Softly Softly – It’s all in the Interface!

Posted on February 14, 2011

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Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual’s interactions versus the more familiar hard skills or education, experience and level of expertise, that tend to be the principle ‘gauges’ in the technology sector.

From experience as an employer and working across a number of organisations I would suggest employers are prioritising candidates with more mature soft skills in ICT recruitment. Candidates who can demonstrate mature soft skills have demonstrated greater job performance potential than those candidates recruited through a prioritisation of more traditional ICT Certification qualifications or hard skills University education.

The recent recession has not help this, with increased pressure n SME (Small Medium Enterprise) balance sheets and cash flow, putting an emphasis on new starts who can hit the ground running, billable and with minimum supervisory friction.

Could this be at the core of why employers during a recession are finding it increasingly difficult to employ graduates according to an article in last month’s British Computing Society (BCS) ‘IT Now’ publications. The article goes on to pose the question whether it should be the employer or candidate who should carry the burden of developing these soft skills. However there is no clear conclusions as the article goes onto promote the good stuff that BCS is doing through its ‘The Graduate’ competition that endeavours to commence addressing this question.

This is not just an IT thing as the insightful book from Chelsea Publishing – “Soft Skills for Lawyers” suggests that Professions soft skills may be more important over the long term than occupational skills.

The advice then for candidates is to build on soft skills in holiday work or gap years, and for curriculum owners to consider new ways of harnessing this dimension in their programs.

But the responsibility ultimately falls on the individual to show the motivation and capacity to develop their own soft skills. For some it’s a self-fulfilling exercise, the motivated, the hungry, they are natural winners in this space. For those who find this more challenging there are no excuses in today’s online world brining the means and the insight to you. Programs such as Microsoft’s ‘Young Britain Works’ a rich resource for those interested in ICT. For those with a more traditional interest ‘The Princes Youth Trust’  and in Scotland ‘The Princes Youth Scottish Business Trust’  all rich and experienced support eco-systems with a commendable track record.

The success of these organisations and initiatives are inextricably linked to the goodwill and involvement of not just the headline entrepreneurs and financial charity of big industry but the quietly successful SME’s that represent the engine room of the UK economy and the mentors for start-ups and trainees alike. I would highly recommend getting involved, your busy day may become a little busier, but by returning some experience back your day will yield a richer vein of satisfaction and accomplishment. No harm in trying, give it a go.

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