Can You Connect?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Can you connect with people? Can you explain your requirements and needs to management? Can you deliver your expectations to your team? These soft skills are hitting high on the employment scale for companies competing in today’s marketplace. Our work environments no longer display a homogenous work group; we have 20 somethings programming next to 50 somethings, developers whose families helped to establish your state to developers who’ve just moved to your state from another country; differences range from politics and religion to race and process methodology. All of these differences need a common goal, a referee, a peace maker, a negotiator.

That’s where you come in. Network World did an article in September this year discussing this very topic. They described how employers will pick someone with a lower skill level and strong soft skills over a high skill level with no or little soft skills. They identified 5 key skills that employers are looking for:

  1. Communication – both verbal and written. Employers are looking for people who can speak in simple English. Can you talk to your non-techy friends about your work in a way that they can understand you? Do you refrain from using the millions of acronyms and technology terms in our business when talking or writing to non-technical management or staff? Do you choose being kind over being right? Then you’ve got a key skill employers are seeking.
  2. Customer Service – Having a customer driven focus to your work. Do you ask a lot of questions when users provide their requests? Do you explore the many ways their goals might be accomplished in order to find a solution that works for you both? If so, you’re demonstrating the customer service focus that is desired.
  3. Teamwork – Do you listen to everyone’s ideas? Do you know your team members personally? Teamwork is something we assume is a given skill in our technological environment with a heavy project focus, but having the ability to truly understand the members of your team, and respect their skills, knowledge level and opinions is the optimum teamwork approach.
  4. Problem-solving – Keeping your head on straight can be challenging during problem solving. Most people are emotionally and intellectually tied to their position or idea, and negotiating your way through the labyrinth is a definite skill. If you can handle conflict that arises in these situations and keep a cool head, you’ve got an important skill employers want.
  5. Business Insight – While it’s an asset to be a brilliant programmer, it’s equally important to understand how the business for which you’re designing, works, what are their business rules, the nuances of their customer interactions, the stakeholders in the enterprise. Your projects may have a huge impact to the bottom line, and your ability to understand what that entails is a strength to many employers.

If there are skills listed here that you need to learn or brush up on, go get it done! Much of this training is available at a low cost, and it will prepare you for your high salary job.

Source: 5 Career-Boosting Soft Skills By Mary Brandel, Network World, September 11, 2012