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 the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2016 | 10:41:56 PM
Re: Collaboration
vnewman, great quote. Though I think for most of us, collaboration --- or whatever you want to call it --- is a fact of business life. Unless you are a true "artist" --- someone so talented and recognized for that talent that he or she gets a wide birth --- you must please other people in the process of creation. 
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2016 | 6:20:09 PM
Re: Collaboration
I agree with you. I don't like this word. It's overused. And it's presumed to always be a good thing when I feel like certain projects aren't best served with collaboration. I can't say it any better than Steve Wozniak did so I will quote him: "Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me — they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone — best outside of corporate environments, best where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee… I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team."
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
5/14/2016 | 10:20:10 AM
Collaboration
Collaboration is the buzz word of our time. If things don't work the managerial advice is to "collaborate more". What the heck does that mean? Talk to each other more? Write more stuff down and share it? Push decision makers into making decisions? "Collaboration" should be a word banned in businesses. That way we may get some better direction.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
5/14/2016 | 10:16:38 AM
Re: Emails: Short and Sweet
I find short and sweet emails utterly useless. They generally lack information that is needed and that requires sending a reply requesting more info, waiting for a response that again is short and sweet, and so forth. I rather see well written verbose emails that organize content properly. Give a summary of what this message is about at the top. If I need more info I can read on, getting all the details needed. It also depends on the recipient, some like bulleted lists, others are more into visuals and prefer diagrams and screen shots.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/13/2016 | 10:38:15 PM
Re: The Art of the Deal ?
No. 1 on my list would be patience with non-IT people. Think that's a skill that's valuable no matter your level --- whether you dealing with end users and their day-to-day issues, or your dealing with executives and their phobios and misconcepted expectations around tech.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
5/13/2016 | 8:21:22 AM
Re: The Art of the Deal ?
Negotiation is huge if you want to move up in the IT field but there are lots of opportunities to learn.  Low level you negotiate solutions to simple problems with end users because what they want isn't always what they need.  Moving into management you start to negotiate contracts for services and smaller purchases.  Eventually you move into large project spending and negotiating with executives, the learning curve can be steep on some of these but the opportunity is there. 
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2016 | 2:54:46 PM
Emails: Short and Sweet

"Unfortunately, a lot of IT professionals have poor communication skills and don't know how to write quick, short emails," 

 

I am surprised by this statement as well as what was mentioned in regards to speaking articulately.  

Not a good sign for someone whose opinion is to be relied upon and respected.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2016 | 2:51:24 PM
The Art of the Deal ?

Negotiation is a soft skill I hadn't thought about.  And I agree it is vital to dealing with vendors who want your business bad.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2016 | 2:38:44 PM
Re: Confidence

"...but from what I've seen most of them are very confident in their ability to do things."

 

@SaneIT    For the most part that has been my experience as well.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2016 | 2:34:45 PM
Re: Communication

@Whoopty   Agreed.  But one has to be careful here, if you are a good communicator, you can distill the topic down so much that it appears "easy" to the non-techie.

 

Not sure if this outcome is a more annoying  than not being able to communicate at all.

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