Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: soft skills

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to soft skills.

2018 in Review: Personal and Professional Development

“New Year, New Me!” That’s the attitude people around the world are taking today as 2019 has officially kicked off. Of course, there’s no reason to be a completely brand new you if you’re generally happy with how things are going, and certainly you can improve on yourself any time.

Year-round, we share content for IT contractors to help them improve on themselves. Some posts relate to specific skills development and others suggest ways to improve soft skills. In the staffing industry, recruiters recognize time and again the importance of improving skills and updating your resume with new value-adds and differentiators. To help you succeed this year, here are the best posts about personal development that we shared in the past year…

Technical Skills

Softer Skills and Development

Which Skills to Learn First?

Soft Skills Research That May Surprise You

The greatest IT professionals — both contractors and full-time employees — are extremely skilled in their technical areas. Where the average professional is lost and confused with technology beyond MS Office, IT workers have an uncanny ability to create complex programs, fix the most confusing bugs, and organize data to provide intelligence that a business owner never thought was possible. Having these skills are the pillars to landing a lucrative tech gig, but as we’ve discussed many times in the Talent Development Centre, improving your soft skills will make you competitive in your search for IT jobs.

There are an unlimited number of soft skills out there that you can improve and deciding where to put your focus can be a daunting task. A recent contractor quick poll found that IT professionals want their co-workers to have good communication skills, emotional intelligence and time management. We also shared an infographic last year that gave more specific insight into what soft skills are most important for a Project Manager. For what should be a simple topic, when we dig into soft skills, it can easily get complicated.

Earlier this year, business consulting company West Monroe Partners conducted a study to answer questions about a soft skills gap in IT and what soft skills companies look for in technology candidates. You can download the complete report here, but if you’d prefer a good summary, InformationWeek summarized the top 10 findings:

  1. 98% of HR recruiters look for soft skills when hiring tech workers
  2. 81% of organizations ask business leaders to evaluate IT job candidates’ soft skills
  3. Most business leaders say IT pros’ soft skills are equal to or better than those of other departments
  4. Half of organizations use personality tests to assess soft skills
  5. Recruiters say IT job candidates are good at verbal communication
  6. HR recruiters say leadership is the least important skill for IT pros
  7. Organizations in NYC want flexibility and conflict resolution skills
  8. Older people want teamwork and flexibility; younger people want leadership and conflict resolution skills
  9. Male and female hiring managers look for the same soft skills
  10. Different industries have different soft skills requirements

What can we take from all of this? The good news is that if you’re part of the majority, your soft skills are exactly where they need to be! If you want to focus on something, flexibility and conflict resolution look to be the top priorities in IT hiring managers, where leadership is the least. It’s also worth keeping in mind that these priorities vary by industry.

2017 in Review: Being Awesome at Work

2017 in Review: Being Awesome at WorkWe frequently provide advice and tips for performing better at work. These softer skills may not be what brings your rate up, but they will be the differentiators that get you positive references and more likely to get you your next gig.

These posts are fantastic for time management…

And these will help you work better with and manage others…

Are there any other topics you’d like to see more of to help you improve soft skills and perform better on the job?

Are You Prepared with this One “Critical” Skill?

Some will say our post secondary institutions do a good job at preparing students for the world; however, there are critics including Freedom in Thought who believe some specific skills are not being taught, including critical thinking.

According to Freedom for Thought’s video, there are two types of thinkers — Critical Thinkers and Passive Thinkers — and it’s the critical thinkers who are most able to think rationally and succeed as a leader or teammate. Furthermore, the video argues that these thinkers are more creative and able to learn better.

IT contractors are constantly working in teams, leading others, and solving multiple problems, so critical thinking would naturally be a valuable skill in this field. Do you think you can improve yours?

Quick Poll Results: Soft Skills and Team Members

In last month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we asked Talent Development Centre readers about their co-workers. More specifically, what skills they most desire in a co-worker, aside from technical skills. The poll listed common soft skills and we asked which one you’d prefer people on your team to have, and the results were pretty clear.

While some people value emotional intelligence, time management and email etiquette, the majority of independent contractors want their IT team members to to have great communications skills. That’s something to keep in mind before you mumble your way through your next interview!

Contractor Quick Poll: Which soft skill in a team member is most important to you?

We want to work in a team full of competent IT professionals; it’s the most important factor in your project being completed successfully. But there are other elements that make a high performing team, especially their ability to work together.  Therefore, we must also consider the soft skills in team members.

Past Talent Development Centre posts defined the soft skills we believe are important. In this month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we want to know which one you believe is the most important when it comes to choosing your team.

Find More IT Jobs by Improving These Soft Skills

We talk a lot about the soft skills IT contractors need in order to succeed on gigs. Unless you’re exceptionally one-of-a-kind in your field, you can’t get away with just your programming skills or project management experience — you can only truly stand-out with the proper soft skills.

