More than Code: How Soft Skills Shape of IT Professionals

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More than Code: How Soft Skills Shape of IT Professionals
IT Outsourcing

In today's dynamic world of technology, soft skills not only add value but are also a crucial determinant of success in the IT industry. Rapid changes and ever-evolving challenges present individuals with new requirements, making interpersonal skills a key element in achieving professional success.

Are soft skills crucial for success in IT?

Research conducted by the renowned firm Deloitte sheds new light on the future of the job market, predicting that by 2030, two-thirds of jobs will require soft skills. This phenomenon becomes particularly significant even in professions traditionally associated with technical requirements. As noted by a director at Cisco, shifting market demands require employees, regardless of their roles in sales, delivery, or support, to thoroughly understand customers, their needs, and expectations to deliver unique solutions.

Current trends in the IT market clearly indicate that even for programmers, soft skills are becoming crucial. The importance of these skills balances with technical abilities, creating a comprehensive profile of a modern programmer, most sought after in today's IT industry. Developers are not just executors; they are also business partners capable of not only delivering a finished product but also providing expert support and creative solutions at every stage of a project.

What value do soft skills bring to the business?

Let's examine a situation where two programmers showcase similar technical skills but significantly differ in social competencies. Which one would be more attractive to an employer?

During the technical assessment in the recruitment process, both candidates demonstrated a similar level of knowledge and programming skills. However, what makes a crucial difference between them is their social competencies. The first candidate stands out for being communicative, open, responsive, initiative-taking, and thinking outside the box. On the other hand, the second candidate is distant, provides brief answers, and avoids exploring additional solutions.

Undoubtedly, the employer would choose the first candidate, bringing numerous benefits. 

  1. One key advantage is the ability to build strong and lasting relationships with clients. A communicative programmer not only deeply understands the client's needs but also presents technical issues in a simple and accessible manner, contributing to more effective collaboration.
  1. Another area where the social competencies of the first candidate bring benefits is mentoring. Open communication facilitates the flow of information between mentor and learner. Effective knowledge and experience sharing become crucial, accelerating team development and strengthening the organization's overall competencies.
  1. It is also worth highlighting that communication skills and openness to initiatives foster creative problem-solving. A non-conventional approach to challenging situations allows for finding innovative solutions and effectively dealing with complicated cases.

How to verify soft skills?

Verifying soft skills can be challenging, as they are difficult to measure objectively compared to technical skills. The key moment in this assessment is the interview, where the recruiter carefully analyzes the candidate's business manners, engagement, and communication skills. It is essential to note that the effectiveness of this process often depends on the relevance of questions asked and the methods applied.

  • Behavioral Questions: Key to Understanding Soft Skills

The verification of soft skills often relies on behavioral questions, requiring the candidate to share specific past situations. An example question, such as "Tell me about a situation where you convinced your supervisor to use your solution," allows the recruiter to better understand how the candidate handled specific circumstances.

  • Case Study: Simulating Real Challenges

Additionally, the value in assessing soft skills lies in case studies. Designing a task that simulates a real work situation allows the candidate to demonstrate how effectively they deal with challenges and make decisions in practice.

  • Attention to Details: Interview Preparedness

Some organizations also pay attention to interview preparedness. Recruiters assess whether the candidate considered the technical aspect of the meeting and chose a calm place for the interview. Choosing such a location reflects the candidate's professionalism. While this may sound like an obvious cliché, there have been instances where candidates conducted interviews from a mechanic's waiting room or from the kitchen while preparing dinner.

  • Not Just Words: Business Culture on All Fronts

However, the interview is not the only moment for verifying skills. An experienced recruiter considers several additional aspects throughout the process:

  1. Punctuality: Being on time is not just a display of high business culture but also evidence of the candidate's commitment and motivation.
  2. Responsiveness: The speed at which a candidate responds to messages can be an indicator of task prioritization skills and effective time management.
  3. Communication Style: Analyzing how a candidate responds to emails or conducts conversations allows for insights into how they will communicate with clients.
  4. Negotiation Techniques: The way a candidate negotiates employment conditions (contracts, finances) allows for an assessment of the persuasive methods they use to advocate for their positions.

Balancing Soft and Technical Skills

Often, there is a challenging dilemma when choosing between a candidate with strong technical skills but weaker social competencies and a less technically advanced person with impressive soft skills. The decision on which path to take usually requires a deep analysis of the entire recruitment process and intense discussions between the HR department and hiring managers.

When choosing a candidate with strong technical skills but weaker social competencies, it's essential to consider the specifics of the position and the team context. While excellent technical proficiency may be essential, especially in the IT industry, it is crucial to understand that effective teamwork, communication, and collaboration skills are equally important.

On the other hand, when selecting a candidate less technically advanced but with high soft skills, it's worth considering whether there is an opportunity to develop their technical skills during employment. Individuals with strong social competencies can contribute to better team dynamics, crucial in projects requiring collaboration and idea exchange.

The final decision should result from a thorough analysis and a balanced approach. It's essential to consider the team in which the new person will work and identify areas where skill gaps can be filled. HR departments and hiring managers should conduct detailed interviews with candidates to precisely assess their potential, flexibility, and readiness for development.

Soft Skills and Organizational Culture

Soft skills are a key pillar in building an effective organizational culture as they influence various aspects of a company's functioning. Focusing on continuous development of social competencies creates a team that not only collaborates but also supports each other. Members of such a team can rely on each other, contributing to a significantly friendlier atmosphere in the organization.

Empathy, engagement, and openness form the foundation for collaboration. Thanks to these skills, employees not only understand each other better but are also more inclined to solve problems together and achieve common goals. The impact of soft skills on employee engagement is undeniable. A team where members feel supported experiences a higher level of job satisfaction.

The effectiveness of communication within an organization is a crucial element. Employees who can communicate effectively eliminate potential misunderstandings, leading to a smooth flow of information within the team.

Additionally, the company's ability to adapt to changes is largely dependent on the flexibility of the workforce. Soft skills enable the team to adapt more easily to new situations, crucial in a dynamic business environment.

In Summary: The Ideal Candidate, Who Is It?

In today's IT environment, the perfect candidate is not only a specialist with deep coding skills but also someone with developed soft skills. In the context of modern industry requirements, communication, collaboration, and flexibility are as crucial as perfect technical skills.

It's essential to consider how to evenly develop both these areas of competence. The combination of excellent programming skills with strong interpersonal skills creates a comprehensive profile of an IT professional. A profound understanding of not only programming languages but also effective communication, teamwork, and adaptability translates into the success of a candidate in modern IT.

When asking how to evenly develop both these domains, it's worth investing in training and developing social skills concurrently with improving technical competencies. A perfect balance between these aspects may be the key to building a versatile and effective IT professional ready to meet the challenges of the contemporary industry.

About The Author
Magdalena Smardz

Magdalena has been involved in HR since 2017. Her area of work covers a wide range of issues, from team management to creating a positive organisational culture. For her, human resources is not only about jobs, but above all about the people who make up a cohesive and close-knit team.