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Why it’s your soft skills that will land you your next tech role

Posted: 15 March 2017

A survey by the people behind National Conversation Week found that more than 1 in 3 people prefer to contact others through digital means as opposed to talking on the phone or in person. With our increasing reliance on technology, it seems as if we are all plummeting towards a world in which we all communicate approval by swiping right and converse exclusively in little pictures of sushi and whales.

But what does this rather dystopian vision of our future have to do with tech recruitment?

The importance of soft skills

Well, according to a survey that questioned 500 business leaders, the biggest challenge that tech recruiters are facing is finding candidates who are not only technically qualified but also possess soft skills. In fact, 31% of those surveyed said that social skills are the most difficult to find among candidates. 

This increased focused on candidates who possess soft skills may seem surprising in an industry that relies so heavily on technical proficiency, but it is innovation and creativity that give IT companies their edge and for this, businesses need employees that can provide a cocktail of hard and soft skills. 

But what are these soft skills that tech employers crave? Well, all sorts of things – from the ability to listen and follow direction to self-motivation and professionalism. ‘Soft skills’ is a catch-all term for attributes that help you to do your job that aren’t necessarily career-specific. These characteristics may not seem that important, but as reported in a recent study carried out by everyone’s favourite fast food conglomerate, McDonalds, the value of soft skills to the UK economy is roughly £88.5 billion, which is approximately 6.5% of the UK economy. 

What are soft skills, and how can you make sure you have them?

When it comes to communication skills, make sure that you are clear and concise and get your point across efficiently. It sounds basic, but remember that conversation is a two-way street – many people talk well but don’t listen to the answer that comes back. The same goes for any written communications – make sure you proofread any emails that you send, a lazy typo can seem insincere, even if it is followed by Sent from my iPhone! 

A successful business is like a 90s boy band, the magic happens when everyone works in sync. Whether it is working directly in a team, or accepting criticism and finding inspiration from those around you, having an awareness of the people you work with is a soft skill that is greatly valued by employers. In fact, a survey by NACE showed that 78% of employers looked for candidates who could demonstrate good team working abilities. 

So just remember, when it comes to putting together your CV or going in for an interview you don’t need to just demonstrate your technical proficiency, but you also have to ensure that your soft skills stand out as well.

Not everyone can have skills as soft as the inside of your favourite hoodie, but making the effort to acknowledge a few examples of these skills will demonstrate that you recognise their importance.