College technology majors! When you accept your diploma and take that next step forward as a graduate, will you be confident that not only do you possess the core proficiencies you learned in school, but will you also proudly display the intangible business skills your potential employers will expect?
To stay competitive in today’s digital world, business leaders report that they will enlist a holistic mindset when hiring technologists’ skill sets. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report published in 2018, the call for soft skills will increase 26 percent by 2030. Moreover, Job Outlook Survey (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2020) found that the top essential competencies for new technology hires include:
3) Professional/Work Ethic
4) Oral/Written Communication Competencies
“Most tech grads are coming into the workforce well prepared with all of the technical skills companies are looking for, but these firms expect that,” explained Robin Diana, Training Specialist, Talent Management, LED FastStart. “The students that were inspired to take business skills and communication courses or workshops at their colleges are going to be the top-notch candidates that will rise above the rest of the crop.”
Peter Pappas, Human Resources Business Partner, DXC, New Orleans echoed Diana’s sentiments. He knows firsthand that when hiring an IT specialist, managers look for general certifications such as cloud, Microsoft Azure, etc. as well as additional certifications in a number of other areas. While this technical specialization is great, he seeks technology professionals that also possess soft skills. “When advising college sophomores and juniors, I tell them to take some business-side classes in the areas of presentation, conflict resolution and communication—all of these make a big difference in rounding out a technically proficient employee because at some point they are going to be in client-facing situations,” he stated. “At DXC, our project teams interact directly with the client’s project team almost every day. From a business standpoint, those employees that can work together with the client are valuable because their hours on these projects are billable.”
Ceceille Palmer Malcolm, Scrum Master at DXC in New Orleans adds that having basic business skills can land you the job, but you will be called upon to consistently grow and refine your talents. Although each new employee possess a unique personality, it’s important to talk to people, begin networking and be proactive in how you integrate yourself into an organization. “Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty,” said Palmer Malcolm. “Be open and inquisitive and ask how you can help on a project. Collaboration is a key skill that is required daily and is highly valued by co-workers and managers.”
Palmer Malcolm also recommends identifying someone who can serve as a mentor and soak up both technical knowledge and business skills. “If you’re looking to become a senior professional data scientist, ask one how to get there.”
Tech companies today expect so much more than technical skills. The more you can prepare as an undergraduate with courses and participate in workshops that can help you learn to work in a team sharpen your oral communication abilities and enhance your problem solving, the better you’ll look to prospective employers.
This blog is part of our continued “Campus to Career Blog Series.” Read the earlier posts and learn how to combine the proficiencies you mastered in college with the essential business skills needed to navigate the workplace and so you can learn how to land a high-quality tech job and advance quickly.
And after graduation, don’t forget to use Louisiana Job Connection to find your new career!