IT professionals need a full range of hard and soft skills to succeed at their career. Hard skills are more specific and measurable activities such as troubleshooting a Cisco network, while soft skills relate to how a person interacts with others. As the demand for IT talent rises, those who compliment their technical knowledge with exceptional soft skills will see greater long-term success.
Here are some of the critical soft skills needed for IT professionals:
Being able to effectively write and communicate with others are critical soft skills for IT professionals and for any role in technical support. For example, companies that use CRM systems such as SalesForce or NetSuite rely on Help Desk Technicians to look up common problems and solutions. In order for this software to be useful, technicians must concisely document the problems they resolve.
Consider these two entries and see which is a more effective communication:
- “Ticket received. Working on fix.”
- “I wanted to keep you updated on the status of your problem. The issue should be resolved within the hour, but please feel free to ask me any questions in the interim.”
The first item is rather short and not personable at all. However, the second item provides much more feedback and is written in a more professional manner.
Being able to actively listen to someone is one of the most valuable communication skills. Can you remember the last time you were talking to someone and it was very clear that they weren’t paying attention to you? How did that make you feel? The same goes for when others are talking to you. Make sure to make eye contact, nod, and let them know that you understand what they are saying. It’s the little things such as this that build relationships with colleagues and management.
It’s best to use language that avoids conflict, but there are times when people become frustrated and it is critical for IT professionals to know how to handle these situations. If you ask a colleague or customer “Why are you so angry,” it will more than likely escalate the problem. Instead, sympathize with the person and stay focused on the problem at hand to better guide the situation. Empathy goes a long way, so make sure to keep that in mind when you run into a frustrated customer or coworker.
Hard skills can get you the job, but having soft skills will take your career to the next level. Any person in an IT related role or another professional field that is serious about performing well should be able to effectively communicate, listen, and know how to handle conflict. What are some of the soft skills that have helped you excel in your career? Let us know!