Youve got all the hot technical certifications with solid work experience. Youre the programming guru or the 900-pound gorilla of Network administration. Youre on your way to becoming an outstanding IT achiever? Dont make me laugh! Excellent tech activities, rapid knowledge acquisition, tons of certificates are not the same thing as growth.
Tech skills alone dont lead to recognition, promotion, and most importantly: opportunity. Tech skills are important but so are your soft skills. How well do you communicate with your colleagues, management, clients or your employer? Are perceived as a contributor or just another techie?
1. Certification is not an end in itself. Tech skills do matter.In fact, to succeed in IT you definitely need to have solid technical skills with a good grasp of the fundamentals. To make any headway you need to be solid on the ground with hard tech know-how. And the IT industry requires you to fortify yourself on a continuous basis with up-to-date tech knowledge and concepts. Training, certification, the Internet, books, are all opportunities available for lifelong learning. But what about your soft skills? As you build up your tech expertise, what effort are you making to develop your non-tech abilities? Certification is not an end in itself.
You need soft skills to create opportunity for yourself. What is the use of tech skills if nobody knows youve got such skills? The essence of education is opportunity. The essence of your technical ability is opportunity. Use soft skills to cultivate opportunity. Use soft skills to grab opportunity with both hands. Its wakeup time - keep the right perspective: your value, not just your technical expertise, is your power.
2. Soft skills help advance your career.Lets look at specific ways in which soft skills can help IT professionals advance their careers. To bring value to organization and clients, IT staff are getting more involved in many non-tech activities to carry out their IT tasks. Your interpersonal skills should be top notch to deliver results with your colleagues and people in non-IT areas you must work with. As a project manager, how do you motivate other members of your team? You may need to work and interact with accountants and customer service staff to develop the companys new business software. Network professionals have to enlighten other staff on the applications of the new wireless network and the implications of the companys security policies.
The server room is no longer a hiding place. And no matter how good you think you are you will not get the marks you feel you deserve if cant communicate well with colleagues or clients. In fact, the perception might be that you are not competent. But when you interact better with the people you have to work with, your performance tends to improve and they go away with a positive impression. And the meaning of positive impression is more opportunity, more responsibility.
3. Soft skills empower you and create opportunities.In my opinion, the main benefit of soft skills is empowerment. How does your tech skill translate to value? How do you create opportunity? Soft skills are useful for creating and taking advantage of opportunities jobs, career and business. No matter how great your tech skills are, when job hunting, your marketing skills should be first-class. Otherwise others who may not be as capable as you, but who have better marketing skills might beat you to the jobs or work you want. There are opportunities in IT. But there are also challenges and competition. In such a competitive environment, perception often reigns supreme.
If your technical competencies are similar to those of other candidates how do you differentiate yourself? You claim to be a technical wizard. The problem however, and this is a big however, is how do I know if you are good if you cant sell what you have - yourself or your ideas? Your certifications and previous work experience are important. But the issue at stake is this: can you convince the interviewer or clients that you will solve their problems and deliver value?