Friday, May 16, 2014

RHT: Have Soft Skills Bypassed Tech Skills in Importance?

Robert Half Technology

by John Reed
May 15, 2014

Managers are placing increasing weight on a candidate’s soft skills.
Unemployment in the technology industry is between 3 and 4 percent, and organizations continue to feel the strain of identifying and attracting their next generation of employees.
With that said, there appears to be a growing trend by hiring managers placing a premium on the soft skills of a potential employee — and even prioritizing them over technical skills.

In my travels across North America, I continue to hear from IT leaders that while technical skills are important, they can be developed through training. However, soft skills are much more difficult to develop, and in the opinion of many out there, you either have them or you don’t.

What do I mean by soft skills? Employers in large numbers are seeking employees with these attributes:
  • Communication: IT workers with the ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.
  • Problem Solving: IT workers with the ability to look at complicated business issues and bring creative solutions to the table.
  • Customer Service: IT workers who can empathize with their customers and genuinely want to help resolve their concerns.
  • Collaboration: IT workers who can break out of traditional silos and cross-organizational boundaries to collaborate on complex business issues.
Why are soft skills becoming more relevant? Business leaders have fully embraced the value of technology initiatives and the competitive advantage they bring to their organizations. Therefore, more and more technology initiatives are receiving the funding and green light to launch.

Along with increased technology initiatives, there is associated pressure to deliver a high quality technology solution that broadly meets the needs of the organization, and that is dependent on communication and collaboration partnership between IT and the business groups.

We don’t see this premium on soft skills diminishing anytime soon and would appreciate your perspective and comments on the importance of soft skills below. Thank you.

— John Reed

John Reed is the senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. He can usually be found racking up frequent flyer miles each week traveling to RHT offices across North America and speaking to industry groups about technology hiring trends. When he’s not on the go, he serves as an armchair quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. Follow him on Twitter @JReedRHT.

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