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How Soft Skills Can Help You
Get Ahead in a Tech World
You may be the most talented app developer, coder, graphic designer, or any other kind of professional in the tech world. Good for you! But how well can you work with other people?
There are some skills that tech programs don’t teach. These are personal characteristics, or so-called soft skills, and they will greatly affect the process of your job search and entire career.
What Are Soft Skills?
To understand what soft skills are, we first need to identify the hard skills needed in the technology world. Hard skills are the technical skills required for a job in your industry. These are qualifications that need formal training, and you’ll usually need to provide proof of these skills in the form of a certificate or degree.
These are your hard skills:
- Computer programming
- Java, Pascal, C++, and other programming languages
- Data analytics
- Graphic design
- Web design
The advantages of hard skills are evident. Without them, you can’t get a job in the tech world. But the mere skill of programming means nothing if you don’t complement it with the right set of personal characteristics.
So, what are soft skills then? These are your personal traits and attributes that identify the way you interact with other people and with your workspace.
Here are few examples for these soft qualifications:
- Work etiquette
- Analytical and critical thinking
- Emotional intelligence
There’s no such thing as “soft skills vs hard skills.” These qualities go together in your way to career success.
Professionals from the tech industry understand the importance of hard skills. But when it comes to the importance of soft skills, they tend to neglect them. “If I’m a master coder, who cares if I’m an empath too?” Oh; most employers care.
Let’s see why your personal traits matter for career progress.
How Soft Skills Help You Get Ahead in Tech Careers
1. They Make You Stand Out
When you apply for a job in tech, you have to be aware of the fact that all other applicants have similar backgrounds. They have the same computer science degree and probably got certificates from the same courses you attended.
Do you know what sets you apart? Your creativity, which is a soft skill and it’s evident from the portfolio you present. Your critical thinking skills and problem-solving capacity are also important. During the interview, your potential employer will evaluate these skills. For example, they might ask you to suggest solutions to particular issues that the company might face in the future.
In particular, your interviewer will pay attention to your communication skills. You may have an impressive background but, if you lack basic listening and speaking skills, you won’t make a good impression. Someone else will.
2. They Bring Diversity in the Workplace
Employers don’t measure soft skills vs hard skills when looking for talent. They want the best of both worlds.
Hard skills are naturally important, since the employer wants you to complete the tasks they delegate. But they are also looking for diversity of characters and thought within their organizations.
When building teams, employers wants different, but compatible characters within them. That’s why they look for skills like creativity, leadership, communication, ongoing learning desire, adaptability, and emotional intelligence.
3. A Growth Mindset Is a Soft Skill, Too
Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?
There’s no place for the fixed mindset in the tech industry. Someone with this characteristic is convinced that they have limited skills and capacity. When faced with a new challenge, they don’t believe they can overcome it because they don’t have the knowledge or skill to do so.
For example, a client may ask a graphic designer to change a concept and add unexpected elements to it. This wasn’t something the designer initially signed up for so they give up, complain, and say they weren’t hired to do that.
Do you know what someone with a growth mindset does? They learn. They believe that if they don’t have a certain skill, they can develop it with hard work and effort. This is someone who never gives up in the face of a professional challenge. They are the type of tech pro that everyone wants in their team.
4. Soft Skills Guide You to Leadership Positions
Let’s say someone hires a team of graphic designers, coders, webmasters, and copywriters for an important online project. They will have to choose a leader for this team. Who do you think will that be?
The employer won’t focus on hard skills when assigning a team leader. They know that everyone in this team is good at doing their jobs. When choosing the person to manage the team, they will look for organizational and communication skills, empathy, diligence, and extreme professionalism. It’s the “soft” side they are after.
5. They Make You the Best Person You Could Be
Does a new programming language make you a better person? No. Do better communication skills make you a better person? They make you more likeable, that’s for sure! Empathy, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, problem-solving - all these skills improve your character.
When you start a career in tech, you won’t use all these skills right from the start. If you’re working from home, in particular, you only need to get the tasks done and complete them on time.
But if you want to make real progress in the industry, your personality matters a lot. If an employer sees they can count on you, they will assign you with more responsibility.
And if you want to start your own business in the tech industry, soft skills will be even more important. The best professionals don’t want to work with the most talented coder. They want a talented leader to guide them. At that point, your soft skills will be more important than ever.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Develop the skills you need to get that job.
This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.
You Can Master These Characteristics If You Try!
Anyone can become a better communicator, leader, listener, and empath. You’re not born with these skills; you develop them throughout life.
When you apply these skills in real situations, you become better at your job.
Empathy, for example, is important for understanding where another person’s points are coming from. If you see only your side of the story, you’ll never be good at communicating and completing tasks.
Let’s draw a logical conclusion to the question: “what are soft skills?” These are the personal traits that complement hard skills and make you better at what you do. If you become aware of these skills and start working on them, you’ll make faster progress in the tech industry.
About the Author
James Dorian is a technical copywriter at Setapp.
He is a tech geek who knows a lot about modern apps that will make your work more productive.
James reads tons of online blogs on technology, business, and ways to become a real pro in our modern world of innovations.