Last year, LinkedIn released its annual Global Talent Trends report, which explores the four big trends fueling the future of the workplace. Topping the list? Soft skills.
Employers look for job-ready candidates and that means candidates who have an impeccable combination of both ‘hard skills’ like programming knowledge, hands-on experience, and ‘soft skills’. As automation takes over the workplace, that last soft piece weighs heavily in the equation. In fact, 57% of leaders who participated in a LinkedIn survey said that soft skills are more important than hard skills.
Why Do Employers Care About Soft Skills?
Companies value soft skills because they influence how employees interact and communicate with others, as well as how they handle various professional situations. Soft skills are personal characteristics, personality traits, and communication talents that are difficult to quantify yet are highly appreciated in the job.
Here are some of the reasons why most businesses value soft skills:
- They enhance teamwork
- They improve customer service
- They boost productivity
- They increase leadership skills
But what exactly are soft skills, and which are the most important for tech professionals? Let’s find out:
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are personality traits and communication skills that make it easier for people to get along with others at work and in their personal lives. Most of the time, it’s hard to measure these skills, and they aren’t related to technical skills or hard skills.
Employers put a lot of value on soft skills because they help employees work well with others, handle their work well, and communicate well.
Technical Skill vs. Soft Skill
The main difference between a soft skill and a technical skill is that a soft skill is about personal qualities, character traits, and communication skills, while a technical skill is about specific knowledge or expertise in a certain field or industry.
Soft skills are often transferable from one job or industry to another, but technical skills are usually only useful in one job or field.
The Best Soft Skills for Tech Professionals to Have
- Interpersonal Skills
- Communication Skills
- Critical Thinking
- Time Management
- Project Management
- Customer Service
- Presentation Skills
- Growth Mindset
Below, we explain the meaning of each of these skills further.
1. Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills refer to the ability to interact effectively with others in a personal or professional setting. This includes skills such as active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution.
Interpersonal skills are important for employees because they help them build good relationships with their coworkers, clients, and customers. This makes for a more peaceful and productive workplace. A Harvard University study found that workers with good people skills are more likely to get promotions and pay raises.
2. Communication Skills
Effective communication is critical for employees in all industries and at all levels, as it enables them to share information clearly and effectively, collaborate with others, and build strong relationships with clients and colleagues.
Communication skills also help employees to avoid misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and provide feedback, which can contribute to improved performance and productivity. In fact, a study (and book) by the National Soft Skills Association found that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills, such as communication skills. And a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that communication skills were the most sought-after soft skill by employers.
3. Critical Thinking
In WEF’s 2020 annual report, critical thinking and problem-solving top the list of skills that employers believe will grow in prominence in the next five years. These skills have consistently scored the highest since 2016. Today more than ever, employers are hiring people with the capacity to think on their feet, particularly as we navigate the changing nature of the workplace. People with critical thinking skills can tackle complex problems and weigh up the pros and cons of different solutions – all using logic and reasoning, rather than relying on gut instinct.
4. Time Management
Time management refers to the ability to manage one’s time effectively, prioritize tasks, and stay organized. This includes skills such as setting goals, delegating tasks, and avoiding procrastination.
Effective time management skills can also help employees reduce stress, improve work-life balance, and prevent burnout. In fact, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that workers who manage their time well are more likely to be engaged and less likely to experience burnout, and a survey by the American Psychological Association also found that workers who are good at managing their time are more likely to say they are happy with their jobs.
5. Project Management
Project management involves planning, organizing, and coordinating resources to achieve specific goals. This includes skills such as setting deadlines, delegating tasks, and monitoring progress.
These abilities enable an employee to plan, organize, and execute projects effectively by better allocating resources, reducing costs for their companies and even increasing customer satisfaction. A study by the Project Management Institute found that organizations with mature project management practices achieve better project outcomes and higher customer satisfaction rates than those without mature practices.
Teamwork refers to the ability to work collaboratively with others towards a common goal. This can include skills such as communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
There are hardly any ‘lone-wolf’ jobs in tech. A coder sitting in front of a computer screen alone in a dark basement is a thing of the past. Effective developers nowadays program code, play with big data, and collaborate daily with diverse teams of developers, product managers, marketers, and salespeople. Harvard Business Review finds that teams solve problems faster when they are more diverse. In order to think out of the box, we have to break out of our comfort zones and be team players to be able to communicate successfully with others.
7. Customer Service
Good customer service skills such as active listening, problem-solving, and empathy can help tech workers to build trust and establish positive relationships with customers, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction. In fact, a survey by Harvard Business Review found that organizations that prioritize customer experience achieve higher customer retention rates and increased revenue growth.
A survey by Salesforce also found that 80% of customers say that the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services.
8. Presentation Skills
Presentation skills are important for all employees because they allow them to effectively communicate ideas, engage and persuade audiences, and show off their knowledge and expertise. Effective presentation skills include being clear and to the point, using interesting visuals, and speaking with confidence. These things can help employees get their message across and make a good impression on their audience.
According to research done by Prezi, 70% of employed Americans agree that being able to give a good presentation is really important for getting ahead in their careers.
When discussing the automated workplace, Forbes stated that since machines can’t easily replicate humans’ ability to imagine, create, and dream, those with high creativity will be in greater demand in the future workplace. With all the new technology coming our way, companies will require new ways of thinking – making human creativity an important asset. AI might be the future of technology, but for now, it is creative humans who teach machines how to think.
10. Growth Mindset
Originally coined by Stanford professor and motivation research pioneer Carol Dweck, people with a growth mindset believe their talents can be further developed through hard work and feedback. Companies with a growth mindset culture report more empowered, loyal, and innovative employees, while companies with a fixed mindset culture report employees taking shortcuts, deception, and other toxic practices.
A tech professional with a growth mindset understands that building skills, and keeping them up-to-date through upskilling, leads to higher achievements. They’re willing to take on new challenges, learn from their mistakes, and actively expand their knowledge.
When Training for Tech, Develop Those Soft Skills
If you’re thinking of reskilling to tech, find a program that not only delivers the tech knowledge, but also gives you a true opportunity to practice soft skills in a team setting. If you’re an education provider, integrate soft skills into your curriculum so that your students have better success in landing a tech job.
Wawiwa, a tech education provider focusing on the reskilling of people to tech jobs in high demand, designs programs that aim to produce job-ready graduates, with coding skills, relevant soft skills, and hands-on experience in both hard and soft skills.
Wawiwa’s proprietary Job-Effective Training (JET) design training methodology makes sure that the training experience feels a lot like everyday work at the future job role, be it a Full-Stack Developer or a Data Analyst.
Wawiwa’s programs enable students to gradually acquire the skill of self-study and personal development. Working in pairs and teams, and reviewing one another’s code, gives students the opportunity to improve their communication and feedback skills. The project-based learning approach developed and applied in Wawiwa programs requires students to develop problem-solving skills and a healthy approach to tackling new challenges.
“Hands-on experience in coding is paramount in importance to employers. However, softer skills are as important for employers, even if implicit.” says Eran Lasser, Founder and CEO of Wawiwa Tech. “It is through presentation and communication skills that a candidate conveys his experience at the job interview. It is problem-solving and creativity that help candidates crack assignments during the recruiting process. And it is empathy and past examples of teamwork that let the recruiter assess a candidate’s fit to the company culture and seal the deal for the candidate’s new job in tech.”