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Skills every IT professional MUST have
Kshipra Singh
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February 19, 2008

A career in the field of information technology (IT) is one of the most sought these days. Most engineering college graduates land up in the IT industry. While, a job as a software engineer looks very lucrative at first glance, once you get into the industry, you realise that it is not just your technical skills that will keep you in the race.

You need something more to ensure that you are able to do a good job. In other words, you need some extra skills to ensure that you are able to keep the job after you land it. These extra skills are called 'soft skills'.

 What are the advantages of soft skills?
Your soft skills or people skills decide how fast and well you climb the ladder of success. Here are some of the advantages that your soft skills can reap for you:

~ They help you grow in your career
~ They give you an eye to identify and create opportunities
~ They help develop relationships with your colleagues and clients
~ They develop good communication and leadership qualities in you
~ They help you think beyond dollars.

After reading the advantages your soft skills can get you, you would want to know what is it that you need as a technical person to grow as a professional and climb the ladder of success.  

Here are some soft skills which will help you grow not just as a professional but also as a person: 

~ A never-say-die attitude
Any task that comes to you or your team, undertake with a can-do attitude. Slowly you will observe that you and your team have become the favourite of the management. Every accomplished task boosts your self confidence and pushes you one step closer to success.

~ Communication
This includes verbal, non-verbal and written communication. Be sure that you are able to put across your point clearly and confidently. As an IT professional you will need to work with colleagues and clients of various nationalities and backgrounds. Ensure that you are able communicate clearly with them. This applies to teleconferencing as well.

~ Learn to listen
Listening is an essential part of communication. Ensure that you listen attentively. This will help make the other party feel comfortable while interacting with you and improve your communications.

~ Be a team player
Help your team members help themselves. Be friendly and approachable. If your team is stuck somewhere look out for ideas to overcome the obstacle together.

~ Learn to delegate
Chances are you will have junior members on the team. Recognise their strengths and delegate them the right work. 

~ Give credit to those who deserve it
Do not all the credit for a job well done. Pass on praise or recognition from superiors to team members who deserve it. Doing it publicly or in front of your boss will further instill a feeling of confidence among your team.

 ~ Motivate yourself and others
As you look ahead to grow in your career you will need to deal with various people under you. You can not expect quality results from a team whose motivational level is too low. So, stay motivated and keep others motivated.

~ Develop leadership qualities
A leader is a person whom people are ready to follow. Develop qualities that will make people follow you not because they are required to but because they want to. Even while operating in a team, take a role to lead and facilitate the work for other members.

~ Control your sense of humour
When you are working with people from various cultures you need to be extra careful with your sense of humour and gestures. Behaviour that is acceptable among Indian colleagues might be considered obscene or disrespectful by people from other cultures. Stay away from controversial topics or ideas in the office.

~ Mentoring
This is a quality one needs to develop in order to grow. If you want to grow in the hierarchy, you need to help sub-ordinates grow. Be a good mentor. Help them understand things better. This not only improves the work environment but also improves your work relationships.

~ Handling criticism
When you are working with people, at times you will be criticised while at others you will be required to criticise your colleagues or sub-ordinates. Ensure that you take the criticism constructively and look at it as an opportunity to grow. Similarly, while criticising others shoose your words carefully and keep it professional. Destructive criticism will lead to loss of respect and trust. Let your criticism help the other person grow.

~ IT-preneur- Like an entrepreneur, have a risk-taking attitude. Learn to take responsibility for failures and pride in a job well done.

~ Managing spoil sports
While working in a team there will always be one or two people with a negative attitude. This attitude can be contagious. Employ tactics to deal with such people and improve motivation.

Keep an eye on your e-mails for proper language. Open up the e-mail with a suitable address and end with a thanking note. Your words should convey the correct meaning and invoke the desired action.

~ Multitasking
As you climb the ladder of success, you will need to handle work from various fields. For example, you will have to interact with your technical team on project success, with the HR department for team appraisal and recruitment, with clients on project requirements or problems etc. Organise and plan to fit in all the required activities into your schedule.

Once you have developed these soft skills along with your technical skills you will find that you are a lot more confident about your capabilities.

The author is a contributor to, a website that addresses technical and personal aspects of an IT interview.

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