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Skills | Skills | Skills

March 18, 2016

In addition to technology skills what other skills are employers looking for?  

 

I came across a research paper written by John E. Bentley, Wachovia Bank in 1999 (http://analytics.ncsu.edu/sesug/2005/SER06_05.PDF ) on the personality traits of a great programmer.  It included a section called Programmer Stereotype which I had to share:  "The stereotypical programmer is a shy young man, either scrawny or overweight, who works by himself in an 8’x8’ cubicle in a bigger room of dozens cubicles, each holding someone just like him. He intensely concentrates on writing cryptic instructions to coax a computer to do what is needed. He can concentrate twelve to sixteen hours at a time and often loses track of time and works through the night to realize what he perceives as an artistic creation. He devotes his evenings, weekends, and summers to work. He subsists on pizza, Twinkies, and Mountain Dew. When  interrupted unexpectedly, the programmer may respond with strings of gibberish—“SET PROC DATA STEP LIBNAME RUN!" He has no social life and any hobbies he may have resemble his work. The programmer breaks away from the computer only to attend Star Trek conventions and maybe watch Monty Python reruns. In some companies he is regarded as an indispensable genius; in others he is tolerated as an eccentric artist. Vital information is stored in his head and his head alone. He is secure in knowing that even though his job is criticallyimportant, few people compete for it. What he doesn’t realize is that few people want it. (McConnell, 1999)"  Of course today this description is laughable but it wasn't written that many years ago and I have to admit that I encountered a few of these true 'geeks' over the course of my technology career!  

 

However, the days when a programmer wearing thick glasses and a pocket protector could code away in a corner undisturbed are long gone.  That same programmer would probably have a difficult time in today's world of agile, scrum and DevOps.      

Here is a list of the in-demand skills that employers are looking for from tech hires: intuition, commitment, creativity, business savvy, presentation skills, communication skills, good time management, team-working and collaboration and leadership!  

 

As you will have noticed - none of the skills on the list relate to technology, yet no one could argue that they arn't excellent attributes.  

 

Technology teams need diversity not only in skills, experience and knowledge.  They also need a balance of different personalities to meet the demands of our rapidly changing technology, business and social worlds.  In situations were the team is not balanced a number of different symptoms can surface - constant stress, poor focus, groupthink, and fighting to name a few.  

 

A diverse and balanced team with a combination of skills and a variety of personality types will substantially increase the chances of overall success.  As for intuition, commitment, creativity, business savvy, presentation skills, communication skills, time management, team-work, collaboration and leadership - well we need them too.  

 

 

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