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Wanted: Soft Skills for Tech Jobs

Hard skills might get you in the door, but soft skills help high performers shine. Here’s a look at 5 tech jobs and the soft skills necessary for success in each.

Nickey Pietila

AK12ET Blogger

What makes a high performer?
It is a great misconception that a technology company’s talent pool is made of natural born techies and whiz kids. Sure, programming experience, design savvy, or other tech skills might get you in the door, but it’s the soft skills that can elevate you to “high performer” status within a technology company. 

In fact, research through Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Stanford Research Center shows that 85% of job success comes from well-developed soft skills and people skills, compared to the remaining 15% of job success that’s earned through technical skills and knowledge.
Here’s an inside look at the hidden skills that high performers have in common in five different departments of our parent company, Skyward. As you review your curriculum and instructional practices for alignment with the modern workforce, are your students getting enough opportunities to develop the soft skills that are essential for success in these roles?   


1. Consulting & Support

Top Soft Skills:   Communication, Adaptability, Problem Solving 
Customer consulting and support specialists spend their days interacting with customers, so an energetic attitude and strong work ethic are a must. These communication specialists are known for their interpersonal agility, working directly with customers via email, phone calls, WebEx, live chat, and onsite visits. Customer support specialists have depth and breadth of knowledge, and they can quickly adapt their support to a customer’s existing knowledge base and level of savviness. These clever problem solvers can maintain quick resolution times and high levels of customer satisfaction by providing excellent service.       


2. Project Management

Top Soft Skills:   Reliability, Organization, Communication
A project manager is the single point of contact for districts, starting with the initial implementation. The project manager coordinates tasks like data migration, training, consulting, and software setup. He or she sets the tone for the district’s interactions with the company, and has a big impact on the long-term success of the relationship. A high achieving PM is rock-solid in the areas of reliability, organization, and clarity of communication. Successful project managers tend to have excellent time management and organization skills, superb attention to detail, and the ability to remain professional and personable under pressure.

3. Product Management

Top Soft Skills:   Leadership, Collaboration & Teamwork, Creativity
Product management professionals are the brains behind the innovations. This group leads the development of a product roadmap and cultivates and prioritizes long-term goals. Many groundbreaking product advances come about through this team’s partnerships with end users, and we’ve seen creative product managers turn a simple customer comment or question into the next big innovation. Leadership is key; a product manager or product owner needs to trust his or her own ability to devise and execute the best possible plan for development.

4. Software Engineering

Top Soft Skills: Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration & Teamwork
The stereotype of programmers as quiet and introverted is incomplete at best. In truth, the software engineering department is one of the most collaborative, diverse, and interactive areas of any company. Common methodologies include scrum, a team-based approach to producing a product that requires time management skills, clear communication, and the ability to set goals and priorities. Without open lines of communication and fluid collaboration, it would be difficult for our developers to design and deliver the solutions our customers need. The software engineering department may have some of the most sought after hard skills, but nowhere is it truer that soft skills stand out.


5. Training & Content Management

Top Soft Skills:   Collaboration & Teamwork, Flexibility, Attention to Detail
Training and content management departments design, create, and deliver content that helps our customers and employees work smarter. These professionals work closely in teams of writers, content editors, content architects, and subject matter experts, collaborating to design and create content that is informational and entertaining. Attention to detail is key as this department maintains specific standards of quality. Flexibility is a must since members of these teams are expected to produce several types of content including video, written tutorials, software simulations, and documentation. Team players will thrive in roles that call for the ability to synthesize information from every corner of the company.  

Did you notice a pattern? Across all departments, soft skills keep lines of communication open, enable better collaboration, and ultimately set the stage for the creative solutions that help a company shine.   
Does this mean schools should ditch STEAM classes or a rigorous focus on academics to free up time for developing soft skills? Certainly not. The best way to hone these skills is in an environment that simulates the type of tech-rich, project-based workplace students are preparing to join. To groom the next generation of high-achievers with impressive soft skills, don’t shy away from complex challenges and build in plenty of opportunities for interpersonal interaction. 


Take a virtual tour on Skyward's careers page and see why soft skills aren’t a hard sell in 15 different departments at this tech company.

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