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Nick Gilmour

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Four Essential Soft Skills for Technology Professionals

There is a misconception in the industry, that technology professionals do not require most (if not all) the interpersonal skills that other careers require.  When you first think of a career in technology, do you imagine sitting alone, behind a screen programming, designing or working with data?

While those solitary kinds of roles do exist, as technology integrates with other important business channels and verticals, I.T. professionals (and executive leaders in I.T.) are increasingly expected to have essential soft skills.

At reesmarx, we are a global leader in recruiting talented technology executives and management professionals.  Even though technology departments deal with highly complex data, systems and programs, it is the interpersonal skills that corporations value as equal to necessary technical on-the-job experience.

We match in-demand technology executives to rewarding careers with high-growth organizations around the world, and we would like to share some of the top personal attributes that place our qualified candidates at the top of the list.

  1. Creativity

Do technology professionals need to have innate creative skills, to land jobs at some of the most prominent corporations around the world?  Interestingly, creativity is one of the hardest and heavily sought after talents in technology professions.

Fast Company published an interesting article in 2014: “Why Top Tech CEOs Want Employees With Liberal Arts Degrees”.   The author reflects back to a moment in 2010, where the late Steve Jobs commented “for technology to be truly brilliant, it must be coupled with artistry” and in reference to Apple’s success, “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

Innovation is the secret to the success of leading global technology services and consumer brands.  But to be different and unique from the competition, requires a creative approach, a facet that has not until now, been a requirement for technology professionals.   It is also rare to combine both right brain and left brain skills, in one employee; the unicorn that many technology businesses are seeking.

  1. Communication

No matter what facet or niche role you build your technology career in, the ability to articulate ideas, and listen acutely to identify problems (and solutions) is key.   For the technology professional, face to face communication is equally as important as real time messaging, texting and emailing.

If technology candidates are experts within their field, why would they need to have the dynamic, effective social skills stereotypically reserved for other specialties, such as public relations, marketing, advertising or sales?  Because digital transformation has done more than bring businesses into the race for tech superiority, it has forced organizations to eliminate the silos that have existed traditionally, between those departments in the past.   Sales, marketing, advertising and customer service are inseparably linked daily to internal technology teams, and while they may not speak the same procedural language, they must be able to communicate in an integrated way through all channels for productivity.

  1. The Ability to Adapt

The technology industry is rapidly changing, as new methods, software, hardware and competitive needs keep pace with ecommerce, and delivery of products and services to businesses or end user customers.  Technology employees at all levels must be agile, continuously learning and upgrading skills to avoid becoming obsolete, in terms of competitive skills.

Working within the technology industry is exciting, and full of career advancement opportunities; professionals are in high-demand in virtually every major job market.  But the process of continuous learning is not one that is suited to all professionals; there must be a personal drive to get on top, and stay on top, through constant learning and improvement.   And if certain skills are no longer acquired, the agility to retrain and move in a new direction within the sector is critical.

Technology professionals are constantly learning, constantly growing, and employed in a field where new innovations can sunset their skills, if they do not keep pace, and demonstrate the ability to adapt.

  1. Stress Management

Many careers in technology place staff in a high-stakes situation, where data compromise can cost organizations large sums of money.   Whether it is in the field of I.T. security, and providing a high-performance network that protects proprietary information and transactions, to website and ecommerce, and even data administration; it’s bad news and costly when a company has an I.T. issue, or a security problem, and the pressure resides with the I.T. team.

For all our reliance on technology in life and business functions, hardware and software are never perfect when it comes to performance.  Can you lead when your employer is losing thousands of dollars by the second?   Can you stay calm and focused in the face of a hack or data breach?  Executives in I.T. leadership not only have to lead in stressful situations, they must manage global organizational expectations of the technical team, while handling problems.   Stress management ranks very high on the list of “must have” candidate qualities.

If you are employed within the technology sector, what other essential skills do you think contribute to the career success of I.T. professionals?  Leave us a comment and share your industry insights.  Join us every Tuesday for a discussion on LinkedIn.

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