While companies and clients are hiring for in-demand technical skills, they also factor in soft skills during the interview process. Interviewees that can showcase both hard and soft skills have a leg up on the competition, according to our Recruiting Manager, Justin Couch.
"You can have all the right experience and certifications, but still lose a job during interview because of your communication skills," says Couch. "And it's not just how you speak, managers are looking for evidence of critical thinking, teamwork, listening and other qualities that complement your technical knowledge."
A recent CapGemini/LinkedIN survey of hiring managers found that the talent gap in soft digital skills is more
pronounced than in hard digital skills. Closing that gap means understanding what soft skills are and how to use them in the workplace. Below is our guide to common soft skills that our clients find desirable.
Clear verbal communication
As an IT consultant, you should expect to speak regularly with your clients, stakeholders, and co-workers. It’s important that you can explain your processes and recommendations clearly to a team or manager. Speaking clearly for comprehension doesn't come naturally to everyone. But speech is a skill that can be learned and practiced, so don't be afraid to look for online coursework or even a personal coach to improve in this key area.
To be an effective communicator, you need to also be a great listener.
“It’s very important to develop active listening skills as a consultant,” says Couch. “When you’re on a call, fully listen to what the speaker is saying and let them finish. If you are frequently interrupting to give your opinion, you can miss important information that the client is trying to convey." A simple tip to improve listening is to remove distractions, like your smartphone, that may detract from your focus on the speaker.
Professional writing skills
Writing well and professionally is the ultimate soft skill since it’s needed at every stage of a project. Every time you write documentation or send an email, ask yourself — “Am I getting my point across?” (Pro tip: keep emails concise and clear using this B-R-I-E-F formula.)
Proofread your emails, and your resume if you’re in the interviewing process, to ensure you don’t have any misspelled words. And when you’re communicating with colleagues and coworkers, be cognizant of the tone of your writing. You have to consider how your message will impact the receiver before you hit the ‘Send’ button.
Strong presentation skills
In addition to speaking and writing, IT consultants are often required to present project updates or recommendations to a group or large audience. Strong presenters can organize their thoughts, engage an audience and build support for their conclusions. But like any skill, practice is required. Search out tips for public speaking and ask trusted peers or advisers for feedback on any materials you are developing for an important presentation.
Consulting and problem solving go hand in hand, says Couch. "One of your goals as a consultant is to improve a client’s system or processes,” says Couch. “You’ll encounter several instances in which they are not following the most efficient workflow. Instead of criticizing it and focusing on the problems, you need to demonstrate practical solutions. Focus on the outcomes and make your working relationship an enjoyable experience for the client.”