Upward Mobility in IT: Business Skills for the Technical Professi

Advancements in outsourcing, global commerce and technology indicate that the economic landscape is shifting. In order to change with it, companies are increasingly emphasizing the need for strong business skills — otherwise known as soft skills, management skills or business acumen.

Expert knowledge is a prized possession in the current professional environment. Without it, organizations lack the ability to innovate and compete in the global marketplace. But in today’s business world, deep technical or specialized knowledge is not enough — especially for those moving up the corporate ladder. IT professionals must complement this knowledge with business acumen — or general knowledge of the “rules of engagement” in business — and the ability to apply that knowledge to maneuver through the business environment.

Organizations from nearly all industries are acknowledging that technical prowess — regardless of discipline (IT, project management, science, engineering) — is no longer sufficient. Because business skills positively impact productivity, efficiency and ultimately, the bottom line, executives are changing their standards when hiring new staff. According to Robert Half Technology’s June 2006 Midyear IT Employment Outlook, “41 percent of CIOs polled said they are placing greater emphasis on job candidates’ knowledge of business fundamentals compared to five years ago. Strong communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team also are essential, as IT professionals must work with employees outside their departments and explain their work to management.”

When hiring, executives look at technical qualifications, of course, but now more than ever, jobs are going…


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