The Importance of Soft Skills in IT Staffing

SkillsThe increasingly competitive market for technology talent means that recruiters involved with IT staffing have to continuously source and recruit skilled candidates. Technology workers make up a highly competitive talent pool, and many businesses’ ability to expand operations by taking on new clients or developing new products and services depends on their ability to source and retain skilled IT employees.

Besides the technical skills required, IT staffing is all about finding candidates with important soft skills. A new study by Robert Half Technology shows that CIOs and those involved with IT staffing that hire new IT graduates and young IT workers have serious concerns about a lack of interpersonal skills such as communication, leadership, and teamwork.

Top Tech Skills IT Staffing Firms Seek

Top technical skills that recruiters doing IT staffing are looking for in 2013 include mobile development, cloud computing, and big data skills. These are some of the hottest tech development areas and some, such as big data and cloud computing, are experiencing real shortages of skilled candidates. This indicates that those tech workers who are willing to continuously update their skills in response to changing technologies will be in demand.

CyberCoder’s list of top 10 tech skills for 2013 includes mobile development (iOS, Android), cloud computing (AWS, Azure), front end development (HTML5, CSS3, Javascript), UX/UI design, big data (Hadoop, MongoDB, NoSQL), C#, Ruby on Rails, Java, PHP, and Linux.
Top Soft Skills

Robert Half Technology’s “Workforce 101” national survey of CIOs challenges with IT Staffing shows that IT workers, especially new IT graduates and younger IT workers, lack some key soft skills needed by employers. 55 percent of the CIOs surveyed said younger IT workers aren’t prepared to fully contribute because of a lack of leadership and communication skills and work experience.

Soft skills lacking in IT candidates include:

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  • Written and verbal communication
  • Ability to lead others
  • Teamwork
  • Job-related experience
  • Passion
  • Flexible work ethic
  • Basic customer service
  • Positive attitude
  • Desire to keep learning

Soft skills are gaining on technical skills in importance in the workplace and in career advancement as those responsible for IT staffing pay more attention to culture fit, employer branding, and candidate and employee engagement. Employers want and need dedicated employees who come to work with more than just a four year degree. They need employees who are willing to go beyond the nine-to-five paycheck mentality and align themselves with the company values and mission and are dedicated to growing the business.

Successful IT workers that companies involved with IT staffing look for are those who are able to be integral to their work teams, are customer service focused, and buy in to the cultures of their companies whatever they may be, from quirky and fun like Zappos! to professional and knowledgeable like Robert Half Technology.

How can newly-minted IT graduates get the soft skills that recruiters doing IT staffing seek? Robert Half Technology’s senior executive director John Reed says they can get the business acumen and solid interpersonal skills that employers seek in internships and volunteer opportunities. He lists nontechnical skills that are important on the job and to employers as written and verbal communication, conflict resolution and problem-solving, teamwork, and diplomacy.

When it comes to finding top IT candidates, recruiters responsible for IT staffing are challenged to look past the technical terms in resumes. They seek out those who are the best communicators, demonstrate passion and leadership, and are able to engage with all levels in their organizations, from co-workers to executives to customers. Innovation, collaboration, communication, and passion are as important, if not more so, as technical skills.

The Challenges of IT Recruiting

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