Five soft skills to take your tech career to the next level

Soft skills illustration


In this piece, Deb Ashton, senior VP, strategic customer experience, FinancialForce gives us five soft skills individuals working in the tech industry require to progress in their careers.


Many roles in tech require specific and expert knowledge in a certain subject area, along with specialised technical skills which allow the individual to perform their vital job functions.

However, in conjunction with these hard skills, it is equally important to have soft skills. These are attributes which allow people to interact well and effectively with other people – hence why they are viewed as being the “people skills” that members of staff bring to the workplace. For the majority of the time employees spend working, this will mostly be in a team setting. This is even the case with roles which may appear siloed, such as computer programmers. While these individuals often work alone, they are required to work as part of a team to achieve certain goals. Tech firms are beginning to come to the realisation that their employees require both soft and hard skills in order to thrive in the world of technology. 

Deb Ashton is Senior Vice President of Strategic Customer Experience and a Founder of FinancialForce.

Deb Ashton is Senior Vice President of Strategic Customer Experience and a Founder of FinancialForce. Deb has been instrumental in the growth and ongoing success of the FinancialForce business. In her current role, Deb’s mission is to work with our customers to understand their journey, ensure they maximise the value they derive from our solutions, and enhance the overall customer experience.

As an ERP expert with over 25 years of experience, Deb has worked on some of the industries’ leading ERP platforms. From the inception of FinancialForce, Deb has been in senior leadership positions including product strategy and development, global support, and customer success.

Prior to her involvement with FinancialForce, Deb led the international product teams at Coda following an acquisition by SciSys and later UNIT4. Deb held leadership positions in product management and engineering, as well as presales and account management. She has a degree in Applied Biology from Sheffield Hallam University.


There are several soft skills that individuals require in order to succeed in the tech industry. Firstly, for tech professionals to flourish, they must be able to communicate with more than just the device they’re operating. Individuals must also be able to communicate with team members and others within the firm – both in verbal and written form. For example, if you are a tech expert but happen to be a poor communicator, then you won’t bring as many benefits to your organisation as an employee who is an expert in addition to being an excellent communicator. In fact, according to a recent study by Haiilo, three in four employees see effective communication as the number one leadership attribute – yet less than one in three members of staff feel like their leaders actually communicate effectively, showing this to be an unmet soft skill. This demonstrates that there is an opportunity available to leaders to improve their communication skills, which will help them to stand out from the crowd and make a name for themselves.  


While analytical thinking has always been viewed as being a prerequisite for any tech role, these positions now necessitate critical thinking alongside this. Working in the tech industry requires a person to tackle complex problems with clever, progressive ideas. If this doesn’t come naturally to an individual they needn’t worry – anybody can teach themselves to think more critically. Critical thinking encourages tech experts to ponder unique solutions and approach issues with a creative mind. Tech professionals who are strong in this department tend to be more aware of trends and patterns, as well as spot things others did not observe.


Elsewhere, each and every member of staff should have a certain amount of empathy. This allows employees to understand concerns and issues from the perspective of their co-workers. For those tech experts who have aspirations of one day being in a managerial role, or if they would like to mentor junior employees in the future, it is vital to be empathetic towards colleagues. Yet for all staff, empathy is an essential ingredient in creating a company culture that is warm, welcoming and inclusive to everybody — an invaluable consideration as we strive to make tech a more diverse industry.

For instance, if you are a tech leader, it is important to regularly ask yourself the following questions in order to make sure you’re an empathetic leader: Do I listen actively and try to understand my employees’ perspectives? Do I provide enough support and guidance to my employees when they face challenges? Do I celebrate my employees’ successes and show appreciation for their hard work?


Adding to this, all tech professionals should be organised. Strong organisational skills give rise to teams becoming more efficient and productive. Staying organised will allow individuals to manage complex projects and tasks, priortise responsibilities, and effectively communicate with team members. Not to mention, employees will be able to avoid unnecessary stress and potential errors, increasing overall efficiency and productivity. Practical tips for staying organised include creating daily to-do lists, setting clear deadlines, keeping a tidy workspace, and using productivity tools such as calendars and task managers. Additionally, breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones can help individuals to stay focused and motivated. Without this attribute, deadlines can fall through the cracks, tasks can go incomplete, and important details may be missed, while a complete lack of this skill can be detrimental to entire projects.


For an individual to develop their soft skills, it is imperative for them to be receptive when it comes to receiving feedback. Asking for feedback from a manager or co-worker on its own is not enough. A person must be open to receiving constructive criticism, and subsequently acting on this so as to develop their soft skills. While this may make members of staff feel vulnerable, it is undoubtedly one of the fastest ways someone can learn in which areas they need to grow.

What’s more, as the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. Employees can improve their soft skills by working with co-workers in the familiar and comfortable surroundings of the workplace. This could entail role-playing possible work-related scenarios with one another, or going through a presentation with colleagues to help boost confidence ahead of the actual event.

In the tech industry, people have always had the necessary hard skills to do their jobs. However, having this alongside strong soft skills allows someone to stand out from the crowd. It can turn an employee from simply being qualified to do the job into one who has the potential to become a leader and indispensable part of the team.



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