Soft skills are becoming increasingly important for career progression in organizations globally.
In this article we look at why organizations are prioritising candidates who have strong soft skills over more technical abilities and we speak to Prof. Yossi Matias Vice President, Engineering, Head of Google's R&D Center to find out what emphasis global organizations like Google place on soft skills.
Firstly, what are soft skills?
Soft skills are a combination of interpersonal people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes and emotional intelligence among others.
We spoke with Prof. Yossi Matias Vice President, Engineering, Head of Google's R&D Center to find out what emphasis global organizations like Google place on soft skills. Yossi’s story gave us some insights into Google’s thought process:
After a highly impressive career, Prof. Yossi was approached by Google about a new role at its R&D Center. He asked them what they wanted him to do, and Google responded that they expected him to figure that out. Therefore, from the very beginning there was an emphasis on the need to look at everything as openly as possible. It was clear that the best candidates were not necessarily going to be those who finished top of their class, but rather those that displayed initiative and imagination in solving complex and often unexpected problems. Yossi further explained:
“to be successful, at Google, and in industry in general, you need to work well with others. This is vitally important, in addition of course to the importance of your technical skills.”
In the digital economy, to grow as an individual and successfully develop your career, there is an increasing emphasis on the need for the ability to communicate in an International context, for leadership and management skills, to be a team player and to use creativity and innovation to solve problems.
Leadership skills are in-demand in the IT sector as agile working practices become increasingly popular. Agile workplaces require individuals to take greater ownership of the tasks required for successful completion of projects. Directly related to this is your ability to successfully work together with your fellow team members to ensure deadlines are achieved. Historically, organizations spent too much time dealing with internal team conflicts. As a result of this, recruiters are now more focussed on whether the new recruit is a good ‘fit’ within the existing culture of the company.
The ability to work well with others, especially in open and challenging scenarios like those experienced by Prof.Yossi Matias, becomes of key importance. It is also increasingly important to understand different cultures and how they operate in a global context.
Similarly, the ability to look at things differently, and a can-do attitude is valued immensely. Many IT challenges require solutions to problems that have not been solved before. This means there is often no existing solution to refer to. In situations such as these, it becomes important to achieve the initial goal in any way possible, and then consider potential tweaks and improvements afterwards. Ideally these will be the type of challenges that you are excited by, and enjoy finding solutions for.
As Prof. Yossi’s story demonstrated, employers like Google prioritise candidates equipped with the type of soft skills that help to improve company culture and help teams and projects succeed.
Enhance your soft skills with Digital Skills Global
In the second course on our Professional Certificate programs, Agile UX Digital Project, participants are presented with an open-ended challenge in an international, cross-functional team setting. Participants will learn the processes and methodologies needed to address the uncertainty of a high-level digital project brief and to successfully develop a prototype that demonstrates an understanding of user-driven design, user experience, and lean user experience (UX) methodologies.
The course will equip participants with a range of softs skills, including:
Learn more about the Agile UX Digital Project from our Learning Experience Manager, Antonio Palacios.
Hear from graduate Wayne Du Toit, Portfolio Tilt Specialist at Nedbank on how the Agile UX Digital Project has helped advance his career.
If you are looking to advance your career by gaining in-demand soft skills, join a Professional Certificate in Digital Skills.