Employers in the Market for IT Graduates; Express Concern About Interpersonal Skills

Posted July 29, 2013 by

If you are a recent IT graduate, then employers are looking to hire you for entry level jobs.  In addition to what you have learned, however, be sure to bring your interpersonal skills.

School may be out, but IT hiring is in session for more than one in three firms. Thirty-five percent of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed said they plan to hire new IT graduates in 2013, according to a recent poll by Robert Half Technology.

But not all CIOs polled give new graduates high marks when it comes to being ready for their first job. More than one in four respondents (26 percent) said entry-level professionals aren’t prepared to contribute right away. Among these executives, more than half (55 percent) said the reason is a lack of skills in areas such as communication and leadership.

CIOs were asked, “Does your organization plan to hire any new IT graduates this year?” Their responses:

Yes – 35%

No – 63%

Don’t know –2%

Total – 100%

CIOs also were asked, “In general, how prepared do you think new IT graduates are to start contributing as soon as they start a new job?” Their responses:

Prepared – 69%

Unprepared – 26%

Don’t know – 5%

Total – 100%

CIOs who didn’t think IT graduates were prepared to contribute right away were asked, “Which single skill or attribute do you feel new graduates most lack?” Their responses:

Personal skills (communication, leadership skills) – 55%

Technical skills –  29%

Business skills (job-related experience, teamwork skills) – 17%

Other – 1%

Total – 102%*

*Numbers do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

John Reed

John Reed, Senior Executive Director of Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group

“IT hiring managers are seeking candidates who not only possess technical abilities, but can also meet deadlines and work well with customers and colleagues,” said Robert Half Technology’s senior executive director, John Reed. “New IT graduates can distinguish themselves in the job market by demonstrating business acumen and solid interpersonal skills.”

Reed added that students and recent graduates can hone some of those sought-after soft skills by finding an internship or volunteering at nonprofit organizations, where they can interact with colleagues in a professional environment on a regular basis.

The following are four focus areas for recent IT grads looking to build their nontechnical skills:

1.       Communication. It may seem a given that you need to speak and write clearly, but some IT pros fail in this area. Avoid using jargon or technical concepts that are obvious to you but might be unclear or unfamiliar to others.

2.       Conflict resolution. Disagreements occur in every office. Learning how to calmly sort out issues and find acceptable compromises will aid you throughout your career.

3.       Teamwork. Is a coworker working on a major initiative and everything must be completed by next week? Offer to help out if you’re not overloaded yourself. The way to win support is by giving support when it’s needed.

4.       Diplomacy. Always maintain a professional tone when communicating with others.  This means never corresponding when you’re angry or frustrated – you could regret it later.


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