Having the right tech skills for a job in the tech industry is key but developing your soft skills is also highly valuable, especially when you’re starting out or wanting to land a non-technical position.
We recently asked the Code Like a Girl community whether they had any career advice, where one anonymous responder said, ‘Just because you are starting out doesn’t mean you are a beginner. If you have customer service, conflict resolution or are organised – these are still key management skills’.
You don’t need a degree or background in technology to have a successful career in the tech industry. There are thousands of non-technical jobs in tech such as operations manager, project manager, sales representative and UX researcher. Having a range of transferable soft skills will give you an edge when applying for non-technical and technical roles.
What are soft skills in the workplace exactly? And how can I develop them to land my dream job in tech?
In this article, we will discuss breaking into the tech industry without tech know-how, define soft skills and explore 4 essential soft skills that’ll make you attractive to tech employers and different ways you can develop them.
We want to remind you that you can start or transition into a successful career in tech without formal education and technical skills. There are many non-technical roles in technology that you may already be qualified for where you can apply the awesome soft skills you already have.
Sarah Liu, founder and managing director of The Dream Collective, shared some great insights about breaking into tech without technical knowledge in an interview with Urban List:
Glassdoor research tells us 43% of roles advertised by tech companies are non-technical. This means you do not have to understand ‘tech speak’ or need a degree in software engineering to work in tech. In fact, this could work to your advantage.
Many companies we work with are interested in candidates from a non-tech background, particularly for sales teams, as they bring a different perspective to how they communicate technology.
An outsider’s perspective allows you to bring an innovative lens into a company and, as an outsider, you can approach these companies as a user, which is always a useful perspective for them.
Technology companies are aiming to solve big problems, so focus on their larger mission when considering a new role and assess how your current skills and strengths can help these companies achieve or further their mission.
Now that we have established the massive opportunity in tech for people without a tech background, let’s dive into the soft skills that’ll make you uber attractive to hiring managers in tech.
Soft skills are personal qualities or attributes that enable you to interact effectively with others. They are often referred to as ‘people skills’ or ‘interpersonal skills’ and are generally not taught as part of formal education. Skills like organisation, problem-solving, adaptability, integrity, teamwork, time management, critical thinking, being a team player and being a great communicator are considered soft skills
Soft skills are important in the workplace because they help you to work well with others and to contribute to the overall success of an organisation. Employers often value soft skills as much as, or even more than, technical skills, as they can be difficult to teach and are essential for building and maintaining positive relationships and productivity in work environments.
In today's job market, when choosing between two potential hires who have similar qualifications, many organisations are now looking for a candidate with better ‘soft skills’. LinkedIn's Global Talent Trends report found that 92% of talent acquisition professionals believe that soft skills are equally or more important than hard skills in the hiring process. And 89% said that when a new hire doesn't work out, it's usually because they lack essential soft skills.
Human-centric soft skills are even more important today than say a year ago, with the rapid rise of artificial intelligence and automation in the tech industry and business community more broadly, soft skills will be increasingly important to complement, interpret and utilise the capabilities of machines.
Deloitte Access Economics forecasts that soft skill intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030 (compared to half of all jobs in 2000). And the number of jobs in soft skill intensive occupations is expected to grow at 2.5 times the rate of jobs in other occupations. With soft skills in demand, now is the perfect time to learn, upskill and develop them.
Communication as a workplace skill is the ability to actively listen, speak, and write effectively, tailor your communication style to different audiences and effectively resolve conflict. Good communication skills are crucial for team collaboration, project management and product promotion.
For example, customer success managers need to have strong written and verbal communication skills to effectively resolve customer complaints and preserve customer loyalty.
Develop your communication skills by:
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. RocheMartin research showed that higher levels of emotional intelligence results in greater abilities to adapt constructively to disruption, maintain a positive focus and manage mood, all capabilities of employees at successful tech companies.
For example, implementation specialists need to tap into their emotional intelligence and demonstrate patience and empathy when conducting training sessions with clients to teach them how to use the software.
Develop your emotional intelligence by:
Creative thinking skills are the ability to generate fresh and innovative ideas, approaches, or solutions to problems. Creative thinking is a key soft skill when working in technology, as it allows individuals to think outside the box and come up with original and creative solutions to challenges and improvements for services and products.
It’s also interesting to note creativity was ranked third on the World Economic Forum’s list of key skills employees will need to thrive in the workplace during the fourth industrial revolution.
For example, product marketers need to use their creativity when developing a go-to-market strategy and advertising campaign to launch a new product or service. Creative thinking is essential when deciding how and where to retail the new product, making sure consumers are aware of it and know how to use it properly.
Develop your creative thinking by:
Problem solving is a skill that involves identifying and addressing challenges or issues in a logical, systematic, and effective way. It is a crucial skill to possess when working at a tech company because you face a constant stream of challenges that require analysis, brainstorming potential solutions, identifying the best course of action, implementing the solution and evaluating its effectiveness and making necessary adjustments.
For example, UX researchers harness insights from current and future end-users to solve user experience problems and come up with novel ways to apply design principles for the betterment of the product.
Develop your problem solving capabilities by:
There are many soft skills that are essential for unlocking a successful career in the technology industry. The most important are stellar communication skills, emotional intelligence, creativity and problem solving. These soft skills allow individuals to effectively collaborate with team members, communicate with clients and stakeholders, and come up with innovative solutions to problems; what the challenge, reward and thrill of working in tech is all about!
Developing and honing your soft skills will help you land that job and thrive in the fast-paced, constantly evolving modern tech industry.
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