Building your non-tech skills for your IT career

Imagine you are in school and one of your classes the teacher is always happy and entertaining and walks through the class accepting questions as he/she goes through the lesson making the class very interactive and interesting. Now imagine in another class you are in the teacher reads off of the slides, barely looks at the students and brushes off questions with answers like “it is in the text book”. Which lesson do you think you would like better and learn more from?
When talking to clients or attending a job interview communication skills will play as big of a role in your success as the actual technical skills that you have developed.

Communication

People have said things to me like “I log into my Ethernet but it doesn’t work”.
People that you talk to during your tech career will often not have as much knowledge as you and may describe what they are doing in very strange ways that don’t make sense. Also when you describe for example active directory and domain trust relationship and how that will affect your ADFS setup to Office 365/Azure Active Directory, non tech peoples eyes will just glaze over because you are using technical jargon that has absolutly no meaning to them. The ability to understand what non tech people and also the ability to take complex information and explain it in terms that anyone can understand(without making them feel like they are being talked down to) is one of the best skills that you can develop.
If you can practice these skills and refine them you will be able to communicate with clients and other employees more effectively and let them understand why your ideas are actually useful, without these skills you may have the greatest ideas but you will never be able to explain them to anyone and the ideas will never get off the ground.

Networking

Should I just add heaps of people on LinkedIn?
building your linkedin network?
Have you ever heard the old saying its not what you know its who you know?
Well that is also true in the technology field, although I hope that you also have knowledge as well as just knowing everybody. Building your network can have some great benefits for you during your career such as:
  • People to bounce ideas off
  • Others see things different from you and may have good ideas
  • You cannot know everything and people in your network may possess skills that you do not
When I am talking about building your network don’t think this just means add a million people in your industry on LinkedIn, what we are talking about is building meaningful professional relationships with people that are in your industry. Remember that relationships are not just one sided and you will need some give and take, you will need to be willing to assist them as well as them assist you.

Business Knowledge

One challenge that faces business owners and managers is finding employees who have a firm grasp of business knowledge and work with the businesses larger goals in mind. You need to understand ROI (Return On Investment) and how different technology solutions can change business to either reduce costs or increase profitability. In today’s world it is alright to have strong technical skills but if you can mix this with a firm understanding of how businesses work then this can really set you apart from others that are in our field.

Conclusion

So having technical skills alone is not enough to get ahead. If you cannot communicate with people then how are you ever meant to get a job and thrill an employer that is going to be hiring you.
Building these non technical skills will help you in your career and allow you to move forward.

 

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