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Soft Skill Tips To Help You Grow Your IT Career

Alot of junior IT professionals make the assumption that their talents alone will get them far in the tech workforce. Sorry to be  the bearer of bad news, but your talent is meaningless in the tech workforce. There are several things that you should do inorder to succeed and continue to grow your IT career, however all of them can be summed up in two simple categories (technical skills and soft skills). Technical skills are self explanatory: simply stated, master your craft and obtain certs/credentials to showcase your IT knowledge.  This blog will cover the  steps/actions needed to improve your soft skills.

What Are Soft-Skills And Why Do You Need Them ?

Soft Skills - Richard Koranteng

Soft skills are “personal attributes” that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. It is an essential skill to have, especially in the work force. Think about your interactions at work:

  • you have to interact with co-workers
  • you have to interact with customers
  • you have to communicate with a variety of people/vendors inorder accomplish goals

It’s a no brainier why you need soft skills along side technical skills inorder to succeed in IT, but very few IT professionals ever consider or even know how to perfect their soft skills. Your ability to perfect your soft skills will make you an ideal employee. Here are four soft-skills that I think are necessary for the ideal IT professional. The list compiled below is just to give you some ideas on how you can strategically become improve your soft-skills.  The four tips discussed in this blog is just to give you a sense of how to approach your pursuit to perfect your soft-skills. This list does not encompass all of the possible actions that can be taken on your part. I highly recommend that you take some time to consider what other actions you can add to this list. 

1. Be Accountable

Great IT professionals are often the ones that are engaged. This does not mean staying long hours in the office so that managers can see “how hard you work”: we all know that long hours do not necessarily mean results. Rather, the ideal IT professional ensures accountability by volunteering to spearhead projects/tasks and provides transparency every step of the way. Sometimes this may involve extra hours or extra training, however you will recognize the rock star IT professional as a team member who consistently do what it takes to get the job done. They are accountable and don’t come up with excuses.

2. Be a Leader

A great IT professional should be a leader in his/her respective technology field. Inorder to be a good leader, you MUST grow and develop others. It does not matter if your are the senior IT person in-house or if your are the junior IT person: you can still help grow and develop your co-workers. Obviously it is much easier for senior IT professionals to grow/develop the junior IT professionals, however it is important to keep in mind that growth is not limited to job title. Here are some tips on how you can help grow and develop your co-workers…

  • Knowledge sharing – do not keep relevant information/solutions to yourself. I recommend sharing such information in the form of a well designed document and/or presentation.
  • Encourage teammates – encourage your co-workers to be engaged. This means being proactive instead of reactive, as well as staying current with relevant training. 
  • One team, One goal – do not to put your personal task ahead of the greater need of your teammates. If there is an urgent issue that requires your expertise then prioritize that over your individual task/project which may not be as urgent.
  • Lead by example – emphasize your rock star qualities through your actions. As my mentor once told me, “deeds, not words”
  • Be approachable – good leaders are “people friendly” and are always ready to help colleagues resolve issues (even if it is just by googling)

3. Be Solutions-Oriented

One thing that annoys managers more than anything is an employee who complains about issues but never provides a solution. In all honesty I think most people dislike such a person. You should never aspire to be labeled as the “complainer” at work. Rather than just complaining, discuss your technology pain points with your team and always be ready to offer effective solutions that can tested. You should always offer answers along side your questions/problems. Your answer may not always be correct (although you should strive for effective solution), but it shows a willingness to try to solve problems rather than looking to someone else to solve them. 

4. Handle Stressful Situations Diplomatically

Stress is an inherent part of IT environment. If you’ve never been stressed as an IT professional, then you simply haven’t been in IT long enough. Everybody gets stressed at some point in their work place, however it is not the fact that you are stressed that will make or break you…it is how you go about handling your stress that will reveal your rock star abilities. Handling stressful situations in IT can be done with three simple steps:

  • Effective communication – instead of arguing, have a meeting with workers to address the issue and agree on a solution.
  • No point to prove – do not play the childish game of trying to prove a point…even if you are right and the other person is wrong. There are alot of egos and personalities involved in the IT field and often times peoples egos get in the way of collaboration. Do not fall victim to the ego pool. 

It’s not the load that will weight you down, but rather how you carry it.