Stand out from the crowd: top soft skills in the digital age

Stand out from the crowd: top soft skills in the digital age
The days where getting an education, learning a specific subject or field, and continuing to rely on static knowledge throughout our careers are long gone. Technology has transformed the way organisations operate, so qualifications and technical skills alone no longer guarantee continued career success for IT professionals.

Few tech teams work well with only the hard, functional knowledge that it takes to carry out a piece of work. Soft skills are equally as important. Often gained over time, these are the kinds of skills and abilities that make the difference between high performance and low. And, according to our recent research Skills Revolution 2.0, employers are placing a higher value on soft skills and an appetite for continuous skills development when they recruit.

To help you to identify and prioritise your development needs, we asked 20,000 employers in 42 countries about the soft skills they think are most important, and why they think they are useful to have. If you want to stand out from the crowd in your next interview and in your career for the long-term, these are the skills you should be mastering. Let’s take a look at the UK’s top six soft skills in the digital age:

1. Communication – One of the most essential talents to have is good communication skills – both written and verbal. In the IT world, this is particularly important as it will help you to better communicate the business value of technical projects to key non-technical stakeholders, making it easier to get buy-in and support from them.

2. Organisation – In today’s fast changing world of work, knowing how to manage your time and prioritise your workload is key to working productively and ensuring deadlines are met. For instance, IT functions need to drive significant change in order to ensure compliance with the GDPR – and, with only a few weeks to go until it comes into force, top organisational skills will be essential.

3. Customer Service – Regardless of whether you’re customer-facing or dealing with colleagues internally, good ‘customer service’ enhances the reputation of both your business and your own personal brand. Most importantly, it’s a way to build trust with those you’re dealing with. With the IT function being an integral part of the business, the various business departments depend on your knowledge of the functionality of systems, data and processes across the organisation.

4. Problem solving – The need for solving problems can vary and depend on the type of issue, as some problems are bigger or more complicated than others. However, IT professionals are faced with new problems on a daily basis – whether it’s related to the business systems, data or processes. Being able to identify an issue, find a possible solution and then implement it is a necessity. When so much of the business world relies on technology, even a small amount of IT downtime is bound to have a significant impact on the bottom line. This skill is fundamental to the world of IT, particularly given the increasing number of cyber security threats and attacks.

5. Collaboration – Having the ability to collaborate with individuals within your team, other non-technical business functions and external stakeholders is essential in today’s connected world. Not only can it ensure a piece of work or project is carried out efficiently and completed successfully, but it helps to achieve long-term success overall. Work gets done quicker; vital knowledge is shared; multiple solutions are identified; and, most importantly, new relationships are built.

6. Leadership – Strong leadership skills aren’t just about ensuring your organisation meets its financial objectives. It’s about being proactive with finding new and better ways of working. It’s also about taking control and making decisions when it matters the most – particularly when faced with a cyberattack. It’s not just those at the top of the organisation who need strong leadership skills, either. With the constant changes that are happening in the world of work, being able to evolve, motivate and adapt your team to ensure it remains aligned with business goals is vital, no matter your level of seniority.

Ultimately, if you’re equipped with a mix of these soft skills in addition to your technical skills, you’ll stand out from the crowd in your existing role and will be attractive candidate to any potential employers. It’s also worth remembering that learning never stops. The key to long-term success is to continuously develop your soft and technical skills – to continually adapt to the changing requirements of your job, and ensure you remain employable in the long-term.

To find out more, download our whitepaper Robots Need Not Apply: Human Solutions in the Skills Revolution.