The value of soft skills in a high-tech world

When you think of code school, most likely, the first thing that comes to mind is learning technical coding skills. While technical skills are hugely important and the reason why students seek out our program, we also place a high value on soft skills – the intangible qualities that make good programmers great. Throughout our courses we proactively give students feedback on their interactions and contributions in group projects, their communication skills, and the strengths and weaknesses they’ll carry into their professional work.

Our executive director of the code school, Jessica Mitsch, recently expanded on this topic in her InfoWorld column, Trained for the Future, and shared insights she has gained on the importance of soft skills from working with hiring managers across the country.

Read an excerpt of Jessica’s InfoWorld article, “The value of soft skills in a high-tech world,” below:

A recent study by Glassdoor found that in 2017, 14 of the top 50 jobs in the U.S. are in tech. So it goes without saying that technical skills are in high demand.

But hiring managers say that communication skills are even more important than top tech skills.

In layman’s terms

I recently attended the Federal Data in Action Summit in D.C. where the White House convened the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine personnel management team, along with a group of hiring managers in the data science and technical fields to discuss topics such as data science education, training and hiring. During a panel where hiring managers, including the CTO of the Environmental Protection Agency, discussed the “Future of Data Science Education and Recruiting,” a clear theme emerged as each panelist spoke about the number one skill they look for in candidates.

The surprise? It’s not data science skills they all seek — it’s communication skills. For data science to be effective, the panelists argued, they need people who can articulate the data in a way that makes it understandable to the rest of us — those who need to apply and use the information.

Communication is critical in technical jobs. As tech becomes increasingly integrated into all aspects of business, but is only understood by a fraction of the workforce, it’s important that technical workers are able to communicate well. They need to be able to understand client and business needs, translate those needs into production, and articulate the results.

I asked Carolyn Wilcox, head of recruiting for The Iron Yard and a senior tech recruiter with 19 years of experience, why it’s so important for technical talent to have strong communication skills. She said, “Ultimately we are hiring technical developers to solve business problems or to meet company goals. Their ability to understand and comprehend the organization’s challenges, then translate those into technical solutions is imperative.”

Continue reading Jessica’s article here

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