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Time and again, our Recruiters come across people who are technically good at their jobs, but their personality, their attitude, their communication skills, their motivation and any number of other attributes actually make them undesirable as contractors.
We are all responsible for our own career and if you focus all of your efforts on the "technical" aspects of your job then you may limit your contract opportunities. It is equally important to develop the soft skills that will help you to integrate well, that will make you more personable with the client, and that will position you for an extension or referral.
Here are a few examples of some non-technical skills and why you should improve them:
Communication: There are countless reasons why you need to make communication a top priority. Primarily, in order to be a contributing member of any organization or project team, you need the ability to communicate your ideas effectively, in both spoken and written form. You'll also have the upper hand competing for contracts if you're great at selling yourself to a recruiter!
Negotiation: Whether discussing rates or working with a client, you need the ability to negotiate effectively. It's also important to know when to press your point and when to "get on board", otherwise, you may come off as stubborn, arrogant or closed-minded.
Business: To really understand your client's project, you need to be able to think about their "business" as a business person, not just from the technical seat you occupy. Understanding business basics is a very valuable asset.
Interpersonal Skills: Eagle Recruiters love the fact that they get to meet so many interesting people. Unfortunately, they've also met many contractors who simply lack interpersonal skills. If you want to build relationships with your clients, colleagues and in the industry, you need the interpersonal skills to navigate these relationships at various levels.
Do not underestimate the value of EQ versus IQ -- it can be the difference between a long and rewarding career and "something else"! The reality is that there are many, many people who are excellent technically (maybe even brilliant) but they are undone by those important soft skills they do not possess.
All of the skills above can develop over time if you pay attention, recognize their importance and work on them. What other skills would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.