Being skilled at computers and troubleshooting is an essential part of working in IT, but if you plan on truly excelling in the field, it's vital to have a combination of hard and soft skills.
Here are seven soft skills every IT professional should have.
It's sort of a no-brainer, but when you're responsible for helping employees with computer, network, software, or website issues all day, it's crucial that you know how to resolve issues. That means being able to both discover problems and develop solutions quickly. But problem solving isn't just about being reactive. It's important to be proactive, too. For example, if an IT team notices security gaps at their company, they should develop security procedures or upgrades to prevent the company from being at risk to hackers, as opposed to waiting until the company gets hacked to take action.
Working in the IT field requires constant human interaction. Whether you're troubleshooting computer issues or managing a team, it's important to know how to interact and communicate well with others at all levels of the organization. You'll need to become solid at explaining issues, walking people through solutions, and delegating tasks to your team efficiently.
Ability to translate industry jargon
While working in the technology field you'll quickly pick up a language that applies only to the work that you do — one that, unfortunately, those outside of your field won't understand. That's why it's really important for IT professionals to become skilled at explaining complex issues to people who have little to no knowledge of the IT field. If an employee's computer is lagging because he doesn't have enough RAM, or you've discovered RATs on an executive's computer, you'll have to translate the problem into layman's terms if you expect anyone to understand.
Working on a team
To have a successful career in IT you have to work well with others, period. Sure, there will be instances where you're solely responsible for certain tasks or projects, but for the most part IT teams work closely to complete large tasks. As a member of an IT department you need to know how to listen to others, take criticism and direction well, and carry your own weight to get things done correctly and in a timely manner.
Think presentations are reserved for business professionals? Think again. Working in IT requires you to be comfortable with speaking to large groups of people. Whether you're presenting your team's accomplishments to higher ups, explaining something new to your department, or leading a training session, presentation skills are vital to getting your message across to others. Not only is it important for IT professionals to know how to present, but often times they are tasked with helping other departments present as well. As an IT professional you can expect to be on standby to contribute for important meetings and presentations to ensure they go off without a hitch.
Customer service know-how
A career in IT requires you to help people on a regular basis, which is why it's important to have great customer service skills. This often requires keeping a positive attitude while addressing problems (no matter how ridiculous they may be), being a good listener, and showing empathy. You'll also need to be able to defuse heated situations that can arise among frustrated employees or staff.
A large part of an IT professional's day often involves explaining complex ideas to others, training newbies, and assisting technology illiterate employees — things that require a great deal of patience. If you're capable of staying calm in frustrating situations or can handle answering the same questions over and over again, you'll have no problem succeeding in the IT field.