With demand for Salesforce skills still far outstripping supply, many hiring managers looking to fill tech roles within their organizations are taking a more flexible approach to sourcing new talent.
With this in mind, we decided to examine at the kinds of soft skills tech leaders are looking for in potential candidates, beyond just a knowledge of Salesforce.
We analyzed data from our latest Careers and Hiring Guide: Salesforce Edition, which includes input from experienced Salesforce professionals and hiring managers for Salesforce positions. We also dove into the 100 most recent Salesforce job adverts, which covered roles across a multitude of industries.
Based on this, we determined the top three soft skills that hiring managers want from candidates for Salesforce roles.
Hold the phone. Do employers really value non-technical skills so highly in candidates for tech roles? You bet.
As the world becomes increasingly digitized, businesses in every industry are searching for people who can help them make the most of their investment in tech platforms. More companies than ever are embracing digital transformation, implementing cloud-based platforms that enable them to work smarter and more efficiently.
What has followed this wave of digital transformation is a boom in even the most typically non-technical organizations looking to add positions like Administrator, Business Analyst, and Developer to their internal teams. The problem is that there aren’t enough experienced tech professionals around to take on these new roles.
But by focusing on upskilling candidates with valuable, transferable soft skills, tech leaders are opening the door to a wider and more diverse pool of talent and developing the technical expertise they need from the inside.
“As demand for technical skills continues to grow, and experienced tech talent gets harder to find,” says Zoë Morris, President at Mason Frank. “Employers need to fill these tech roles, but there’s a growing understanding that looking for a candidate for a tech job that knows everything is like looking for a needle in a haystack—a very expensive needle at that.”
“The bottom line is that the ins and outs of software and infrastructure platforms can be learned, but soft skills are far harder to teach,” she continues. “As a result, we’re seeing more and more organizations shift their focus onto soft skills.”
When you’re the only person in the room that fully understands a tech platform, communication skills are vital. Tech professionals are often called upon to troubleshoot issues, explain processes, or justify the value of a platform or service to users and stakeholders—at all levels of technological awareness.
That’s going to be a lot easier if you’re able to communicate clearly, effectively, and patiently. It’s not just verbal communication that’s important either; you need good written communication to create vital content like user guides and documentation too.
Much of working in a tech role is about knowing how to use your chosen technology to overcome challenges within a business. Being able to identify snags, apply your knowledge, and design effective solutions is essential in any position working with Salesforce. The roadblocks you face may not always be technical, so being able to think creatively and deploy solutions to common challenges like user adoption and security best practices will be a bonus.
Communication plays a role in problem-solving too; the first step to finding a solution is working out what the obstacle is in the first place, and in many cases, you’ll be working alongside users to discover what issue is plaguing them.
From implementation to data migrations, you’ll also tackle a multitude of different types of projects as a Salesforce professional. Being able to carry those projects from planning to go-live—on time and within budget—is essential to keeping your implementation performing at its best. Task prioritization, time management, and strong organization skills are all part of effectively managing and executing projects, and having them on your resume will be a huge advantage if you’re looking for a Salesforce role.
Whether you’re coming from an entirely different type of role, or you’re looking to break into a new area or product ecosystem within tech, it’s clear that soft skills can go a long way toward positioning you as a great candidate despite a relative lack of experience.
Transitioning from other disciplines has long been a common career path for those in tech roles. Take these stats from our latest Careers and Hiring Guide: Salesforce Edition as an example. When we asked Salesforce professionals about their educational background, we found that while 89% had earned a degree, a third of respondents were qualified in a non-IT-related field. Among the top ten degrees undertaken by respondents were Business Administration, Management, Economics, Finance, and English.
It’s also not unusual for people who have used digital products or services to become ‘super users’; knowledgeable users of a software platform that become the go-to experts whenever their colleagues have questions or issues.
As they build deeper experience with the technology they work with, these super users often find they have a passion for tech, and are able to move into fully tech-focused roles. Such career changes are made possible, in no small part, by transferable soft skills.
“People who can solve problems, communicate well, and keep plates spinning are incredibly valuable,” says Morris. “These kinds of soft skills are like gold dust: with a bit of enthusiasm and drive, everything else you need to know can be taught.”
With more tech roles on the market than ever before, these findings are especially valuable for budding technologists looking to start an exciting and rewarding career in the tech space.
So what’s the best way to use existing soft skills to your advantage in your job search? We asked a few professionals in the education and learning space for their tips.
“Soft skills are just like any other skill,” says Roni Eskola, VP of Marketing at language learning company Lingvist. “They require constant practice to improve. Take every opportunity you can to practice them, whether it’s through activities at work or in your personal relationships.”
“If you find yourself with limited opportunities to practice your soft skills, there are plenty of organizations and online platforms that offer courses and workshops that focus on soft skills development such as communication, emotional intelligence, and leadership. Enroll in these programs to gain new insights and meet mentors who can guide and support you in improving or developing new soft skills.”
When it comes to representing your soft skills during your search for a tech job, Ariav Cohen, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at education technology company Proprep, shared this advice: “No specific test or question will help you portray your soft skills.
“These skills are displayed in every interaction you have with your interviewer and find a place in every move you make, from submitting a great resume to how you follow up with HR on your chances of landing the job.”
To help catch a hiring manager’s eye, Roni suggests that you try to align your own soft skills set with the requirements of the job you’re applying to. “Customize your cover letter and resume to showcase soft skills that align with the job requirements,” she says.
Another top piece of advice for your tech job search is to have some examples at the ready. “Soft skills are more difficult to measure than technical skills,” explains Roni, “so use specific examples from your past experiences to show how you have used them in previous roles and what you achieved when you used those soft skills. For example, if the employer requires strong communications skills, prepare an example of how you communicated effectively with colleagues in your previous roles.”
“Finally, be honest about how your soft skills match up with the job requirements. Although it’s possible for you to develop and improve your soft skills over time, you need to be realistic about what you can bring to the role from the get-go. If you feel that you don’t match the requirements for the job, it’s worth considering other opportunities that align better with your strengths.”
Ready to see where a tech role could take you? There are plenty of businesses out there looking for someone with your soft skills to be their next great tech hire.
“The huge impact of soft skills is why companies are much more open to hiring for potential than they’ve ever been,” concludes Zoë Morris. “If you’ve got the sort of transferable skills they’re looking for, now is a great time to get into tech.”
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