Are you looking to thrive or reinvent yourself in the IT profession? The first step is to be fully aware of your weaknesses, strengths, and passions, and then build upon your assets or gaps from there. Soft skills play an important role in workplace success, along with other key traits and talents.
Here are 10 in-demand skills that IT professionals will need in 2022:
Know your OTI (opportunity to improve) by self-evaluating and seeking feedback from your mentors, peers, or colleagues. This will enable you to embrace continuous improvement as you work on addressing your weaknesses. Self-awareness is a key to transformation; it will enable you to figure out which job role matches well with your personality and also signal to your colleagues that you are open-minded and receptive to feedback.
People often sell themselves short because they fear how their employer or colleagues will react if they bring their whole self to work. However, employers today prefer authentic, multi-talented candidates with unique backgrounds and perspectives. So, instead of hiding a talent that you have – such as public speaking – why not highlight it? That way, as you serve in your current role as an IT professional, you can also assist your company’s PR efforts or speak at industry events, for example. Authenticity is essential for you to build your personal brand in the workplace.
[ Improve your communication prowess and other soft skills: Read How to build soft skills: 10 must-read books. ]
Understanding how to take care of yourself and achieve work/life balance is an asset not only on a personal level but also in the workplace. Being a workaholic can become a disorder that creates toxicity in the workplace by causing burnout, reducing effectiveness, and making others feel inadequate. Find techniques to release workplace stress, such as exercising.
4. Critical thinking
Problem-solving is an essential soft skill that enables you to determine both the cause and the appropriate solution of an issue. For example, the pace of business today is fast, and customers expect swift, high-level service. IT professionals helping to resolve a customer complaint or working on a help desk must be able to resourcefully address problems before they become a bigger headache for the company on social media or elsewhere.
5. Attention to detail
Paying close attention to detail is necessary to align strategy with technology outcomes. For example, one simple coding error can disrupt an entire program or misconfigure a server. Firewall rules can create vulnerabilities, and gathering and documenting faults instead of facts in an IT audit report could ruin your credibility as an IS auditor. Being detail-oriented can prevent these kinds of problems.
If you’re an IT pro who can effectively explain what you do to a non-technical person or present a business case to management so that they understand it fully, you have the important skill of effective communication. The ability to listen and understand other people’s points of view without biased judgment is also a superpower.
7. Influence and advocacy
In today’s IT industry, people buy people, not products. If someone knows you or your brand, they are more likely to transact business with you than if they don’t know you or have never heard of your services. Therefore, advocacy – being able to represent or sell your company’s service even if you are not part of the marketing or sales team– is another soft skill that is becoming vital.
[ Also read: 3 essential soft skills IT pros need. ]
You may not always agree with your clients or coworkers, but the ability to listen to others, negotiate, and reach common ground is a valuable soft skill for any IT professional. For example, when a draft report is issued in an IS audit, there may be findings that require you to negotiate with an audit client. The same thing applies when selling an IT solution – you must master the skill of negotiation so that your services are appropriately valued.
Most companies thrive through innovation and often measure their staff KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on the number of creative ideas presented to the innovation team. Employers prefer candidates who will bring new ideas to advance the company’s growth over those who wait to be told what to do.
10. Ability to learn new technologies
With the dynamic emerging technology landscape, IT professionals must be adaptable to change and able to learn and embrace the secure implementation of new technologies. For example, IT auditors who don’t embrace the use of emerging technologies like IoT or AI in their work will likely be replaced by those who do. That holds true for other IT disciplines as well.
Considering these important skills, how should IT professionals prepare themselves now and in the future?
Apply best thinking versus best practice. The pandemic disrupted everything, so before implementing recommended best practices, consider the current situation and use your judgment to determine if you are addressing the right issue with the right solution. Then implement a control or solution.
Maintain a commendable work ethic. Don’t wait to be supervised; be productive. With remote work now the norm, employers need to trust their employees to deliver and remain productive in all work models. Strive to consistently deliver great services; a positive mindset, strong time management, integrity, and a proactive approach to work should always be your standard.
Be disciplined and consistent. In the IT profession, discipline and consistency are the new IQ. For example, I wear different hats as an author, director, information systems auditor, company founder, mentor, speaker, and podcast host. Sometimes people ask, “How do you do all that?” My response raises eyebrows: I am likely one of the laziest people you could meet, but discipline and consistency keep me focused.
[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]