How to Improve Your Soft Skills for Your Next Job

Entering a new IT role requires mastering several “hard skills” such as programming, analytical thinking, and coding. These skills are familiar and universal to all IT professionals. However, there is a parallel category of abilities better known as “soft skills” that receive far less attention but are equally as important to excelling in your IT career.

Most people have a shaky understanding of what specific expertise fall under that category of “soft skills.” Simply put, a soft skill is an attribute, ability or trait that enhances someone’s interpersonal communication skills. As noted above, IT is an industry that highly values hard skills; however, there are some soft skills which, if used correctly, can greatly amplify your hard skills.

By blending hard skills with the following soft skills, you’ll excel quickly and establish deeper relationships within your new role:

  • Teamwork – Whether you’re working with clients, contractors or co-workers, being a professional in the IT industry requires a lot of collaboration. When working with teammates or third parties, be sure to bring your own contributions to the table, but also be open to receiving alternate opinions and new ideas.
  • Flexibility – Working in IT means encountering an ever-shifting landscape of novel problems and hurdles that will require creative solutions. To succeed in a new job, IT pros need to be able to quickly adapt to solving new challenges, using new technologies, and adjusting to new workplace norms.
  • Self-Reflection – Starting a new job means coming to terms with a whole new set of professional expectations and standards. Adapting to a new work environment takes a tremendous amount of self-awareness, which can often be tricky. Asking managers and colleagues for feedback to gauge how well you’re meeting expectations is a great way to connect with co-workers and ensure you’re on the right track.
  • Public Speaking – The ability to address a group of peers and confidently articulate your thoughts is one of the most important skills for succeeding in a new IT role.
  • Creativity – The IT industry is at the cutting edge of innovation, which means IT companies are constantly integrating new technologies, new value systems, and revolutionary new ideas. In such a forward-facing environment, the individual that can bring creative solutions and offer alternative paths forward will be a step above the competition.

Just like learning a new hard skill, becoming adept at any of the five soft skills listed above will require patience, persistence, and practice. Unlike hard skills such as programming, however, soft skills such as creativity, flexibility, and negotiation can be practiced in almost any setting and can be applied to many different areas throughout your career. Becoming a stronger communicator and a more creative thinker will allow you to apply your hard skills in new ways that will make you stand out in any workplace.

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