If you're a professional who works in information technology, or IT, there are several skills you need to be successful. These skills allow you to be an efficient and valued employee. When you have a healthy balance of 'hard' technical and 'soft' behavior and personality traits skills, you become a well-rounded IT professional who can handle a variety of situations and tasks. In this article, learn about the top skills you need—and most desired by employers—to succeed in information technology.
What are IT skills?
IT skills encompass a broad range of technical skills and programming knowledge, along with important interpersonal skills that help you interact with your team. The technical skills learned on-the-job and in college provide you with the knowledge you need to perform your tasks, while the behavior-based skills like communication and leadership help build positive relationships with your coworkers and clients.
IT skills you need now:
While you might already possess several IT-related skills, you may not be aware of the top skills that can make you a more competitive job candidate and valued employee. With a strong skillset comprised of these 'hard' and 'soft' skills, you'll be ready to take on any situation with confidence.
Strong communication skills are important in nearly every aspect of life, especially in the workforce. This is a universal, important skill that will help you positively interact with your colleagues as you assist and interact with others about technology-related concepts. You may work as a developer, engineer or system administrator in a team of people. IT professionals not only communicate constantly with members of their team, but they also communicate with the other departments of a company and with people outside the company. From staff meetings to one-on-one tech support calls to conversations with your colleagues, there is always an opportunity to communicate. Ensure that you do it well.
Being organized at work will help you become an efficient employee. Companies hire those who demonstrate great organizational skills because it means they know how to perform their work well and on schedule. Every day at work presents new challenges that will test your ability to manage your workload. If you're organized, you'll positively demonstrate your productivity levels and be known as a valuable employee, which may lead to a raise or promotion in the future.
Some people are intimidated by leading when it doesn't come naturally to them. However, don't let your fears discourage you. Leadership can be learned by first helping others who need assistance with a tough concept or duty. Being friendly and willing to help prepares you for bigger tasks like giving a presentation or leading a group discussion. It's all about taking small steps.
5. Analytical abilities
As an IT professional, you'll be involved with a variety of projects that require you to analyze database activity and recommend improvements. You may also be in a position where you'll need to troubleshoot something that is not working properly. Being able to think critically and analytically will help you discover the solutions you need to perform your job effectively.
Businesses often seek employees who can generate new ideas. Oftentimes, employers will ask their teams to provide them with a list of suggestions or solutions to a problem that the company is facing. IT professionals can contribute to the discussion in many ways when they have strong creative skills. In fact, their skills can prove incredibly useful when it comes to implementing the winning ideas. In general, IT professionals consistently look for ways to improve their processes or products.
7. Project management
Having many ongoing projects is typical in the IT department. Being able to manage your workload efficiently will illustrate your ability to multitask in a way that helps you meet deadlines, reach goals and resolve issues. Having solid project management skills appeals to employers in most career fields because it means that time and money are used appropriately.
Most people in the workforce need some level of perseverance to be successful at what they do. Without a challenge, there is rarely a change. When the time comes for an interview, you'll want to tell your potential employer that you're not afraid to take on bigger projects or learn new things. When you continue working toward a resolution, you'll find the success that keeps you going.
Members of the IT department are known to have strong troubleshooting or problem-solving skills. Whenever people run into tech-related issues that stop them from working or doing the things they love, they'll call tech support if they can't figure it out themselves. You may be working with difficult algorithms that take some time. This is where your technical knowledge and years of hands-on experience will really help you find the solutions you need.
Knowing what resources you have and how to use them is a great skill to have as an IT professional. You may be limited on budget, time or another element outside of your control. But with the right resources, you can overcome any obstacles preventing you from your project goals. Resourcefulness can enhance not only your work experience but that of your colleagues, as you'll want to share with them what you've learned.
Your desire to learn new things will guide your career to greater levels of success. If you remain curious, you will naturally want to seek the answers to the things you want to know. Curiosity leads you to new discoveries, which educates you further on particular concepts in technology. Once you fully understand how something operates, you can get right to the source of confusion.
12. Time management
Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. What you do with the 16 hours outside of work is your prerogative. What interests your employer is how much you can do with your eight hours at work. Explain or demonstrate how you can make the most of your work time and you'll quickly become a valued employee. Remember that when time is money, employers often reward employees who use their time responsibly.
How to improve your IT skills:
Now that you know which skills are most desirable to employers, you can set goals to improve them.
1. Develop your current skillset
You'll likely have many strong skills that help you succeed in life. Work on developing those skills and try adding a few new things that you want to improve. For example, you may be a great listener but have a hard time communicating your needs to others. The next time you are speaking with someone, try sharing a goal with them you'd like to achieve and ask how they recommend approaching it.
2. Continue your education
You may have graduated recently or years ago, but that doesn't mean you should stop learning. Since the field of technology is ever-changing, you should periodically assess your level of knowledge and set goals to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and advancements. Enroll in an online course or train for a special certification that helps you improve your technical or social skills.
3. Assume more responsibility at work
If you're feeling confident and ready to learn new things, you may want to ask for more work to show that you can handle a challenge.
4. Find a mentor to guide you
Tapping into the wisdom of another professional in your field is one of the best ways to learn something new and increase your skillset. Write down a list of your goals and connect with the person you admire who can help you achieve them. They may even be able to connect you with some valuable people or resources.
Using IT skills in the workplace:
Once you've done your research and put in the work necessary to improve your skills, there are several ways you can start to demonstrate them in the workplace:
Be accessible. Once you've done all that work to improve your skillset, be willing to share your time and talents with your colleagues.
Offer to help. If you notice a coworker struggling with a project, offer to take some of their work or show them how you've learned to work more efficiently. There may be a helpful app or a resource they don't know about.
Show initiative. Go out of your way to assist your team or other departments in the company. Offer to lead a presentation or provide the names of helpful resources you've discovered.
How to highlight IT skills:
There are many things you can do to highlight your new skillset that will make them more obvious to interviewers. Using both written and spoken language, you can educate others about your strengths. Here are a few ways you can highlight your IT skills throughout every step of the application process:
Add relevant skills to your resume:
When you're creating your resume, include your new and improved skills in the appropriate section to ensure that hiring managers see them right away. Both your job summary and job history can include details that demonstrate your ability to perform these skills that are listed individually in the skills section.
Highlight skills in your cover letter:
The cover letter is perhaps one of the most important pieces of your application because you can personalize your message to potential employers. This is a great place to expand upon your skillset and how your skills have helped you and will help you achieve success in your career.
Use skill words in your job interview:
When it's time to speak directly with the interviewer about your career and personal strengths, you'll be ready to demonstrate your skills throughout the interview. If you say you're a great communicator, you'll be able to not only mention it but show it.
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