Some job specs can read like a child’s slightly over-optimistic letter to Santa. Even the most experienced technologists would struggle to fully live up to the expectations of employers, who can often be looking for a virtually impossible wishlist of skills and experience.
Employers these days want IT professionals who are able to fulfil their role straight out of the box, and very often it is obvious that the mindset of the recruiting manager is that, if they are shelling out on an expensive new member of staff, they want as much bang for their buck as possible.
It may be a candidates market, but that doesn’t mean that employers want anything but the best, and ROI is the name of the recruitment game these days. Though expectations often need to be managed and required skills lists honed in, we are also increasingly encouraging employers to think outside the box when it comes to making their next hire. So, if you baulk at the skills requirements for some roles, fear not.
The curse of filling big shoes
What employers can lose sight of when replacing a team member who is moving on, is that the hole this person leaves cannot necessarily be immediately and neatly filled by their successor. When employees have remained in a role for many years, their skills and knowledge have adapted and grown with the business and its needs. It often pays to remind employers of what that team member looked like in terms of a snapshot of their skills and experience when they first entered the role, and of the qualities that led them to acquire the skills they had upon leaving it. What’s most important when making a new hire isn’t necessarily their list of hard skills.
Your value is not merely the sum of your list of technical skills
When it comes to your personal career development, it’s obvious that you should want to focus on expanding and developing your core skills and broadening that list for your CV in the hopes you might match the wish lists of potential employers. Though those tech skills might get you hired, a lack of soft skills might keep you stuck in the same role – or worse.
We could fire off a list as long as our collective arm of hard skills that employers covet, but those are skills that you can develop on the job. In order to attain those skills and make career progress, there is a range of soft skills that are arguably much more important and provide employers with that ROI they are looking for – and you with the career progression you are dreaming of.
Here’s a list of the top six soft skills tech professionals need for a lengthy and prosperous career
Your ability to work as part of a broader team will help you stand out from the crowd. Even for programmers and analysts – notoriously roles for introverts who spend more time communicating with machines and data than people – the ability to understand your role in the wider context of an organisation and ability to collaborate and communicate will be greatly respected and appreciated. Communication skills and empathy are essential skills that contribute to your ability to work as a valued team member.
2. Positive Thinking
Are you a drain or a radiator? Positivity breeds positivity, and the opposite is also true. When in the presence of a drain, people feel less optimistic and energetic, and when you surround yourself with positive people you experience positive outlooks, positive methods of dealing with adversity and challenges. Positive thinking is more than just thinking good thoughts and thinking all will be well with the world. It’s an outlook that takes commitment if it doesn’t come naturally to you, it is something you can change with practice and self-awareness.
When the proverbial hits the fan, do you flounder or flourish? How you to take criticism? Are you able to dust yourself off and move on after a disagreement? Resilience is an important trait of successful people. The ability to receive feedback graciously and use it to make positive changes is an imperative attribute of anyone who wants to craft an upwards career trajectory in any field. The ability to handle stress and remain calm and level-headed is equally crucial when dealing with complex systems and environments where what can go wrong inevitably does.
4. Innovation and Creativity
Creativity isn’t only for creative technologists – the ability to use innovation and original thinking to produce ideas and strategies that help businesses overcome challenges and find competitive advantages will be more valuable to your employer than proficiency in yet another programming language.
5. Critical thinking
The ability to engage in reflective independent thinking is essential for those working in the tech sector. Rational, logical thought, the ability to connect ideas and being an active seeker of learning and information rather than someone who just receives or processes information will propel your career forward.
6. Commercial awareness
Commercial awareness is essential when you work in the IT business, and can differentiate you from your colleagues who may be even more technically skilled than you are. Understanding how to develop processes isn’t enough, you need to understand how technology can transform a business’s strategies and your place in the bigger picture. Increasingly, focus on customer experience puts the end-user of your business’ products or services at the centre of all aspects of your business – everyone needs to understand the part they play and the value of their contribution to the customer.
Don’t lose sight of who you are and the qualities you have when selling yourself. Employers can mould you and your skillset as to meet their requirements but without the determination to succeed and ability to learn and an inquisitive mind, your career trajectory might be disappointing.
If you are a technologist who understands your value lies in who you are as much as what you know, we would love to talk to you about your career goals. Contact Intec Select to discuss where you are and where you want to be.