The 7 most essential soft skills for techies
There has long been a misconception surrounding the skills of those in tech roles. When depicted in entertainment they are shown as nerdy, brainiacs with little to no social skills. While it may be humorous on-screen, this incorrect depiction of employees in technical roles has caused real-life consequences for those working them. The idea that people in tech do not possess or need soft skills is not only present in the education systems that lack soft skills curriculums but in those in charge of hiring for companies as well.
Soft skills don’t stop at creative or people-facing jobs. There are many soft skills that can not only come in handy but are essential for success in tech roles as well.
Here are 7 of the most important soft skills for techies.
Strong communication skills are essential in most technical roles, yet they are rarely emphasised in training, hiring or education. A tech professional’s ability to discuss both technical and business requirements with those who have a technical background as well as those who don’t is essential to confirming that everyone from programmer to client is on the same level of understanding. Those in tech roles must possess the ability to switch the way they present information depending on who they are speaking to, something that requires a strong set of communication skills.
Whether running a team of software developers, supporting a business within an IT role or writing code for a website, effective time-management is an essential soft skill in any tech role. Tech professionals tend to receive a seemingly never-ending flow of tasks, requests, projects and complaints, all of which must be prioritised and handled in a timely manner. Delegation, goal-setting, organisation and multi-tasking are crucial components to managing the many tasks that fall on the shoulders of tech professionals.
For many tech professionals, writing skills come in useful in an obvious way when creating accurate long-form code, but there are further aspects of technical roles for which good writing goes a long way. With so much of today’s communication happening online, many tech professionals end up troubleshooting or describing instructions to both their tech-savvy and less tech-aware colleagues and clients via email or some form of instant message. This means that tech professionals must develop their ability to accurately describe very complex information in a simplified, easy to comprehend way. Strong writing skills can avoid confusion and save time for everyone in a business.
As every tech professional knows, when it comes to technology, problems come up. Whether it’s a colleague’s slow-running PC, a difficult request from a client, or a server crash, the ability to come up with new and innovative solutions to an array of ongoing problems is a skill of utmost importance for tech professionals.
Adaptability and resilience
In the same way that tech is constantly evolving, so must those who work with tech. Adaptable employees are able to adjust to a rapidly changing working environment without compromising performance. As well as keeping up with trends and new programs, employees in tech roles must also be resilient when it comes to setbacks and not allow failure to get in the way of the success of a project. Adaptable employees not only handle the many short-term tasks that are often given to those in tech roles but also tend to be more successful in the long term.
The nature of most technical roles would suggest those who perform them usually adopt an independent working style. While this may be true some of the time, large scale projects often require many individual people to come together and build something as one powerful unit. Teamwork skills such as brainstorming, feedback, problem-solving, delegation, leadership and communication can lead techies to new heights in terms of innovation, creativity, and success.
Empathy is defined as “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another”, and, as it turns out, is very useful in the tech space. Not only must techies develop an understanding for their colleagues, they must also comprehend the needs of a client or customer which requires the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes. Particularly over the last decade, tech has done this in a large way. User experience (UX) professionals anticipate how people will use a website or product as well as what steps should be taken to provide a meaningful and relevant experience to users. Understanding people and becoming aware of their wants and needs takes a great deal of empathy, a skill which, although often not focused on in training or education, can be developed.
With AI on the heels of many tech-driven roles, the ability to utilise soft skills will become increasingly important in roles such as IT, software development and UX. As these essential interpersonal skills are not a focus in education compared technical skills themselves, it is up to companies to ensure that those who continuously improve and develop innovative technology can do the same with their own soft skills.