Technical vs. Interpersonal Skills – Which Is More Important for IT Graduates?
In the IT industry, having good technical skills and knowledge is definitely important, but it doesn’t always land you a job. Here are some reasons why:
In IT, interpersonal skills are just as important as technical skills. When I was a recruitment consultant looking to hire IT managers, I would often say, “You can teach technical skills, but you can’t teach a person to have a good personality”.
Your personality comes through in the way you demonstrate your interpersonal skills and how you build relationships with people. I once had an IT internship student say to me, “But I am in IT, I don’t need to have interpersonal skills”. That is wrong! IT in many companies is about 70% customer service and 30% technical skills.
In every IT role, you need to have the ability to interact with your colleagues and clients. If you are in networking/helpdesk or a support role you will need to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively, troubleshoot, explain any issues and provide a solution. You may even have to further follow-up the enquiry with other departments in the company; this means communicating effectively across the business.
When recruiting, many companies will ask about your technical skills. As a graduate, you may not have a lot of industry-related experience, but there would have been times you demonstrated your technical abilities during a project or an assignment. You could even use instances where you helped friends set up computers or created your own personal website as examples to showcase your abilities.
Always remember to mention exactly what you did, what coding you completed, and what systems and software you used; don’t forget to incorporate your interpersonal skills with your answers. For example, if you are talking about a group project, instead of just focusing on your technical skills, talk about how you communicated your tasks to the team, what ideas you brought to the project and how you dealt with any objections other team members may have had.
For graduates, it is also really important to utilise your customer service and part-time experience to demonstrate your interpersonal skills. In Australia, having local experience and strong interpersonal skills is highly desirable, so make an effort to gain them, and don’t forget to list them in your resume!