Top Skills Every IT Professional Should Have

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When employers are recruiting, they’ll be looking for applicants who are strong in two specific skill sets. While hard skills are highly desirable, you will also need to show you have the soft skills that make you a valuable team player.

To improve your chances of being recruited, you should demonstrate both your hard and soft skills to the employer. This way the employer will know they are getting a well-rounded IT professional who not only has the required expertise, but the personality qualities that will make them a valued member of the team.

This post will look at some of the most sought-after hard and soft skills, but first, we’ll define the difference between these two skill sets.


Hard skills and soft skills defined

Hard skills refer to the expertise required to do the job. Applicants acquire hard skills in several ways, including previous work experience, education, training, and certification programs. Employers usually feature the hard skills required for the position in their job description or advertisement.


Soft skills refer to interpersonal skills or “people skills.” Good interpersonal skills enable workers to get on well with the rest of the team and to get the job done with minimal fuss. In addition to hard skills, job postings or descriptions will sometimes list the desired soft skills.


Hard skills examples

1. Networking knowledge

Networking systems are becoming more complex, and they often require multitasking to manage many projects at the same time. To demonstrate networking skills, an IT professional would need to be proficient in using a variety of systems, including the ability to upgrade and build computer systems.


However, successful networking is also reliant on soft skills like problem solving, communication, and research ability.


2. Coding

One of the most important hard skills is the ability to code. Often, an employer will look for an applicant who is familiar with a range of codes so they can manage multiple systems that use different programming languages. As a hard skill, you can stay up to date by taking classes and receiving certifications. 


3. Cloud computing

Part of rounding out your skill set is building familiarity with key concepts and tools. One of these skills is knowing cloud computing inside and out. You do not need to look far to see the impact cloud computing is having on business. For example, a LinkedIn survey shows that cloud computing expertise is the most sought-after hard skill by employers. The use of cloud computing has risen considerably in the past few years, and analysts predict this trend will continue well into the future.


Several studies show that many companies use cloud computing or intend to do so. Being able to offer the latest skills employers are looking for is more important than ever, and once you are hired, it’s essential to continue learning.


4. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming part of consumers’ everyday lives. Research from Udemy for Business indicates that AI expertise will be one of the most sought-after skills in 2020. The report also states that machine learning, Python, Docker, React, and Angular will be among the most desirable IT skills throughout 2020. Java and data science skills are also valuable to professionals who want to specialize in AI.


If you fail to keep up to date with AI and other in-demand skills, you’re likely to find yourself lagging behind other IT professionals in your field. If you need to update your skills, try taking online courses or participating in a community where you can exchange ideas, share knowledge, and receive up-to-date advice and insights from subject-matter experts in the field.


5. Analytical thinking

Employers want workers who can solve problems with applied logic, see challenges from different angles, make effective decisions, and act to resolve an issue. Analytical thinking is an invaluable skill for roles in IT, accounting, logistics, and business analysis.


For example, if an issue occurs, a worker with strong analytical skills will be able to logically identify the underlying issue, organize information related to the issue, synthesize the pieces, and draw the proper conclusions to solve the problem. This valuable insight makes you an asset to the company and a potential leader, as you not only saved a lot of time and money but also prevented future mistakes. 


Soft skills examples

One survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that employers now value soft skills like integrity and reliability above hard skills. Kathy Robinson, the founder of Boston-based career coaching firm TurningPoint and former recruiter, tells Monster.com that while hard skills can be taught, “Employers are more concerned about whether a job candidate has the right attitude and work ethic.”

There are many soft skills that employers consider important, and the following soft skills are among some of the most essential.


1. Creativity

As an IT professional, you must have a strong creative streak to succeed. Creativity allows you to consider the new developments in technology that are becoming available. It also helps you to envision how these advancements can enhance the way your IT department works. 


Creativity also gives you the ability to solve problems and create solutions to issues as they arise. Sometimes, IT professionals face setbacks or unexpected changes. These setbacks may range from a technical problem you’re working on like a last-minute issue with a vendor. In these circumstances, you should be flexible and show that you can accept changes and look for creative solutions.


2. Collaboration

Collaboration is an important quality regardless of the job position, but it’s becoming a must-have skill in the IT sector. By working together as a unit, IT teams can come up with solutions to problems that inevitably occur with new technology.


As an IT professional, you will need to be a strong communicator, willing to listen to team members and able to compromise when necessary. You’ll also need to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals. When you engage in effective collaboration, it also minimizes disagreements and contributes to the creation of a happy work environment.


Strong collaborators are also keen to learn from others and get a wider range of views to solve problems. This is where joining a community of like-minded professionals can help give you the resources and environment you need to support your learning.


3. Work ethic

A good work ethic is more than working and excelling at the work you do. A good work ethic is about:

  • Dedication
  • Discipline
  • Teamwork
  • Getting to work on time
  • Working through difficult situations to meet deadlines


Workers with a strong work ethic also have a desire to further their knowledge and make an effort to always continue learning.


4. Communication

As an IT professional, you need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills. A large part of your job will involve sending out written documents such as emails, proposals, and instructions to teams, so make sure your written communications are clear and direct. Don’t forget that good verbal skills are crucial, too, especially when you are working in a team environment or communicating about changes in the workplace.


5. Leadership skills

Excellent leadership skills can mean different things to different people. However, some qualities are crucial in every good leader. These include: 

  • Taking responsibility 
  • Being able to motivate and communicate with your team 
  • Envisioning an end goal and guiding your team to achieve it 


Conclusion

To improve your chances of success as an IT professional, you need to have hard skills along with soft skills. Your resume and the examples you provide potential employers should reflect both of these types of skills. 


Whether you are new to the sector or an established IT professional, we have a community of certified experts who are available to offer fresh perspectives and new strategies. When you sign up for Experts Exchange, you’ll also have access to on-demand training that allows you to develop new skills and advance your career.



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