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Developing Your Soft Skills

The most successful IT professionals possess more than technical aptitude. Their interpersonal skills play an integral role in their ability to take on new responsibilities and advance their careers. In fact, in a recent Robert Half Technology survey of 1,400 CIO’s, 97 percent of the respondents said they look for well-developed soft skills when considering applicants for openings at their firms.


Why? Increasingly, hiring managers are seeking candidates who are able to tie a firm’s technical capabilities to its business needs. It’s common today for those in IT to be asked to make a case for or against a particular sort of upgrade or hardware purchase, and this requires excellent communication and persuasion skills.


As a result of these changes to the job description, soft skills are playing a larger role in an IT candidate’s marketability and are frequently a deciding factor when evaluating two individuals with otherwise equal qualifications.


How do you hone your interpersonal skills? Here are some tips:


Maintain a sense of humor — In the middle of peak workloads, it’s one of the most important skills you possess; a little laughter can break the tension. Just be sure to remain professional and keep humor appropriate to the work environment.


Learn to listen — Clearly communicating with coworkers is an essential skill, but it’s a two-way street. You need to listen, too. That means fully focusing on the person you’re talking to, waiting your turn to speak and asking for clarification when necessary.


Keep an open mind — If you begin a discussion convinced that an individual won’t say anything interesting or relevant, you’re likely to tune her out and miss critical information. Be careful not to pre-judge and you’ll be surprised at how much you gain from every conversation.


Show empathy — When you’re interacting with an end-user who’s confused about a computer problem or on deadline, try to be understanding. What may seem obvious to you might not be so obvious to the person you’re helping. Your reassurance can reduce his frustration and stress level. You should also avoid using technical jargon. Those outside of your department are unlikely to understand what you mean.


Be enthusiastic — Attitude is everything in the workplace. Your enthusiasm on the job will not only improve your relationships with other team members but also play a role in helping you gain future work opportunities. Almost everyone would prefer to work with someone who is upbeat instead of someone who complains all the time.


Observe proper etiquette — When composing e-mail messages, always maintain a positive, professional tone. Avoid corresponding when you’re angry or unhappy because you may write something you’ll regret later. Also keep in mind the importance of common courtesies such as using “please” and “thank you.”


Provided by the career experts at Robert Half Technology


Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in North America and Europe and offers online job search services


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