LinkedIn recently conducted an analysis of hiring trends observed on its platform, shedding light on the most in-demand hard and soft skills by companies. These trends align seamlessly with my observations in executive coaching, where I assist leaders in stress management, resilience building, fostering creativity, developing emotional intelligence, and enhancing communication and collaboration abilities.
Hard skills are often technical in nature and tend to be both teachable and measurable. Examples of such skills include design, engineering, economic analysis, and AI. On the other hand, soft skills include interpersonal and communication capabilities, alongside the capacity for creative thinking and adopting diverse perspectives. The development of self-awareness is also crucial within this skill set. While leaders, teachers, and coaches can facilitate the cultivation of soft skills in others, measuring their proficiency tends to be more challenging. It is crucial not to underestimate or undervalue these skills by simply labeling them as “soft.”
As I have emphasized previously, soft skills play an imperative role in effective leadership. Acknowledging their significance, Dartmouth University president Philip Hanlon refers to them as “power skills,” recognizing their high value in today’s dynamic work environment.
Moreover, In the workplace, and especially among high-tech companies, there’s a strong focus on employees’ skills. Those with strong coding skills, relevant certifications and professional licenses are often the most sought-after employees. But in recent years, employers have begun paying more attention to soft skills as well. These include time management, empathy and kindness.
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As the landscape of the job market evolves, it is no longer sufficient to excel solely in technical proficiencies. The ability to effectively manage one’s time, demonstrate empathy towards colleagues and clients, and exhibit kindness in interactions has become highly valued by employers. Soft skills are now considered an essential complement to hard skills, enhancing an individual’s overall effectiveness in the workplace.
This article articulates the significance of soft skills and their role in helping individuals become exceptional employees.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills refer to the qualities that enable individuals to interact efficiently and effectively with others. When considering this definition, it becomes evident why these skills hold equal significance to hard skills such as coding, mathematics, and project management.
Why Do Employers Care About Soft Skills?
Most of your time in the workplace is typically spent collaborating within a team. Even computer programmers, who may often work independently, must possess the ability to function effectively in a team setting to achieve specific objectives. This significant factor is driving employers to place greater value on soft skills during the hiring process.
Soft skills enable employees to seamlessly share knowledge with their teams, provide guidance to less experienced colleagues, and approach challenging issues with a positive mindset. Essential soft skills include compassion for others, resourcefulness, and patience.
Do Soft Skills Matter in Tech Jobs?
As long as people are working in tech jobs, soft skills matter. Company culture has become increasingly important as more companies attempt to build diverse, inclusive and kind workplaces for all. Soft skills are a vital part of this initiative across all industries, including tech.
The Best Soft Skills for Tech Workers to Have
Here are some essential soft skills that are valuable for tech workers to excel in the fast-paced and competitive industry:
To succeed as a tech professional, effective communication is essential beyond merely interacting with computers. Engaging with team members and colleagues within the company requires strong verbal and written communication skills. Practicing and honing these skills can be achieved through various settings such as meetings, emails, and even blog posts. In any workplace, both verbal and written communication skills are indispensable.
2. Critical Thinking
Analytical thinking is a crucial skill for every tech role. As a tech professional, you will face challenges that require clever and innovative solutions. The good news is that anyone can develop their critical thinking abilities with practice. By enhancing your critical thinking skills, you can think beyond conventional boundaries and approach problems from a creative perspective. Proficiency in this area can also enable you to identify trends, patterns, and subtle details that others may overlook.
Empathy is a valuable asset that can greatly benefit any job or career path. This essential soft skill enables you to empathetically comprehend and appreciate issues and challenges from the perspectives of others. Whether you have aspirations to enter a managerial role or wish to mentor junior employees in the future, cultivating empathy is a critical tech skill to possess.
Resourcefulness is a valuable trait that empowers individuals to overcome challenges in innovative and efficient ways. Employers highly value employees who can independently and creatively solve problems using the available resources. Engaging in self-study and reading at home are effective methods to enhance your knowledge in your chosen industry and, consequently, become a more resourceful and valuable employee.
5. Time Management
Time management is a concept that you have likely encountered since your early school days, and its significance extends to the workplace as well. In high-tech industries, tight deadlines and limited flexibility are common. When presented with a deadline, employees often need to strategize and plan their time effectively, considering their other responsibilities. This proactive approach involves working backwards to determine the most optimal time management techniques.
How to Improve Your Soft Skills
Above, you have gained insights into several top soft skills essential for tech positions. If you find yourself lacking in any of these areas, it is advisable to invest time and effort into developing and strengthening those skills. The following recommendations are provided to assist you in cultivating and enhancing your tech soft skills.
Find a mentor. You have the freedom to select a mentor from various options, such as a co-worker, supervisor, or someone with seniority in your workplace. When seeking a mentor at work, it is important to choose someone who is willing to take on the role. An uninvolved mentor or one who can only spare a few minutes each month will not be able to assist you in enhancing your skill set as effectively as an engaged mentor who is regularly available.
Read a helpful book. Notable titles that are highly regarded for fostering soft skills in the workplace include “Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual” by Jon Sonmez and “The Softer Side of Leadership” by Dr. Eugene Habecker. These books offer valuable insights and guidance for individuals looking to develop and enhance their soft skills.
Take a course. Numerous online platforms, such as Udemy and Team Treehouse, provide abundant options for individuals seeking to develop their skills. These platforms offer a wide range of courses and resources that can be accessed conveniently from anywhere, allowing individuals to enhance their skills and knowledge in a flexible and accessible manner.