To ensure success in an IT career, development of soft skills has been found to be just as important as knowing the technical ins and outs of the role.
According to research conducted by Harvard University and Stanford Research Center, 85% of career success comes from having well-developed soft skills, with hard skills accounting for just 15%.
Furthermore, the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum ranked empathy, agility, creative thinking, and active listening among the most important skills for workers embarking on their career paths in 2023.
Most recently, Business Name Generator's "Future of Soft Skills in the Workplace" survey unveiled the skills IT and telecom employees and businesses value the most in 2023.
Communication and problem-solving took the top two spots, while time management and critical thinking tied for third, followed by self-motivation and attention to detail.
Flexibility, a growth mindset, adaptability, creativity, and leadership rounded out the list of most desired soft skills.
Tailored Skills Development Strategies
Katrina Haggarty, a spokesperson for Business Name Generator, said one of the most surprising findings was how varied the importance of certain skills across different levels of employees was.
"For instance, while communication was consistently considered essential by most respondents, the shift in emphasis toward creativity for C-level executives and senior management — 23% and 26%, respectively — stood out," she noted.
This suggests younger employees aren't recognizing the value of this skill to the same extent, so there could be a missed opportunity for this generation to upskill in this area, she added.
"These distinctions in skill priorities indicate the need for tailored skills development strategies based on organizational roles," Haggarty said.
From her perspective, creativity being ranked so highly could stem from its transformative impact on problem-solving, innovation, and adaptability.
"In the fast-paced tech landscape, where new challenges demand unique solutions, creative thinking is instrumental," she said.
Creativity allows individuals to come up with imaginative approaches and perspectives, leading to innovative breakthroughs and the ability to adapt to rapid technological changes.
"Additionally, creativity fosters the capacity to think outside conventional boundaries, making it invaluable in driving differentiation and growth in the tech industry," Haggarty said.
Showcasing Critical Thinking, Resourcefulness
A person with strong problem-solving skills typically demonstrates the ability to analyze complex issues systematically, break them down, and identify effective solutions, according to Haggarty.
"They showcase critical thinking, resourcefulness, and a willingness to explore alternative approaches," she noted. "Effective problem-solvers are also skilled in evaluating potential consequences and making informed decisions."
In addition, their capacity to collaborate with diverse teams also contributes to successful problem-solving in dynamic work environments.
In the tech industry, networking facilitates idea exchange and exposure to diverse perspectives.
Haggarty said networking is highly ranked due to its potential to foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and professional growth.
"Establishing strong professional relationships can lead to opportunities for collaboration, career advancement, and staying informed about industry trends," she said. "It can also aid with problem-solving by connecting individuals with complementary skills to address multifaceted challenges."
The shift to remote work has also underscored the significance of certain soft skills, with communication becoming crucial as virtual interactions replace face-to-face meetings.
Empathy and emotional intelligence have also gained importance in understanding and supporting colleagues in a digital environment.
"Additionally, self-motivation and time management are essential to maintain productivity without direct supervision," Haggarty said. "The remote work setup has highlighted the need for adaptability, as employees navigate evolving work dynamics and balance personal and professional responsibilities."
Continuing Development of Soft Skills
IT professionals can stay on top of their soft skills development by engaging in continuous learning and self-improvement activities, Haggarty said.
"They can take advantage of online courses, workshops, and seminars focused on communication, leadership, problem-solving, and other relevant skills," she said.
Joining professional networks, attending industry events, and participating in mentorship programs can also help enhance these skills.
"It's important to seek feedback from colleagues and supervisors who can provide insights into areas for improvement," Haggarty added.
About the authorNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.