CXO

Lack of soft skills holding IT pros back from getting hired, promoted

Communication and collaboration challenges are negatively impacting IT's work, but HR isn't offering more training.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • 67% of HR professionals say they withheld a job offer from a talented IT candidate due to a lack of soft skills. — West Monroe Partners, 2018
  • 43% of full-time employees said soft skills problems negatively impacted their working relationship with IT. — West Monroe Partners, 2018

A lack of soft skills is holding some tech professionals back from getting jobs or advancing in their workplace, according to a West Monroe Partners research report released Tuesday.

According to the report, 98% of HR leaders said that soft skills were important for candidates looking to land a technology job. Further, 67% said they had withheld a job offer from a skilled tech candidate because they had lacked soft skills.

Despite the value of these skills, many companies aren't training their employees to develop them, the report found.

Tech jobs are some of the most in-demand jobs in the world right now, but prospective IT experts won't be able to get by on just raw technical abilities. By working on building their soft skills on their own time, developers and IT could set themselves apart in the job search process.

SEE: How to select the right project management methodologies (Tech Pro Research)

This report should also serve as a wake up call to companies that want to improve the work between their technical and non-technical staff, as they will need training and education in soft skills to improve that collaboration.

Another issue is the lack of technological representation in leadership—39% of firms lack someone with a technology background in their C-suite, the report said. This further hurts potential collaboration between IT and line of business employees.

"Some of today's best leaders come from a technology background, and we need more of them," Kevin McCarty, president and CEO of West Monroe Partners, said in a press release. "To remain on the forefront of innovation, companies need to put their technologists in a position to lead. They also must prioritize soft skills and leadership training as part of continued growth and development."

The report defined soft skills as "communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and leadership." However, it also noted that verbal communication and collaboration were the most important soft skills for tech job candidates, while leadership was the least important. Lack of soft skills could be the cause of productivity, innovation, and growth problems, the report said.

Lack of soft skills also impacts the company as a whole. Some 43% of employees said that soft skills challenges created problems in their work with IT. Issues with collaboration were also responsible for delaying projects for 71% of those surveyed, the report said. One-third of respondents said they had missed a deadline due to communication errors.

"Technologists and full-time employees are collaborating more than ever, and it's evident this will continue in the coming years," Greg Layok, senior director of West Monroe's technology practice, said in the release. "However, communication barriers can still silo these groups and stifle productivity. Businesses must take a two-pronged approach to training - one that not only develops technologists' soft skills to effectively collaborate with the line of business, but also teaches business leaders a level of fluency to understand the technology side."

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IT professional promotion
Image: iStockphoto/Jirsak

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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