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Soft skills hiring managers are telling us they look for in great networking and systems professionals

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New technologies and frameworks come out every year those who don’t update their skills could find themselves less competitive in the marketplace. However, technical skills aren’t the only aspect hiring managers look for in IT professionals.

In fact, LinkedIn’s Talent Trends Study found that 91% of companies state they have issues with current and new employees lacking adequate soft skills.

In my 30+ years in IT recruiting, I have noticed the increased importance hiring mangers are placing on soft skills in potential IT candidates.

But what are the soft skills hiring managers are looking for in great networking candidates?

1. Communication

In most organizations you work for, network engineers and system administrators need to correspond with clients and/or team members on a daily basis. It is critical for network engineers to actively listen to customers and/or team members to fully understand their problems in order to offer the best solutions. Great communication skills give business leaders peace of mind that the overall business strategy is being supported and will help workflows run smoothly to ensure a more efficient network.

2. Creativity

Creativity is a big part of innovation for companies. The ability to think “outside of the box” (I know that is cliché, but you would be surprised how much it comes up when talking to hiring managers) to come up with unique solutions that are effective and innovative. Companies want people to think of innovative ways to run their networks more reliably and efficiently while improving utilization and quality of services.

Successful companies and people are always looking for continuous improvement and creative ways to increase productivity.

3. Adaptability

The ability to think quickly on your feet, recognize patterns, and offer viable solutions are skills hiring managers look for in interviews.

Being an IT professional, by its nature, means you must be willing to adapt to changing technology. With automation making significant changes in the networking world you must be adaptable with new technologies and approaches to challenges.  

A good question to ask yourself to test your adaptability is “are you one of the first people to challenge the status quo?” Being adaptable will make you a more sought after network engineer to internal business leaders and hiring managers.

4. Teamwork

Your ability to work with other people has never been more important for network professionals. Most network engineers rarely work alone. Hiring managers express to me that they are looking for networking candidates who can work collaboratively with the development teams and can help resolve issues in the development phases before things go into production.

5. Organization skills

Network professionals are always juggling project deadlines which often leaves documentation as an afterthought. Your ability to organize your projects and other workflows is a critical skill employers look for. Planning time for documentation and organizing into your workday is one of the key elements of effective documentation and organization.

Organization really comes down to two key aspects: planning and prioritizing.

6. Emotional intelligence

Network professionals are frequently working with a team to solve various networking issues. When working in a team environment, different opinions on how the project should be run will inevitably arise.

The ability to interact with others with differing opinions in a calm and respectful manner is extremely important. Consequently, emotional intelligence is a skill that hiring managers highly value in candidates that are looking to lead or manage a team.

7. Growth mindset

Having a growth mindset as a network professional might be the most important soft skills employers look for.

The CEO of Kenik, a network analytics company, put it perfectly, “Right now, we’re in a world moving as fast as the ISP world did back in the 90s. Every few weeks there’s something new.” As a network engineer it is essential to have a growth mindset to keep up with the new technologies. You must be updating your skills to stay competitive in today’s market. You can start updating your skills with the article I wrote about the top 5 network engineering skills you need to learn to stay competitive in today’s market.

Make the change!

Network automation is shifting the role of network / system administrators and those who don’t update their skills could find themselves becoming less competitive in the marketplace. However, technical skills aren’t the only aspect hiring managers look for in a network professional. One of my favorite books on this topic is Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jennifer Brauer.

Soft skills are playing an increasing role in hiring managers decisions, especially with the growing use of DevOps.

In fact, LinkedIn’s Talent Trends Study found that 91% of companies state they have issues with current and new people lacking adequate soft skills

In my 30+ years in IT recruiting, I have noticed the increased importance hiring managers are placing on soft skills especially in the infrastructure side of IT.

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