Success in IT isn’t all about your tech expertise—cultivating “soft skills,” personal attributes that enable you to effectively interact with other people, will help keep you moving to the next level of your career.
But soft skills aren’t just important once you are in a job—recruiters and hiring managers want to see these attributes on display during the interview process. In fact, an analysis from Burning Glass data of job postings from March 1, 2017-February 28, 2018, shows that at every level, employers are looking for IT pros who have strong communication and writing skills and are capable of problem solving. And, as you move up the career ladder, you’ll need to go beyond the basics and learn higher-level soft skills. Here, Colleen Hughes, director of Human Resources at CompTIA, provides her insight into what to focus on and when.
Landing Your First IT Job
Want to get hired and be successful in an entry-level IT position? Your tech skills will get you the interview, but strong communication skills will get you the job.
“When I interview anyone—for IT or other positions—they have to have a certain level of comfort talking with individuals. They also need to be able to listen and fully answer questions,” said Colleen.
After that, teamwork and problem solving are key. “We look to hire IT staff members who can work within a team, enthusiastically take on projects and challenges, and are willing to ask the right questions to get to the root cause of a problem.”
Getting to The Next Level
After a few years of experience, IT pros may begin thinking about their next position, taking on management responsibilities or the possibility of a promotion.
According to Colleen, IT staff who are likely to get tapped for a promotion have already proven that they are team players and are showing that they have the capability to lead. “IT professionals who want to grow into a management position must step up and volunteer for projects. They need to be someone who can identify roadblocks and workarounds and understands how to prioritize projects and tasks. When we see other members of the team consistently seeking out an individual for direction and advice, we know that person has the potential to be a leader,” said Colleen.
Stepping into a Leadership Role
For IT pros who set their sights on senior-level positions, like CIO or department directors, highly developed soft skills, such as relationship building, are even more critical in order to be a successful leader in an organization.
“Being able to listen—really actively listen—is key. No one is going to be successful as a CIO if they aren’t connecting with their team—and that requires listening,” said Colleen. “Outside of their own team, a senior-level IT pro needs to be able to work with other departments to come up with solutions, to collaborate and communicate, and to help forward their team’s goals and move projects forward.”
Building the Skills
CompTIA AITP helps IT pros gain and strengthen the business and soft skills they need to successfully navigate and grow in their careers. CompTIA AITP members receive exclusive access to more than 1,400 on-demand, expert-led business courses on Lynda.com. Learn more about this benefit and join today.
CompTIA AITP members can login to the members-only site to access BizLibrary playlists with soft skills and business courses tailored to the needs of entry-, mid-, and senior-level IT pros.