A successful career in the IT industry is about a lot more than the technical skills you currently possess. More than a lot of other industries, technical professionals are expected to expand and evolve their skillset over time. But, while you may be focused on picking up a ton of new technical knowledge, it’s important to strengthen some of your soft skills too. Why? Because these 4 essential soft skills can propel your career progress, help you rebound when you make a mistake, and generally make you a more attractive employee to hire (which could mean a lot more money over the course of your career).
1. Self-control: In order to stay on track with big goals or regularly sacrifice some of your personal time to learn new technology and expand your career horizons, you need to exercise self-control. When you’re able to resist temptations and make short-term sacrifices in order to pursue more meaningful long-term goals, you’ll advance a lot farther and a lot faster in your career. If you want to enhance this soft skill, start with something small like setting aside 10 minutes a night to read your favorite tech blog or 30 minutes a night to work on a side project. Self-control is like a muscle that builds and gets stronger with regular, disciplined practice. You can certainly improve yours over time and it will be a well-rewarded effort!
2. Curiosity: People who are curious are often able to learn faster and better than others. Why? Because they actually have an interest in the learning process as well as the subjects they’re learning. And, while you may think curiosity is a stagnate soft skill that you can’t improve upon, there are a few tactics you can use to enhance your curiosity (although a healthy dose of passion and interest about coding & technology certainly helps). From diversifying your interests to asking more questions to reading widely & regularly, you can find a lot of ways to amp up your curiosity and it will pay off over the course of your career.
3. Communication: One of the most commonly desired soft skills—not just for technical professionals but across all industries and positions—is top notch communication skills. For a technical professional specifically, these can open avenues like Lead, Architect, Manager, Consultant, and even C-suite positions that will be hard to come by if your communication skills aren’t up to snuff. The best way to improve on your communication is to practice, practice, practice! Mirror the way your boss or other colleagues you respect communicate, practice more active listening, be aware of your body language cues, find simple ways to communicate complex technical ideas, and you’ll start to improve your communication skills & career prospects.
4. Problem Solving: Finally, any programmer or coder knows that problem solving is a key element of the job. It is both a soft skill and an essential skill to have if you want any of your technical skills to be worth something. You probably already understand how problem solving can accelerate your career or stop it in its tracks, but do you regularly try to improve your problem solving skills? You should! You can work on logic puzzles or games, use mind maps to help visualize problems, try different tactics for effectively evaluating options, make lists of possible solutions and eliminate from there, or even just get a better night’s sleep to improve your cognitive function at work each day.
If you’re looking to have a long, successful career as a technical professional, you’ll need to develop more than technical skills. These four essential soft skills can make or break an IT career. Use the aforementioned tactics to improve yours and watch as your hard work pays off in raises, more attractive job offers, promotions, and career longevity.