Top Skills Employers Want
Got a knack for technology? Good communication skills? An ability to adapt to changing times? Then you're just the type sought by a growing number of iT recruiters, who say they're looking for workers who have a package of skills - technical smarts combined with soft skills, such as business acumen and interpersonal abilities.
The degree of technical skills required to work in iT varies widely, depending on the position. Technical skills include A+, Network+, MCTS, MCITP, Linux+, Server+, Convergence, MCSE, PMP and more.
A programmer obviously needs more in-depth tech expertise than someone in a customer support role. Not everyone needs to be a tech guru to succeed in iT, but some degree of proficiency with technology is a must. Certification is the industry standard for employers to validate your technological know-how.
Soft skills - increasingly important to hiring managers
- Business acumen: By understanding their companies' products and conveying information to customers in an attractive way, iT professionals contribute to a company's bottom line. Those with experience in vertical industries (for example, finance, manufacturing or utilities) can quickly immerse themselves in new projects where technology helps improve delivery channels or product development. For example, an iT professional who brings risk management experience to a bank will be a more effective systems developer. Those with sales or marketing experience also have a leg up.
- Creative problem-solving skills: Much of the growth of technology can be attributed to superior problem-solving skills. The rigorous, methodical nature of iT demands that professionals have the ability to break processes down into their constituent parts and develop logical frameworks to solve problems. Being an effective troubleshooter is important when confronted by complex iT problems.
- Communication and team-work skills: As new standards and technologies are introduced into the business, it is important that employees be able to articulate these changes internally and externally. Given the interdependent nature of computers within an organization, businesses also rely on their iT staff to work collaboratively on projects. Strong listening, writing and research skills ensure effectiveness at adapting to changes and at conveying information to colleagues and customers.
- Adaptability: Information technologies and the ways they are used by organizations are constantly changing. Workers have to be able to adapt to these changes, learning new technologies and building knowledge of new business processes. Also, adaptability is important for job searches - those who are prepared to learn new technologies or business processes will have the best chance of getting work.
- Project management: Project management skills are of increasing importance as businesses implement projects on a 'just in time' basis. Realistic planning and allocation of resources, appropriate delegation, time management and timely communication are all important components of minimizing the time to market for a project.
Employers Want the Full Package|
While technical skills are essential, research indicates that a versatile workforce will be the face of iT over the next decade, including workers with more rounded skills such as business, finance and analysis.
Also, technology employees are working less in isolation than in the past, and are increasingly interacting with both other iT areas and functional business groups to meet organizational goals.
In a recent Robert Half Technology survey of Corporate Information Officers, 41% of them said they are putting greater emphasis on knowledge of business fundamentals when reviewing iT job applicants.