3 Soft Skills Essential for Advancement in Federal IT Careers
1. Federal IT professionals need to be effective at collaboration
Whether it’s teamwork, listening to others, or networking, 66% of respondents rank collaboration as the top soft skill needed to take advantage of future growth opportunities. Collaboration is also one of the most important skills recruiters look for in new hires.
To hone this skill, try your hand at project management, one of the most critical soft skills needed to manage today’s modern IT environments. Project managers regularly check in with team members, gather feedback, coordinate meetings, help escalate issues, provide feedback, and act as the liaison between IT and the business.
IT teams should consider working with staff and internal communications teams to implement awareness of IT initiatives at all levels of the organization, particularly goals and potential outcomes for the entire agency .
This is corroborated by SolarWinds “Building a Secure Future” Reportwhich revealed that technology professionals are increasingly taking advantage of opportunities to foster better alignment and collaboration with senior leaders on priorities such as managing and mitigating cybersecurity risks (53% cite cyber threats as the biggest challenge they expect to face next year).
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2. Innovative or creative problem solving is key
Another “human” skill to hone is problem solving. Nearly half of tech professionals (48%) agree this is a priority in IT.
It is not a surprise. As all federal employees know, change is constant. Critical thinking skills are essential to keep pace with this change. Whether it’s due to budget issues, technological advances, administrative changes, or all three, you need to be prepared to adapt. This means quickly identifying problems, researching solutions, performing objective analysis, drawing conclusions and making informed decisions.
Problem solving comes with experience – often outside of the workplace. In fact, respondents agreed that this skill is acquired through life lessons learned at home or in everyday life.
3. Clear communication is a must in government IT
Communication is the final piece of the human skill puzzle, and it is closely tied to collaboration. When a project is initiated, you need to communicate the goals, strategy, plans, timelines, and ongoing maintenance of the project to the organization’s stakeholders, regardless of their technical knowledge.
Along the same lines, you also need to justify technology investments and operational decisions to agency executives. To overcome budget constraints and shifting priorities, your best course of action is to become an educator. Invest time in ongoing training and regular communication with management and find ways to demonstrate the close correlation between IT success and mission success.
For example, it is not enough to announce the deployment of a new HR automation tool. Instead, focus on communicating the criticality of the project, who it will affect, and how it will advance the agency’s mission. The ability to communicate how technology projects can save money is also desirable.
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Keep pace with evolving federal technology
As technology evolves, IT roles will continue to evolve. As a federal IT pro, you too need to evolve. Technical skills aren’t the only skills you need to succeed.
Soft skills can help you earn a seat at the table to set the agenda, justify IT investments, gain buy-in from your peers, and advance your career.
In addition to the tips above, find a mentor – someone on the team who can help you learn – and keep practicing. You don’t have to be an expert, but adopting a “setting up IT” mindset and setting goals to get there will lead to more opportunities, greater responsibility, and a role. leader in the digital transformation of your agency.