Tim Collins of Stafflink Solutions

Tim Collins explains the importance of soft skills in IT professions

Tim Collins, CEO at Stafflink Solutions recently did an interview with Brian Bloom, staff writer at ComputerWorld Canada, on why IT pros need soft skills.

Tim Collins explains, while it’s true that IT pros are getting jobs, the real question is whether they are getting the best jobs and salaries they can get. It’s soft skills that can really give IT professionals that extra edge. See How to Earn 100K as an IT Programmer.

Video: Why IT Pros Need Soft Skills

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8x8uExM72M

Below is al transcript from the interview:

Brian Bloom:

First of all we have a very low unemployment rate for IT pros. So I guess the first question is, who is anyone to even tell them what kind of skills they should have? I mean clearly they’re getting jobs. Why do they need soft skills? They’re clearly getting jobs in the industry.

Tim Collins:

That’s a good question. One of the key things is that they’re getting jobs, it’s true, but are they getting the best jobs they can get, and are they getting the best salaries that they can get? Some of the things they need to look at are some of the soft skills, because if you’re a technology professional, and you’re a Java programmer, you may be one of the top programmers in the city, but are you getting the most out of your skills? So you have to think about when you’re going to the interview, are you going to be able to express your soft skills as well as your technical skills?

Some of the key soft skills that we see for candidates are showing their adaptability. A good example is last week we had two candidates go for an interview for an Android job, and they changed the spec so they were going to develop on an Apple platform. Midway through the interview the one candidates said, “I’m an Android guy.” Whereas the other candidate said,  “No I’m  really excited about learning about Objective C and about the Apple platform.” The latter person got the job.

Brian Bloom:

One of the issues I’ve heard for IT pros is that the hiring process isn’t just a one-off affair. They don’t just go in and get interviewed by someone that would be their manager, for instance. They have to go through HR first and this person may not know exactly what skills are required. That’s where it comes in, isn’t it, the soft skills?

Tim Collins:

For sure. I mean, it would be a perfect world if they could just walk in and interview with the technical person. That’s why they need to have the soft skills. Normally the HR person or the recruitment person isn’t technical, so they have to be able demonstrate their adapability, their teamwork, how they can listen to the questions to those people to even get to the second stage of the interview.

Brian Bloom:

Now how do you bring out someone’s inner personality? If you want to give someone personality who maybe just isn’t a very exciting person, that is a little bit introverted, is a little bit in their own world, and interested in their own technical specialty. How do you kind of bring that out of them to allow them to market themselves and to express the skills they do have?

Tim Collins:

One of the questions that we put forward to candidates like that is, talk about your biggest accomplishment. We try to ask them open ended questions or tell us about a challenge that you had in your last position and how you overcame that challenge. So you give them an open ended question about technology and you see their eyes light up. They get really excited to talk about that.

Another thing is to get them to tape themselves doing a mock interview using webcams on a laptop, so that they can see themselves and they can see if they are really monotone and they talk really quietly the whole time. Get them to get some energy, to use their hands a little bit; excited about what they’re talking about. It can differentiate whether they get the job or not.

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