As an IT professional, the core of your job is of course to keep your company’s information technology up and running smoothly, but that part of your job doesn’t exist in isolation. Rather, to be successful as an IT professional and advance along the career ladder, there are a variety of non-technical skills that you will need. These skills will help smooth your interactions with co-workers and supervisors and will make you stand out as a skilled professional who everyone wants to work with.
1 – Learn Time Management
IT professionals must have excellent time management skills that will allow you to juggle multiple projects at once. Often there are several different technical issues across the company that need attention, and as an IT professional you will need to determine which project is the top priority, how to divide your time between projects, and which projects you can wait to handle until you are less busy.
2 – Communicate Clearly
Once you prioritize the IT projects at hand, communicating those priorities to others involved is the next necessary step. It is critical that IT professionals are able to clearly communicate both simple topics and concerns – the timeline for getting a problem fixed, for example – as well as more complicated concerns, such as the nature of a technical problem they have encountered. IT professionals should be able to communicate these things not just to other individuals in the IT field, but also to coworkers without the same level of technical expertise. The ability to explain a technical problem clearly to a non-IT professional is the sign of strong communication skills.
3 – Be a Self-Starter
Being self-motivated is an important non-IT skill that all workers can benefit from. The ability to work well without intense supervision, and the willingness to pick up projects without prompting are characteristics that will be rewarded by superiors. Self-starters make an office run more smoothly and individuals who are self-motivated are more often tapped for promotion. Leadership and self-motivation are intrinsically tied, so IT professionals who expect to advance in their companies will need to demonstrate this capacity.
4 – Demonstrate Teamwork
While being self-motivated and independent is a core strength for any IT professional, the ability to work with a team is equally necessary. Supervisors look for leadership within a team, the ability to take direction, and the ability to collaborate in creative ways. Today, there is very little work that takes place in isolation. Rather, interdepartmental teams bring together the knowledge necessary to develop a savvy business strategy.
5 – Enhance Your Business Knowledge
In our particularly precarious economy, employees are expected to demonstrate increasingly broad competencies. Studies have indicated that those IT employees who survive layoffs are most often those with the greatest knowledge of the wider business they are a part of. When deciding whom to retain, supervisors look to those who are able to operate in multiple areas of the company. Today, being “only” an IT professional can be a significant disadvantage. Technical skills may get you hired, but it is the full array of both IT and non-technical skills that will keep you on board and advance your career.