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The Skill IT Professionals Are Lacking

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Information technology (IT) workers are in high demand, but they may want to work on their people skills, new research suggests.

A recent survey of chief information officers (CIOs) found that IT workers lack interpersonal and social skills, in areas like communication and leadership. More than half of the CIOs surveyed said new IT workers lacked those skills, nearly 30 percent said new IT workers lack technical skills and 17 percent said IT professionals needed to work on job-related and teamwork skills.

Despite those shortcomings, a majority of respondents said IT workers are prepared and able to start contributing as soon as they are hired. Just 26 percent said IT workers are unprepared in their jobs. Even with those qualifications, though, 63 percent of CIOs said they will not hire new IT workers this year, while 36 percent will be hiring IT workers

"IT hiring managers are seeking candidates who not only possess technical abilities but can also meet deadlines and work well with customers and colleagues," said John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology, which conducted the research. "New IT graduates can distinguish themselves in the job market by demonstrating business acumen and solid interpersonal skills."

Reed said IT workers can improve their odds of landing and staying at a job by focusing on certain skills:

  • Communication: It may seem obvious that you need to speak and write clearly, but some IT pros fail in this area. Avoid using jargon or technical concepts that are obvious to you but might be unclear or unfamiliar to others.
  • Conflict resolution: Disagreements occur in every office. Learning how to calmly sort out issues and find acceptable compromises will aid you throughout your career.
  • Teamwork: Is a co-worker under a tight deadline for a major initiative? If you have the time, offer to help. The way to win support is by giving support when it's needed.
  • Diplomacy: Always maintain a professional tone when communicating with others. This means never corresponding when you're angry or frustrated – you could regret it later.

The research was based on the responses of more than 2,300 CIOs from companies with 100 or more employees from across the United States.

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