When you think about work, what do you consider to be the key factors in being successful in the workplace? Put it another way, how would you rank the following in regards to importance for a tech professional?
- Technical knowledge
- Practical skills
- Non-technical career skills
You hopefully are not surprised to learn that today’s employers are putting increasing emphasis on the importance of career skills. It is not just your tech skills – or job-specific competencies – that can determine your ability to find, and excel in, the right job.
You need to have workplace wit as a techie to be able to dazzle future employers. Today’s tech professionals need to be thinking about their capacity for communication, team-work, problem solving, innovation, and even leadership.
Employers expect the full Package of Career Skills
The Digital Revolution is changing the job market for everyone. Technology is forecast to play an ever increasing role in the workplace of today and tomorrow. And just as traditionally analog or off line roles will require employees to master and deliver more and more tech knowledge, the merging and confluence of diverse competencies means that IT professionals need to think in terms of rounding out their professional profiles too.
The U.S. jobsite, CareerBuilder, published a survey that showed that more than three quarters of employers consider career skills, like being organized or an efficient communicator, just as important as job specific skills.
Another survey by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com suggests that employers actually put having a "positive attitude" way ahead of college qualifications. According to their findings, the top three attributes most in demand by recruiters in 2014 are:
- Positive attitude
- Strong communication skills
- Capacity to work well in a team
Hiring a Person, not a Resume
When you start thinking about making a job application, take a step back and remember that most companies or corporations will be looking to make a long term hire. Being flexible, willing to learn, and having the ability to work well within a team are going to make you a more attractive candidate to a potential employer.
Think of it in terms of offering the best of both worlds. Recruiters will be interested in the individual who not only has proficiency in the role or function they are looking to fill, but who has the more amicable personal attributes and attitude. They will want to get a sense of how quickly you can adapt or solve problems; and whether you are the kind of person your boss or team can rely on to deliver. In the longer term, they might be interested in your potential to motivate and lead others.
Building Your Nontechnical Skills
If some or many of these skills do not come to you naturally, there is plenty you can do to redress the balance. From volunteering or internship experiences to building your interpersonal and communication skills, to trying out techniques in your current job or school, there are many steps you can take.
Why not volunteer to deliver a presentation? Be conscious of how you talk, your body language, eye contact, and your content. Ask your colleagues for feedback.
Build your interpersonal and leadership skills by networking with others – both inside and outside your organization. Share information, look for synergies – how might you collaborate with each other or connect better to get things done? Identify someone in your sphere whose leadership you admire. What do they do? How do they communicate? How do they manage conflict?
Do not be afraid to take the initiative in your day to day life. Whether it is work or study. If there is something that needs to be done, even if it sits outside of your direct responsibility, why not go ahead and take the lead. Why wait to be asked? Seek out challenges and opportunities to develop, learn, and grow. And build those extra attributes that will help you stand out from the rest. Employers want employees who take initiative and can be leaders as well as team players.
We have spoken with recruiters and hiring managers, they have all expressed that they desire candidates who have both the technical aptitude and career savvy skills. Be sure to develop your career skills while you go to school to grow your technical knowledge.