Long gone are the days when having a career meant specializing in one specific skill.
And although there is no substitute for solid technical skills if you want a job in a technology oriented career, it is also true that in today’s job market, you are going to need to nail a non-techinical career skills if you want to stand out from the competition. And thrive in your role.
What are non-technical skills?
These are skills that characterize the way we interact with others. It is a kind of catch-all for things like your management skils, your ability to socialize, lead, and communicate with others.
Some of us are just born with better developed non-technical career skills than others. Just as some people are extroverts and instinctively know how to be heard and lead the conversation, while others (and we might be the majority in tech) are prone to be reserved and allow the others do the talking.
Well, no actually.
Because quite apart from the recruitment process where you will need to be able to convey your knowledge, skills, and aptitudes to really obtain success in the workplace. The ability to communicate with others on a day-to-day basis is way more important than you probably think.
Information and Communication Technology
Think about it.
What do engineers do?
When it boils down to it, technologists (regardless of speciality) are essentially problem solvers. But problem solving effectively hinges on understanding and communicating the problems that need to be solved. Irrespective of the high level of tech understanding you might have—if you have an inadequate or underdeveloped ability to listen, speak, or write, then how good will you perform your job in the long term?
Ask any engineer at the top of his or her games and they are likely to tell you the same thing: communication skills are fundamental in technology workplaces.
A recent American Society of Mechanical Engineers survey described skills like business writing, technical writing, public speaking, and presentation preparation as “crucial to success” as an engineer working in today’s increasingly varied and diverse workplace.
So where does that leave you?
The good news is that even if you feel yourself to be lacking as a communicator, there’s actually plenty you can do about it.
Because just like typing, time management, or basic organization, being an effective communicator is a skill that can be developed. We have assembled a few practical hints and tips to help you hone those all-important communication skills.
Six lessons to help you communicate better:
- Understand the difference between hearing and listening. Think about it again. Problem solving means understanding the problem to be solved. And often as not, that means listening – carefully – to what others are telling you.
- Aim for clarity. Whether it is an email, a presentation, or even just a conversation, take the time to gather your thoughts and figure out exactly what it is you need to say – and you need others to understand. Simplify your message whenever possible by being concise.
- Email etiquette. And talking of emails, be careful how you handle them. Email is a great way of keeping connected. It is also a perfect pitfall in terms of misunderstandings. Practical tip? Never send an email if you are unsure, upset, angry, or emotional.
- Body talk. We give off signs and signals with our bodies all the time. Try to tune in to what your body might be saying to someone. And that in turn might mean being mindful of the behavior of those around.
- Observing others. How do other people interact? What is the office “code” – and can you observe it and work within it?
- Speak up. It can be tempting to get into a head-down routine that hinders interaction with others at work. But it is worth making the effort to talk, interchange, have lunch, or connect with those you work with. Even if it feels like hard work, making those connections can make the workplace easier and more enjoyable.
NetAcad Advantage Reading Note: Building your career skills is a step forward in having a successful professional career. Learn more about the essential career skills that employers have told us they are searching for in new hires.