There used to be a time when IT consultants were expected to work alone or in a separate technical team. Those days are over and our clients are emphasising ‘soft-skills’ more and more. But what are soft skills and how do you develop and demonstrate them?
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are those skills you associate with personality and emotion rather than technical know-how and ability. They are important for roles that involve any team work, communicating with clients or different departments or roles that involve strategic thinking.
Can I learn soft skills?
Yes, of course you can! Okay it’s not always easy but you should never pigeon-hole yourself. Some people have natural easy, relaxed, effective people skills but many other people make a conscious effort to learn soft skills. Soft-skills are not about getting emotional, they are about negotiation, teamwork and essentially good effective business. There's loads of good advice out there - check out the links below some further advice and training opportunities.
How do I demonstrate soft skills?
When writing your CV, LinkedIn profile or application think about how you explain your experience. Rather than concentrating solely on your own achievements, demonstrate how you worked within a highly professional team, or worked with the support of expert colleagues. It shows that you value the input of others and doesn’t in any way diminish your own capabilities.
No one wants to read a gushing CV full of superlatives but there are ways of demonstrating your enthusiasm for your profession subtly. When describing past roles rather than stating pure fact add a bit of feeling. “I held the role of project manager on the SAP HCM roll out” could turn into “I had the opportunity to work as project manager on the SAP HCM roll out, which was challenging but ultimately very interesting and rewarding.” Show you care!
Employers want people who can overcome challenges, who are not afraid of criticism and who can adapt to provide what is required of them. If you had problems in a previous role use this as a positive. Demonstrate your initiative, your flexibility and your problem solving skills. How did you turn the situation around? How did you motivate your team get the project back on track?
Employers are always on the look out for good communication skills, whether to give presentations externally or just to report activities internally. If you have examples of where you had to present or negotiate they will always be looked upon favourably.
Conflict happens all the time in the workplace, sometimes it’s hardly worth mentioning, sometimes it can bring projects crashing down. If you have worked on a project with multiple stakeholders and many conflicting opinions, how did you manage it? Complex negotiations involve key soft skills and if you can demonstrate your diplomatic capabilities with clear examples you move a step ahead of the competition.
Check out these links for more information