Highlight Soft Skills Along with IT Expertise

Kachina Shaw
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Interview Due Diligence: What to Ask the Hiring Manager

Baseline Magazine just published a list of 11 Must-Have Soft Skills for Tech Professionals, citing one convincing research stat that should affect your resume layout and cover letter contents: “Ninety-three percent of employers consider a job candidate's demonstrated soft skills as being more important than their undergraduate major.”

Communication skills, a strong work ethic, problem-solving ability and adaptability are just some of the skill sets that hiring managers in IT seek in job candidates, no matter their technical credentials, certifications or past job history.

How do hiring managers identify those skills? Some may not really know how to do it reliably, but CIO.com suggests the best approach is stepping away from a “tech interview” and interviewing candidates the same way they would be queried for any other type of job. Crafting multi-part questions that span both technical skills and soft skills is also illuminating.

Another CIO.com piece highlights an observation from IT managers and directors within the U.S. Federal government: Increasing use of outsourcers, outside service providers and shared service models with other agencies means that all IT employees need to demonstrate the skills that only consultants were once expected to have. Within the federal hierarchy, this means that the hiring managers in IT themselves also need to have broad and deep knowledge of project management, customer service and other soft business skills.

Job Interview

Candidates who want to prepare themselves to help IT hiring managers have an easier time coming to the conclusion that their soft skills are strong enough to set them apart from the pack should try the following:

  • Practice explaining successful efforts and projects, with an emphasis on communication with team members. Highlight these during interviews.
  • Include liaison experience in the resume, whether it was with non-IT coworkers, clients, customers, or third-party technical service providers. Make it clear that your communication and other soft skills were key in these experiences.
  • Provide as references former colleagues who are knowledgeable about teamwork and other soft skills.
  • Research thoroughly the interviewer’s own duties and skills, in order to better understand their responsibilities and explain how your soft skills can support their goals. Emphasize soft skills that mirror those you believe the interviewer possesses.

Kachina Shaw is managing editor for IT Business Edge and has been writing and editing about IT and the business for 15 years. She writes about IT careers, management, technology trends and managing risk. Follow Kachina on Twitter @Kachina and on Google+

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