Which IT attributes and soft skills should you be looking for when recruiting IT professionals?
Two-thirds of UK employers are concerned that they won’t find enough highly skilled staff to support them, according to the latest annual CBI survey. IT resourcing specialists Experis say that one in four UK firms are now looking overseas to recruit the talent they need.
The specialist knowledge in demand today could be redundant in five years’ time which means you need to find someone with the right attitude and soft skills to grow and develop with your business. So what are the ideal IT attributes you should be looking for when recruiting?
1. Confident with communication
Your IT professional has to communicate with different teams, suppliers, partners and even clients. They must be able to talk to people at all levels from the boardroom to the shop floor, delivering information at the right level and in plain English. Listening is a vital skill too. By asking the right questions and listening to the answers, they are more likely to get to the bottom of problems and issues, as well as meet business requirements.
Today’s IT professionals often work in cross-functional teams, with people from finance, marketing, operations and HR, to deliver projects. They can help break down silos between different departments and assist all areas of the business to work more efficiently. They must be able to understand varying needs, provide solutions and support different teams in using technology.
A capable IT professional makes decisions based on sound data analysis and proactively measures and reports on systems to identify improvements and potential problems.
4. Methodical and organised
So much of IT work revolves around planned projects and unplanned events, so your talented IT professional must be able to manage time and workload effectively. A healthy respect for deadlines and proper documentation will help them find the right balance between firefighting and proactive improvements. When planning, they must anticipate where problems are likely to occur and plan for them.
Your IT team is entrusted with sensitive information, from customer data to employee records. They must respect the boundaries of confidentiality and demonstrate exemplary behaviour in all aspects of data security.
6. Always learning
Much of the knowledge that IT staff have now will be out of date in just a few years’ time, so you need someone committed to lifelong learning to stay ahead of the game. They should be self-aware, confident in their expertise but able to recognise their limits. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help or admit they need to develop their knowledge further. Ideally, they will seek out new training opportunities to keep their skills sharp and benchmark themselves against recognised qualifications. Once they have acquired knowledge, they should actively share it with colleagues.
From dealing with detailed technical issues to keeping an eye on new technologies and how they can help the business, a skilled IT professional will have to adapt to many different situations. Core hours will not apply and if a business-critical system is broken, your team need the commitment and flexibility to stay and fix it.
8. Excited by technology
They will follow thought leaders and innovators to keep up with the latest trends, developments and technologies. They should be an enthusiastic ambassador for IT and positive about its impact on the business.
IT is critical to every part of business operations, so your IT professional needs to understand that technical problems are really business problems. A perceptive understanding of the inter-dependencies between different systems and departments is essential, and they should find solutions that help the whole organisation meet its business goals.
10. A good cultural fit
Cultural fit means that the values and cultural norms of your IT professional should be compatible with those of your organisation. If your employee is a good fit, they are more likely to enjoy their work, perform well and be more committed to your business, creating a harmonious working relationship for both parties.
The pace of technology change is showing no sign of slowing down. So while it’s important for IT professionals to have a good working knowledge of leading technologies and the systems your organisation uses, it is their personal attributes and skills that will be just as important to you and your business in the future.
- Technology changes fast, so it’s not enough to recruit knowledge, you need to recruit the skills and attributes to cope in the future.
- While technology underpins the role of an IT professional, much of their job focuses on people. They need to communicate, understand and work with different teams to make sure technology is supporting efficiency and productivity across the business.
- Technology problems are business problems and your IT professional need to fix immediate issues within the context of your long-term business goals.