Improving Social Skills Can Boost Your IT Career
Posted Monday, May 4, 2009 by
When pursuing a career in Information Technology (IT), having strong technical skills is a must. But if you plan to advance up the IT career ladder, being strong in person-to-person interactions can be just as valuable.
In addition to the nuts-and-bolts of IT, here are some of the social skills every IT student should work on:
- Listening. It’s common for IT “geeks” to be eager to jump right into a job and complete it to their own satisfaction. But in the business world, you need to first listen to your clients/managers to truly understand the assignment you’re being given. In particular, listen carefully to pin down such key issues as your boss’ expectations and when exactly you’re supposed to complete specific work assignments.
- Cooperation. At first, the idea of being a “team player” when you’re often by yourself sitting at a keyboard may seem a bit strange. But when you’re working on large, complex assignments, you’ll often be required to be part of a team. This usually means working during agreed-upon hours, attending meetings, sharing information and, just as important, sharing credit.
- Responsiveness. Nothing drives a manager crazier than an employee who does not respond to communications. To keep things running smoothly, always respond immediately to emails, even if it’s just a quick note to say, “Message received,” “I understand” or “Thanks!” Just as important is to return missed phone calls promptly, especially when you’re being asked to supply job-related information.
- Being able to handle criticism. No one likes to be criticized, but criticism is unavoidable in a professional environment. To handle criticism successfully, look at it as an opportunity for improvement. When you’re criticized by a manager, don’t fight back or dismiss the comments as untrue; instead, ask for specifics about how you failed to meet expectations and what you can do to perform better next time. When you ask for specifics, you will often find that your boss’ complaints aren’t nearly as serious or difficult to fix as you first thought.
- Maintaining a positive attitude. Perhaps the one thing that can help you in your IT career more than anything else is having a positive attitude. This means starting your morning looking upbeat and eager to get to work. (Even if you have to fake it!) It means being happy to take on new responsibilities and offering ideas even before you’re asked. It means believing in yourself, in your abilities and the value of the work you are doing.
Remember, people like to work with people they like. In other words, if you’re the kind of person who gets along well with others, who is helpful, responsive and not likely to get into fights with managers or co-workers, your chances of moving ahead in the IT world are much higher than they’d be with just superior technical skills alone.
Contact Everest University Online today for more information on IT career training!