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5 soft skills for tech jobs

While hard skills matter for tech jobs, soft skills are equally essential in helping tech professionals produce their best work.
Written by Matthew Sweeney, Contributing Writer
a smartly dressed middle-aged man discussing his idea with a fellow male colleague in an office, surrounded by work papers and other reading material
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You probably already know you'll need to learn coding to work in tech. But did you know how you'll also need soft skills for tech jobs?

 Soft skills, also called people skills, enable workers to effectively and harmoniously work with others. Essential soft skills for tech jobs include teamwork, adaptability, and communication.

Read on to learn what soft skills are vital to creating a successful career in tech, and which careers they matter in most.

Why are people skills important in tech roles?

Soft skills are an invaluable part of any tech career.

Good data and quality work in tech workplaces arise from team members possessing soft skills such as leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence that bring out each other's best.

Other more abstract soft skills, such as adaptability, self-motivation, and critical thinking, help tech workers stay on top of their blind spots as human beings and use the available tools effectively.

5 people skills for tech jobs

The following are among the most important soft skills for tech careers. Each skill can help you better work collaboratively, use your intellectual and creative strengths, and maintain mental discipline.

Computer science degrees and other tech-related college programs teach these skills alongside hard skills. But you don't have to go back to college — you can cultivate these soft skills on your own time.

1. Adaptability

Late-career tech professionals will attest that your ability to learn is more important than mastery of specific computer programming languages, software, or platforms. 

Most tech jobs do not expect you to know everything. Instead, they want you to show learning agility, or the ability to pick up new skills quickly. Adaptability ensures that you can navigate novel problems effectively and innovate.

You can increase your learning agility and become more adaptable by maintaining a lifelong commitment to learning in your downtime. Consume tech podcasts and news and pick up new skills for fun. You never know when they might become useful.

2. Collaboration

Tech workplaces thrive on a spirit of teamwork. The ability to brainstorm collectively, share ideas, and offer encouragement makes large-scale projects more attainable. 

Collaboration is an especially important skill in software engineering or game development workplaces, where many moving parts and teams come into play.

You can improve your collaboration skills by challenging yourself to work together on projects with the people in your personal life. 

Remember the importance of listening to and respecting other people's contributions. Your teammates can help create something more than the sum of its parts.

3. Communication

Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential in tech. 

Though tech professionals work with computer systems and software, they still need to communicate their ideas and recommendations in a way their audience can understand.

Data scientists, for instance, may need to communicate their findings to marketing and management personnel. 

You can work on your written and verbal communication skills by attending workshops or night classes. Some agencies in your city may even offer classes for improving communication skills. Read more often and brush up on your grammar. Self-edit to avoid typos and improve your confidence.

4. Leadership

Leadership is a crucial soft skill for tech career advancement. Senior engineers, developers, and managers need to be good leaders. 

Large-scale tech projects, such as game development, need a guiding force to succeed. A software engineer might direct the work of a team of computer programmers and lower-ranking software developers, spearheading a creative vision.

Try developing your leadership skills by speaking up more frequently in meetings — when appropriate, of course — and trying to see the big picture behind your company's decisions. 

Challenge yourself to try difficult projects that require flexing your creative muscles. You can also take business classes in leadership at your local college or earn a certificate or master's in organizational leadership.

5. Self-motivation

IT, web development, web design positions, and other tech jobs are frequently fully remote. 

These roles allow tech professionals to enjoy the freedom of working from home. Too much freedom creates the potential to fall behind. You'll need self-motivation to stay on track and meet your deadlines.

Working on self-motivation skills can take the form of making and completing a daily task list. If you push yourself to stay accountable for finishing projects or remembering everyday tasks, you can develop a better ability to consistently self-motivate.

Check out our favorite productivity apps and time-management strategies for extra help.

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