Today’s digital economy demands more than just a great education. In this video from Entrepreneur, leading scholar Ernest Wilson discusses a recent study he led. They interviewed managers from all industries to learn what they look for when hiring, and discovered that it’s beyond an impressive degree. Wilson summed up 5 in-demand, undersupplied soft skills that top companies are seeking.

Balancing Hard and Soft Skills in Project Management

In its simplest form, a Project Manager’s job is to ensure a project is completed successfully. In more complex terms, it includes managing countless aspects from people to budgets to timelines.

You don’t always need the title of Project Manager to be responsible for the completion of a project. Independent contractors are often brought into lead a specific task due to their niche skillset, and naturally end up taking on these responsibilities.

As the infographic below from Brandeis University shows, projects fail for any number of reasons. And, if you read further down, it implies that the root of these failures is lack of specific skills, both hard and soft. The infographic goes on to explain that most people excel at only one type of skill and need to work to develop the other.

Thankfully, this helpful infographic goes further to provide tips and tricks on how you can improve your hard and soft project management skills. If you’re in the profession, or a subject matter expert who gets pulled into leading projects, have a look and see how you can improve on your skills.

2016 in Review: The Softer Skills of Work

2016 in Review: The Softer Skills of WorkYesterday we shared some of 2016’s top articles and tools about training and development so you can start setting your technical skills development goals this year. While these skills make it so you can successfully complete a project, recruiters and clients alike are looking for more than your abilities. They want to know how personable you are and how advanced your “soft skills” are.

How important is it to keep these skills refreshed? Every member of Eagle’s Executive Team touched on it in 2016:

These skills include everything from basic workplace etiquette…

…to proper communication in various situations.

Finally, and possibly most importantly for a busy IT contractor, is time management. Everybody can always improve in this area, so we encourage you to check out at least one of these posts:

Develop This One Skill that Appears in 9 out of 10 Postings for the Most In-Demand Jobs

By Elizabeth Bromstein at Workopolis
This article originally appeared in the Workopolis Career Resources Blog

How many conversations have you had today? How many TV shows have you watched or podcasts have you heard? Now, how much of what you heard do you remember? How much did you actually listen?

Man and woman having a conversationI know I have a problem listening a lot of the time. I “listen” to podcasts on my way to and from work but can’t even remember what they were about the following day. I forget to listen to my husband when he speaks. I lose track of what people are saying when I interview them. We all do these things, though some of us are worse than others. I don’t think I’m actually that bad, but I’m not the best. I could be better. We all could.

Here’s the thing about listening: it is crucial to your career success. We know that “people skills” are for employers by far the most desired attributes in potential hires, and that listening is one of the most important people skills. We also know that “active listening” was listed as a critical skill for 9 out of 10 of the most in-demand jobs in a recent report. You must have listening skills.

If I were talking, you’d have tuned out already wouldn’t you?

We are losing our ability to listen, according to sound consultant Julian Treasure, who says we spend roughly 60% of our communication time listening but that we retain just 25% of what we hear. He says in a Ted talk that this is happening for several reasons, among them the noise levels to which we’re constantly subjected, the way information is expected to be presented in sound-bytes, and the rise of recording technology (I, for example, often find myself multi-tasking while interviewing people, and forgetting to pay attention to what they’re saying because I can just listen to the recording later).

“The premium on accurate and careful listening has simply disappeared,” he says.

In that talk Treasure also shares 5 exercises and tools you can use to improve your own conscious listening. These are:

  1. Silence
    “Just three minutes a day of silence is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate so that you can hear the quiet again. If you can’t get silence go for quiet. That’s absolutely fine.”
  2. Something Treasure calls “The mixer”
    If you are in a noisy environment where sound is coming from all directions, listen for how many distinct channels of sounds you can hear. I do this for fun by listening for specific instruments in musical recordings. Symphonies are good.
  3. Something Treasure calls “savouring”
    This means “enjoying mundane sounds.” For an example, he shows how he turns the sound of his clothes dryer into a waltz.
  4. Listening positions
    This is “the idea that you can move your listening position to what’s appropriate to what you’re listening to.” I had some trouble grasping this one but he means that there are many different “positions” from which we listen: active, passive, expansive, reductive, judgmental. Treasure suggests playing with these “positions.” More on that here and in the Ted talk posted below.
  5. RASA
    It’s apparently the Sanskrit word for “juice” or “essence,” and an acronym for Receive (take in what you’re hearing),Appreciate (make listening noises like mmm hmmm), Summarize (recap with “so…”), Ask (ask questions).

Treasure says he believes that “every human being needs to listen consciously in order to live fully.” That’s a beautiful thought. And it will help you get a job, which is also nice.