8 Non-Tech Skills IT Pros Need To Succeed - InformationWeek
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5/12/2016
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8 Non-Tech Skills IT Pros Need To Succeed

Communication and active listening don't normally come to mind when thinking of top skills for IT pros, but these "soft skills" can make a tremendous difference in building a successful career.
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(Image: Rawpixel Ltd/iStockPhoto)

(Image: Rawpixel Ltd/iStockPhoto)

IT pros have who have spent years honing technical skills to advance their careers might be surprised to find that there is another set of talents that is just as valuable that they may be lacking -- so-called "soft skills".

Each business has different demands for IT applicants when it comes to technical skills. However, all IT organizations share a need for professionals who can listen, collaborate, and communicate complex information.

These soft skills may not seem significant to IT workers who are focused on their technical expertise, but they can make a difference in whether or not you land your next job.

"The hard skills are important to get you the interview and qualify for the work, but the person who gets hired has the [technical] box checked and the ability to express and communicate at a very high level," said Rick Dionisio, president and owner of Ingenium, a tech and creative talent agency.

[Looking for a career boost? Read these 10 big data books.]

The problem is, most IT pros aren't aware of the importance of these soft skills.

Dionisio explained how when choosing between two candidates, a hiring manager is more likely to select the one who has mastered their soft skills -- even if the alternative candidate has superior technical capabilities.

Today's businesses aren't simply looking for IT pros who can take assignments, work by themselves, and leave at the end of the day. They want people who can collaborate with employees in different parts of the business, share their ideas, and be open to criticism.

What are some of the top soft skills to have as an IT pro today? Here, recruiters share the skills they've noticed are in high demand among employers. Do you have these skills? If so, have they made a difference in your career advancement or landing a job? Let us know in the comments below.

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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LeeB120
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LeeB120,
User Rank: Strategist
5/23/2016 | 7:05:39 PM
Re: Collaboration
@Vnewman2      Well, there is one reason.... When it's decided on by a committee no one person get's the blame when things go wrong versus one person doing it right or wrong.    Human nature - blame someone else and it's hard to blame someone when everyone makes the decision
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/23/2016 | 3:32:00 PM
Re: Collaboration

@vnewman2   I agree completely.  I remember during my undergrad years, some of my classes were project team based.  I remember how difficult it was to work with some people, even though I think that was the goal of making students work as a part of a team - to learn how to work with others.

To your point, while it is very competitive otherwise, many colleges are using this method of teaching.  I am not sure in the end it is all that beneficial.

People skills and working with others will be foisted upon you once you enter the workforce.

vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
5/23/2016 | 12:03:22 PM
Re: Collaboration
@Technocrati - I guess that's my real beef with the whole notion.  It is now almost assumed that "collaboration" is a necessity regardless of cirumstance.  American society as a whole has turned into a bunch of "collaboration lemmings."  

And what really doesn't make sense then, is the competitive nature of the American education (especially college/university) system where individual achievement is given the utmost importance.  How do you expect these kids to then go into the workforce and be able to "collaborate" when their entire lives they are taught to compete for everything?  It makes no sense.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2016 | 12:11:44 PM
Re: Collaboration
@vnewman2  I agree.  I think collaboration is overrated.  Sure if there is an roadblock, it is often good to have some "different eyes" look at the issue.  

But for the most part, I get more done when working on my own and I think most people function best this way.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/18/2016 | 8:00:12 AM
Re: Collaboration
I've been in positions in large organizations where much of the work was entrusted to me --- except for certain points at the beginning and end when "collaboration" was needed with stakeholders. And again, it comes down to certain peoples need to be involved for the sheer fact of it and the need to exert control. All politics!
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/18/2016 | 8:00:10 AM
Re: Collaboration
I've been in positions in large organizations where much of the work was entrusted to me --- except for certain points at the beginning and end when "collaboration" was needed with stakeholders. And again, it comes down to certain peoples need to be involved for the sheer fact of it and the need to exert control. All politics!
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
5/17/2016 | 2:20:59 PM
Re: Collaboration
@Broadway - Perhaps you are right in your clarification, I just find myself asking, "Why is it that we (in the US) assume collaboration is an inherently better process which yields higher quality results than just having folks just work alone?"  That is  - assuming that the project is able to completed in such a manner.

I find that I am often put in the position to "work with other people" on a project when I could have completed it faster and, IMO, better if I had just done it myself. 

To put it bluntly, why don't we trust in the effort of the individual?
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2016 | 10:28:51 PM
Re: Collaboration
vnewman, I don't think collaboration is forced. What I think that's forced is confirmation. The need for sign-off. Consensus. That's what often passes for collaboration. And what consensus does is force the creative types to do the work, then allow the decision-makers to feel a part of the process after the fact, which then usually generates rounds and rounds of more work. 
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2016 | 1:47:05 PM
Re: Collaboration
@Broadway - I don't disagree with you that it is a fact of business life, although my query is, "should it be?"

I suppose if you work with brilliant people who are always giving 100 percent then it's a dream, but...

What if all the people you have to collaborate with are mediocre at best?  And at worst...well, what's the point then?

I feel like when collaboration is forced - the result is only as good as the lowest common denominator. 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2016 | 8:31:52 AM
Re: The Art of the Deal ?
I can see slowing down with non IT folks being valuable, on the other side of that coin though there's nothing like having corporate systems and controls in place then having the customer/end user you're helping telling all about how their neighbor/nephew/guy who knows this stuff says you should do it this way.  I learned many years ago not to comment on another company's policies 9 times out of 10 they are using a specific software, have specific polices in place or limit user access for legitimate to them reasons and playing Monday morning quarterback doesn't help anyone.  I think a lot of IT folks get defensive when someone asking questions because very often it doesn't come off as curiosity it comes off as criticism.  
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