Within the tech industry, there is a wide range of interesting careers from software engineers to web developers, game developers, information security analyst and much more. Not only are there careers to cover a broad range of skills, but these roles are also often highly paid, with tech jobs often appearing in the top ten best-paid professions among physicians, dentists, and engineers.
However, it takes more than IT skills to succeed in this kind of profession, and people don’t always realize the number of different strengths you’ll need to get into the top roles. Here are some skills that people in tech may need.
Skills You Need to Succeed in Your Tech Career
There’s an outdated stereotype that people in tech are antisocial and don’t work well with others, perhaps because people think that those who are skilled in IT stare at screens all day. However, in the modern tech industry, this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when it comes to landing the most coveted roles.
Top firms now test interpersonal skills in interviews, from verbal communication to emotional intelligence, and companies seek people who can balance these skills with the IT knowledge they need.
When you develop your career in tech, you’re likely to have a team to lead, so it helps to take some time to learn leadership skills. You have to learn to be decisive and make difficult decisions at time, speaking in an authoritative way so that people trust your judgments. Good leaders mentor and encourage their team members, whether they’re working towards solving a problem or taking on a new challenge, so there are many ways these skills are valuable to the tech industry.
Within the tech industry, many jobs are in smaller startups, which can be exciting places to work. They’re often started by people who have a big idea for the next amazing app or piece of software that’s going to change the world. Business skills are needed in these kinds of roles, as they help you to raise money for the company, balance the books and find ways to take the idea to the next level. If you already work in tech, it may be worth looking at business-related qualifications to help boost your profile. Click here to find out more.
Tech roles often include a lot of problem-solving. You need to be able to identify a problem and unpick what has gone wrong, before finding solutions to fix it. There are many different methods used in problem-solving, but learning PDCA is one of the simplest – Plan-Do-Check-Act:
- Plan – identify the issue and gather facts. Think about the root causes of the problem and where you want to be
- Do – implementing the solution
- Check – running tests to see whether it has worked and checking the data
- Act – if it has worked, keep notes on how and why it worked; if it hasn’t, then repeat PDCA
Breaking down problems in these ways makes things easier for those who aren’t natural problem solvers and need a logical way to do things. Many tech interviews will now include questions about problem-solving skills, so have a think about times in your current role, or even when studying, where you needed to solve an issue and the steps you went through to solve it. If you can give a specific answer with an example, that’s a bonus.
Time management and meeting deadlines
Many tech roles involve working on projects or resolving issues before a deadline, so companies will want to know that you have good time management skills. If you’re someone who’s always sending off emails at the last second or work yourself into a panic when deadlines are looming, then time management is something you may need to work on.
While some people naturally organize their time, other people need to learn to meet deadlines. Some ways you can do this include:
- Keeping a calendar marked with project deadlines
- Breaking down what needs to be done and when
- Adding a ‘cushion’ – i.e., completing the work slightly early in case anything needs to be modified
- Creating a reward system for when you meet certain points, so you can enjoy working through the process
Those who work in STEM industries may not think they have a creative side, but they often do. Being creative is about more than making works of art, it’s the ability to think outside the box and come up with new solutions. It means you can find ways to implement the technical discoveries you’ve made in the real world so that people can use them. If you have creative skills, don’t be afraid to showcase them on your resume, as recruiters will see you’re a well-rounded individual.
People who work in tech often work within a small team, and then your team probably has to work with other teams in the same organization to get the work done. It’s like a well-oiled machine with lots of moving parts. While pretty much every job advert will talk about how they want people to work well in a team, within tech, it’s something you may need to work on if you’re usually someone who prefers working solo. Read some articles about teamwork and learn the basic principles in your spare time, as this will teach you lessons you can use in the real world.
A common theory of teamwork is based around Belbin’s roles. These are named after a researcher who studied the behaviors of people working in teams and noticed there are always people who fill certain roles, from the resource investigator who has negotiating and networking skills to the monitor-evaluator who critically analyzes information and carefully makes decisions.
Being good with numbers
Most tech roles involve using coding and complex software, which means you need to have strong numerical skills. Innumeracy is a problem in America, and while most STEM degrees require good math skills, some graduates still aren’t confident when it comes to using numbers. Some people also go into tech without a STEM degree, so they may find it difficult to analyze information and work with complex numbers. You can take math courses that improve your basic skills, but often it’s practice and simply getting stuck in that can help you overcome your anxiety.
If you’re someone who’s good at IT and numbers, you may see things in black and white and take them at face value. However, critical thinking skills are useful in tech, as they help you answer your own questions and find solutions to problems. When you’re presented with information, you need to be able to challenge it and revise your conclusions when you get new evidence, rather than being rigid in your thinking. Some companies now carry out critical thinking assessments when people apply for roles, such is the importance of this particular skill.
Whether it’s investors or potential customers, presentation skills are key in the tech sector as you’ll often have to show your ideas to people. The most challenging part is when you need to present a technical idea to a room full of non-tech people, as it can be hard to explain the reasons why you’re doing certain things. There are a number of articles online about presenting to non-technical audiences that can help in this regard.
In general, you don’t need to be Steve Jobs to give a presentation. As long as you’re well-prepared, practice your speech and speak clearly, you’ll come across well. Many tech interviews now include candidates giving a short presentation on a certain subject, so it’s worth overcoming your nervousness and learning to speak to an audience.
From emails to technical instructions, there are many occasions when people who work in tech might need to convey something in writing. Those who work in tech may not have spent much time honing their writing skills, but again, you don’t need to get to an advanced level. Some people who work in tech tend to write short, abrupt messages that can come across as a little rude, so if you need help with business communications, consider downloading Grammarly or a similar app that automatically checks your tone as well as spelling and grammar.
A well-rounded personality
Because the tech industry can be competitive and a little cut-throat, some people tend to show their more ruthless side when it comes to looking for a tech job. However, the industry also relies on networking and word of mouth, so it’s important to be professional, friendly and generally a pleasant person to work with. The person who’s working in your team today may well be running their own influential business by next year, such is the fast-paced nature of tech, so it’s important always to stay in a networking mindset and develop your skills, as you never know where this might take you.