Movies and TV shows often depict tech professionals as socially awkward nerds who know little about expressing themselves in a way that “normal” people would understand. While this stereotype has some entertainment value, it’s actually far from the truth.
In today’s modern world, many information technology (IT) professionals are the total package.
In other words, they not only have the technical know-how but also the necessary non-technical skills to apply their knowledge and thrive in their chosen field.
And rightly so, considering that soft skills (or core competencies) are among the most critical qualifications for tech jobs, according to a study on new foundational skills in the digital world.
Because of this, every tech professional needs to develop the following six skills when looking for IT jobs in the UAE.
Communication is one of the most highlighted skills in any field, including IT.
Given the nature of their job, tech professionals must be able to communicate well so they can translate IT jargon into layman’s terms. This applies to written proposals and emails, as well as oral presentations.
They are also expected to have listening and comprehension skills that’ll allow them to understand complex ideas that they will later relay to teammates or clients who may or may not be well-versed in tech.
Since communication is a two-way street, IT professionals can’t always be the ones talking. They must also learn how to listen to and understand others.
Because of the increasing number of technical skills employers need, a single IT professional may not be enough for an entire company. That said, developers and tech engineers must have the necessary collaborative mindset and skills to rise to the top.
In the past, coding proficiency was considered one of the most vital requirements in an IT professional. But now, managers recognize that certain projects, like software development, must be completed by an entire team.
If you want to experience professional growth in IT, you must understand and accept that there are certain practicalities to collaboration. That means you must also learn to work well with others to deliver your clients’ expected outcomes and avoid being labeled as someone difficult to work with.
3. Project Management
IT professionals, especially those aiming for a supervisory or managerial position, must also have a project management background to grow in the tech industry. Although it may require additional training, it’ll be worth it.
Aside from time and resource management, project management courses for IT also deal with information systems, computers, and infrastructure. You’ll also learn about the planning, scheduling, execution, monitoring, and reporting of IT projects.
While many sectors concentrate on information technology alone, almost all industries have an IT component. This means that, even if you enter a non-technical field, you’ll be able to use your IT project management (ITPM) skills to the fullest.
However, this broad scope of ITPM can be a double-edged blade. While it does open more job opportunities, it also expands the range of your responsibilities as an IT professional, which can already include risk management, software updates, interdependent integrations, etc.
This is why time management is also a crucial skill for IT professionals.
Time management plays a more significant role in a collaborative setting because even a single person missing the deadline could affect the entire project.
However, time management is not only about sticking to a strict schedule. IT professionals also need to be flexible in setting aside “in-between” time for tasks that are not part of their everyday routine.
4. Critical Thinking
IT professionals also need to have the ability to think on their feet. Not only is this a requirement set forth by employers, but it also makes you more effective and ideal for a job in the tech industry.
You see, employers need to know that you’ll be able to come up with solutions or make decisions based on facts, no matter the circumstances. With a high level of critical thinking, you’ll be able to analyze and deal with problems productively.
Critical thinking skills also make you a more flexible IT professional. Rather than having a fixed mindset, you can come up with and accept solutions that may not be the most obvious, routine, or expected.
When presented with an IT problem that can affect the wider company, who would you hire: someone who only knows canned solutions or a professional who thinks outside the box?
Many employers would choose the latter because creative people look at the bigger picture and consider all possibilities by running through what-if scenarios that could require unique, groundbreaking solutions.
As an IT professional, you must be able to look and move forward, developing solutions and anticipating the company’s technical needs. This forward-thinking approach requires you to become more creative and resourceful in problem solving.
In the tech world, it’s not uncommon for unexpected changes or setbacks to occur. Whether it’s a technical or human-caused problem, an excellent IT professional must be able to adapt.
Given the quick pace of the tech industry, a pivot on a moment’s notice is quite common. There are cases where an initial project developed over a week can be scrapped instantly when a new solution emerges.
Companies and organizations hire experts who understand, accept, and adjust to these changes as they happen.
IT professionals must be able to move forward and focus on finding a solution that will have the most significant advantages.
Be the Total IT Package
IT professionals must have technical and non-technical skills to succeed in their chosen careers.
Although there are many requirements you may need to meet, these six are among the new foundational skills in the digital economy that people in tech must focus on cultivating.
Jerrin Samuel is the Executive Director at Regional Educational Institute (REI) in Abu Dhabi. Since 1995, REI has been at the forefront of education by delivering quality corporate training courses in the UAE, helping many businesses and organizations achieve greater productivity and higher customer satisfaction levels.