What are the soft skills tech companies need to look for?

Marianne Slotboom
Dec 16, 2021

We can agree that the right talent is necessary to make your team to a success. Talent acquisition has become one of the most important activities for HR and leaders. And let’s be honest, architects who can’t architect or developers who don’t develop are a fast road to failure.

But is it enough? No!

We already know from Google’s Aristotle project that once you have hired the best talent, what really matters to become a high performance team is how people treat each other.

At the end soft skills aren’t that soft, neither are they optional or “nice to have”. They are an essential difference between successful and less successful organizations!

What are important soft skills to look for when hiring?

Several investigations (e.g. HBR, Gallup, McKinsey) let us know that these (below) are the most important soft skills to look for as it comes to tech companies and ensuring team success. Make them part of your interviews with job candidates!

Self Control — Once you’ve decided that something is important, are you able to persist in doing it, without letting distractions or bad habits get in the way? Self control means doing things for the long run that you might not feel like doing in the short run.

Effective Communication – The ability to apply constructive communication patterns will contribute to high performance and happiness. In the interview ask candidates to do some storytelling and go through the highlights of their career progression. How well are they talking about a subject they know well?

Translate tech jargon – The ability o convert tech jargon into language that everyone in your organization understands is highly important for fluent communication and engagement.

A collaborative mindset – Teams are distributed and additionally, many people work remotely. Collaboration takes extra effort when coworkers are spread out. It’s vital that they make the effort to communicate with their team members and support them.

Empathy – Employees need the skills to manage expectations, collaborate with stakeholders with different views, handle diversity within the team. While this has traditionally been thought of as skills for the UX team, engineers increase their value when they bring empathy to the table.

Soft skills in Tech companies

Putting things in context – It is important that technical and nontechnical employees alike understand the context in which their teams work. Leaders have to understand the individuals on those different teams, their challenges and motivators.

Asking the right questions – Understanding how to translate business ideas into technical design and being able to discuss this with all kind of people needs as a basic condition: the ability to ask the right questions.

Problem solving – There are always unexpected challenges and the employees who are able to create tools and processes to efficiently resolve those issues are of a high value in your organization.

Adaptability – With the speed at which technology evolves, perhaps the most valuable soft skill a professional can exhibit is adaptability. Most tech organizations move relatively fast and pivot on a moment’s notice, change is essential. Who can comfortably take on challenges as they occur will excel. Can the candidate move forward or backward without angst or resentment?

Set aside ego’s – The ability to put aside personal preferences and work the process a key skill to building and sustaining a culture of teamwork. It’s relatively easy to determine which candidates believe they know all the answers, and which realize they can never have all he answers.

Comfort with uncertainty – Along with constructive collaboration, comfort with ambiguity is considered a critically important need in tech companies. Knowing your workforce and empowering them to learn by bringing the learning to where they are.. will be critical for future success.

Based on a recent articles by: Paul Heltzel.

Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

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