A lot of us approach the job search process with an emphasis on our training and experience in order to convince hiring managers that we have what it takes to do the job. We know what we can and cannot do and we are eager to talk about the skill set that has already made us successful in our careers. Our resumes are filled with bullet lists of skills that should make managers take notice.
In the IT industry, these skills — what we call “hard” skills — are critical in our careers. Every IT job has these technical skills as a basic minimum for even being considered for an interview. But what makes us stand out from the rest in the competition for the job? Soft skills.
Hiring guru Lou Adler recently wrote that “soft” skills are too important to be overlooked in the hiring process while they are often the reason for failure and firing.
What’s lost is the idea that once people meet a basic threshold of technical competency and ability to learn, it’s the quality of their non-technical skills like leadership, management, teamwork and work ethic that determines how fast they’ll progress.Lou Adler, “The Lack of Soft Skills Puts a Lid on Career Growth” May 11, 2020
Adler lists a number of skills traditionally seen as “soft” that are vital in a professional environment:
- Cross-functional understanding and collaboration
- Commitment to success
- Building, developing and managing teams
- Leading, organizing and managing matrix projects
- Persuading senior-level people to change direction
- Not making excuses
- Read the entire list of soft skills here.
Most of the candidates for technical jobs have the technical skills to do the job. It’s likely they were doing the same job elsewhere just weeks ago for another company. So how can we distinguish ourselves in the interview process in order to win that job?
Demonstrate early on that not only do you have the required skill set (hard skills), but you also possess soft skills that make you valuable to a manager, a team, and a company. You’re a team player, a good communicator, and a great listener. You know how to translate technical ideas into down-to-earth descriptions that non-technical managers need in order to make decisions. You are level-headed when projects and people get out of hand and you refrain from grumbling when deadlines approach and overtime is required. And the list goes on.
What makes your working life attractive to companies? Doing good work, following directions, getting along with colleagues, and looking for ways to make your team, your managers, and your company successful.
Adler suggests these “soft” skill assessments need to be incorporated up front in the hiring process.
More important than what they are called, though, is the idea that these skills need to be incorporated into the interviewing process in parallel with an assessment of the person’s hard skills, rather than as an afterthought.
Of course, knowing what soft skills a particular company or manager is looking for isn’t always obvious from a posted job description. Finding out what they’re really wanting from current or past employees can be a big boost to your presentation. This knowledge can help you tailor your responses in an interview to demonstrate that you have much more under the hood than just great programming skills.
Working with a recruiting firm that has relationships with hiring managers is the ultimate source of inside information. These experienced technical recruiters can get on the phone with many of these managers and drill down into specific criteria that may not be obvious in a job description. And when a connected recruiter puts you in front of a manager they already know, your total package as a person and professional are put front and center.
For more than 30 years, Core Technology Solutions has been developing and maintaining professional relationships with key hiring managers in some of the nation’s top firms looking for IT talent. Give us a call and let us connect you with a career!