoughts and alternative ideas, you can become the bridge between people and the catalyst to progress -an essential ingredient of the recipe for success of the whole organization.
- Collaboration and communication: Collaboration and communication are critical at all levels. No matter what role you play, you will always be working with people toward a collective goal. You will always need to explain your position and objectives to colleagues from backgrounds different to yours and come to an agreement on the vision, design or functionality of the task at hand. The ability to communicate effectively is supremely important, not just with your team, but also your clients, and even the top management. The successful professional of tomorrow knows that being able to articulate reasoned opinions is essential to being able to establish a strong personal brand within an organization. Another key to success is being open to work with and learn from others. This mix is essential to being a great asset to any organization.
- Adaptability: In the tech-driven business world, disruption is always lurking just around the corner. With customer expectations, technological progress, market trends, and the competitor landscape constantly evolving, businesses need to be Agile. Perhaps the most valuable skill you can exhibit as an employee is adaptability. Understanding that change is an integral part of your work, and successfully navigating through the constantly changing landscape is vital. Plans can, and will, change, projects can change trajectory without notice, and business objectives may transform. To be successful, you need to be flexible, accept the changes and immediately look for creative solutions – without apprehension or resentment. Employees who have a thirst for knowledge and who are open to change will really excel.
According to a recent study, 94% of recruiters believe that an employee with stronger soft skills has a better chance of being promoted to a leadership position as compared to one with more years of experience but poor soft skills. Although hard skills are the foundation of the value you deliver to your company, they will only get you so far in today’s organization. You need to develop people skills, creativity, empathy, communication and collaboration, and adaptability. This is not just to qualify for a job, but to be successful in whatever you do. The message for even tech and functional experts is clear -complement your technical skills with soft skills and enhance your value beyond specific job responsibilities. The question you have to ask yourself is, are you ready?