How to Advance Your Tech Career With Nontechnical Skills

Understanding the value and benefits of soft skills will be critical to tech workers’ advancement in the coming years.

Written by Chrystal Taylor
Published on Dec. 17, 2021
How to Advance Your Tech Career With Nontechnical Skills
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The past two years have stretched IT professionals’ adaptability — almost to its limit.

Whether it's managing a remote workforce or staying up to date on the latest modernization and security measures, IT professionals have had to evolve and pivot to address constant change and keep organizations safe and running smoothly.

The pandemic caused disarray for IT teams across the board, but it also taught them new skills. Entire organizations now have a newfound respect for tech teams, as they’ve seen how critical they are to the business and had a front-row seat to what they accomplished during the shift to remote working.

But as the dust starts to settle, tech pros are now thinking about what’s next for them.

 

The State of the Workforce After 2 Tumultuous Years

Recently, SolarWinds surveyed tech professionals to see how they feel about their daily roles and responsibilities in today’s climate. It also homed in on the skills tech pros have acquired over the past year and what they believe to be the biggest opportunities for future career growth.

The good news is that after a year of unprecedented challenges, tech pros feel a sense of pride in their most recent achievements and are highly motivated to expand their responsibilities and embrace new opportunities for professional growth.

In fact, 41 percent believe this year has proven they’re more capable than they realized. Additionally, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents learned they have leadership skills that will benefit them as they look to higher-level, more cross-functional responsibilities and roles in the future.

Get More Career Development Advice From Tech ProsThe Secret to Success in Tech? Don’t Panic.

 

The Power of Nontechnical Skills

For the first time, we’re starting to see tech pros agree that a balance between nontechnical skills and more traditional technical certifications will play a large role in enabling career advancement.

Traditionally, technical skills and professional certifications were a necessary stepping stone for tech pros to reach their next career milestone. However, the professionals we surveyed specifically called out the following soft skills as the most important nontechnical qualities needed to advance in the workplace.

3 Nontechnical Skills Critical to Advancement in Tech

  1. Collaboration: Teamwork, listening to others, networking (66 percent) 
  2. Creative problem-solving (48 percent)
  3. Communication: public speaking, writing (46 percent)

Understanding the value and benefits these nontechnical skills can bring to a tech pro’s role will be critical in the coming years. Collaboration, communication and problem-solving are key attributes of project managers and other leadership roles. Without spending time improving these nontechnical skills, tech pros won’t be able to become part of the decision-making process, which 34 percent of respondents say is their biggest opportunity at work in the next year.

Likewise, these skills can also help foster relationships with management teams, customers and teammates — which can be the building blocks for success within business.

Interestingly, many of these vital nontechnical skills can be gained at home or through hobbies. Whether it’s communicating with peers while working remotely or juggling working from home with our responsibilities and passions, we’re all solving problems or collaborating with others in some fashion.

As tech pros look to what comes next, it’s not just about adapting to the next normal — it’s about revisiting your skill sets and thinking about the hard and soft skills they possess. We’ve reached a pivotal point in the IT realm where both will play an important role in advancing our careers.

These nontechnical skills can be the deciding factor between you and another candidate, so hone them as you would any other skill.

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