Soft skills


Consider this your mid-week motivation—here we’ll be sharing a new smarter secret from our authors, the people who you learn from and who inspire you to push the limits of your potential. So, we asked: What are soft skills you never thought you would need in your career, but actually do?

Business acumen

Two words:  Business acumen. Gone are the days when "the IT person" can merely be a technologist that fixes computers.  Today's world requires technology folks that understand the business in which they work, along with the decisions that drive that business' – and thus, their employer's – everyday decision making.  The good part is that you can usually spot the right people.  They're the ones who bring solutions to the table, and not just technologies.  They're also the ones that seamlessly translate "what the systems need" to "what the business needs" as they report on their everyday activities. —Greg Shields

Sales skills

I never thought I’d need sales skills. But I now realize that as technologists, we’re all in sales. We’re not necessarily selling products though—we’re selling ideas.  Every day we have to sell our vision, our priorities and our suggestions to our employer and peers. I highly recommend Dan Pink’s book “To Sell is Human”. As he says, “We’re all in the moving business”. What are we moving? Minds. —Cory House

Learn how to write

In my college, CS majors were required to take a writing class. I remember asking why; I couldn't see the point. I was that young and foolish. —Dan Appleman

Develop teaching skills

I've really had to develop my ability to teach. Software development is a career where you can never stop learning, so teaching is a catalyst for success. Having good teachers in a software development team makes a big difference in preventing stagnation, improving quality and delivering value efficiently. —Floyd May

Practice self-awareness

It is extremely difficult to humbly admit a shortcoming instead of making up a tale to lessen the blow. My personal example would include: realizing that I've wasted time/hours checking my social media, can I learn from that error? Can I admit to myself, “I messed up. Time to get to work.” Or will I just blame writer’s block or some bogus excuse?—Dale Meredith

Communication skills are more important than you think

In college, I was focused on learning as much I could about anything and everything but I never thought of learning how to communicate properly. It turned out that communication skills were the most important of all the skills I learned. If I were to redo my education I'd start with a degree in communication! I am now aware of bad communication and its unexpected consequences and I don’t take action until I clear up any information that I receive from those around me. I believe the best interview screening process is the one that focuses on measuring the candidate’s communication skills first. —Samer Buna

Be prepared to teach in any situation

Teaching and presenting—I never expected to end up teaching as much as I do. Mostly not formal classes, but informal chats with colleagues or clients.—Gail Shaw

Learn how to express gratitude

Building trust through knowledge and the importance of expressing gratitude are so important. Clients will trust someone who has the knowledge and real-life experience to back it up. Gratitude is the attitude! You'll get back what positive feedback and energy you put out in the world, and maybe even make someone's day! —Megan Young

Become an expert at talking to anyone

Just talking to people. If you have a great rapport with people and show interest in them, you will get a lot more out of the relationship. Practice on people in elevators or coffee queues to see how quickly most people open up. After all, most peoples' favourite topic is themselves. —Lars Klint

So, what's your secret to being smarter?

Share it with us: #SmarterThanYesterday




Pluralsight is the technology skills platform. We enable individuals and teams to grow their skills, accelerate their careers and create the future.