Communication, teamwork, problem-solving, enthusiasm, organisation… All IT employers have a checklist of core competencies against which they assess candidates and it’s not just technical skills that must be up to the mark.
Developing soft skills for IT graduate jobs
Many IT graduate schemes call for soft skills and commercial awareness just as much – or more – than technical understanding, particularly for business-focused roles such as consulting. Technical graduates can find themselves up against arts or social science graduates for such roles and can sometimes miss out due to less well developed soft skills. If you need to build your confidence in giving presentations or teamwork, for example, consider taking an active role in a club or society where you can develop these.
Below is a round-up of key skills that are required for almost all IT graduate schemes.
Key skill 1: Communication
IT systems are only relevant in a business context so IT professionals need the ability to communicate well with people at all levels in an organisation, from help desk assistants and PC end users to company directors. It’s important to be able to listen and understand, as well as explain technology at an appropriate level for the audience. In client-focusing roles IT professionals must also communicate clearly with clients to understand and define system requirements.
Demonstrate your graduate communication skills by:
- Keeping verbal and written communication clear, concise and confident.
- Showing you understand your audience and can tailor your communication to them.
- Showing you can listen to and consider the views of others.
- Thinking before you speak.
Key skill 2: Planning and organisation
The IT sector is a project-focused industry. Good planning and organisation skills are essential for graduates entering the tech business, in order to manage tasks on different projects with different deadlines and competing priorities. Effective planning makes it possible to anticipate problems and challenges and transform them into positive opportunities.
Demonstrate your graduate planning and organisation skills by:
- Showing that you can put structure to a task or project.
- Highlighting how you scope out an activity and allocate time to individual tasks.
- Showing how you anticipate challenges and issues that could arise and plan contingencies.
Key skill 3: Drive, motivation and enthusiasm
Drive and motivation are essential for working in this incredibly fast-paced industry. You need to enjoy taking on new challenges, pushing boundaries and looking towards the future. Graduate recruiters warm to enthusiastic candidates because they know that enthusiastic people are motivated people.
Demonstrate your drive, motivation and enthusiasm by:
- Showing you have the determination to achieve an end result.
- Demonstrating that you can keep your optimism and enthusiasm even when things get tough.
- Showing that you can bounce back from set backs.
- Knowing what makes yourself tick and what types of task and activity you most enjoy doing.
Key skill 4: Problem-solving
Working in IT you need to have the ability to define problems in a timely manner, identify the root causes, and then gather relevant information to find appropriate solutions. But problem-solving goes beyond resolving just technical issues. You may also need to suggest enhancements to existing procedures and processes to deliver improved service, a better product and most importantly, satisfied clients.
Demonstrate your graduate problem-solving skills by:
- Displaying that you can take a logical and analytical approach to problem solving.
- Showing that you can view problems from a number of angles.
- Demonstrating that you can anticipate potential pitfalls and act to prevent them happening.
Key skill 5: Teamwork
Teamwork is essential for sharing knowledge, establishing and building relationships and supporting all the people involved on a project. Teamwork requires interpersonal skills and at times, leadership qualities so that you can consider and respond appropriately to the behaviour and motives of others, adapt your personal style accordingly, or step out in front to bring others with you.
Demonstrate your graduate teamwork skills by:
- Showing that you can build and maintain positive working relationships.
- Demonstrating how you share information with others; support others and show respect for alternative views.
- Showing how you have contributed to keeping projects on track and to achieving a final goal, working sensitively and co-operatively with others.
- Showing how you have considered and identified what motivates others and how you have led by example.