Why soft skills are the key to thriving in tech

Are you hiring new team members based on a technical resume and interview, then learning they don’t have the essential skills to succeed once hired? You may be too fixated on their technical skills and overlooking critical soft skills that will help them thrive in the role.

In today’s global tech talent shortage, employers need to rethink how they hire and support their employees. Whether it’s hiring new staff or training existing staff to upskill or reskill to help them meet business goals, looking at candidates’ soft skills can be a strong indicator of their suitability for the role.

Traditional educational credentials like diplomas are still relevant and important to understand a candidate’s technical competency, but also look for candidates who have proven, relevant soft skills to complement their knowledge.

In this article, we explore the shift in tech hiring practices, why employers are placing greater weight on a candidate’s soft or essential skills, and how you can invest in your team's soft skills development.

The shift in tech hiring practices

Skills-first hiring approaches expand your talent pool by an average of 10x (technology jobs by 12-13x), as potential employees come equipped with transferable skills they’ve picked up across different jobs, industries, and roles.

As tech hiring shifts its focus to soft skills, bootcamp graduates are becoming a viable recruitment source for hiring managers due to the emphasis these courses place on their graduates’ soft skills development. Your potential candidate pool widens when you include bootcamp grads; 8,334 Canadian students graduated from bootcamps between 2021-2022.

Bootcamps give students an immersive experience to learn the technical, job-ready skills needed, as well as related soft skills needed to succeed in a tech career. This is because these courses provide focused learning of practical skills and up-to-date industry training (unlike other post-secondary educational programs, which may be outdated and slow to iterate course material). From an employer's perspective, the challenge lies in identifying internal candidates who possess a genuine passion for the job and a keen interest in upskilling or reskilling.

“Passion can show itself in different ways,” says Penny Longman, Director of Information Security and Data Stewardship at Fraser Health Authority.

“You have to ask the questions about it to see the depth of their passion that shows in the work that they've done; not so much in the words coming out of their mouths. ”

Employers should strive to recognize employees with drive and passion and present them with upskilling or reskilling opportunities. This investment in their development can significantly contribute to the company’s larger business goals and address skills gaps.

Michaela Clouston, Manager of Enterprise Security Education - Financial Crimes Unit at BMO Financial Group, says, “If they don’t necessarily have their certification ticked off, that shouldn’t be a hindrance.”

Why are soft skills as important as technical skills?

Soft skills, or “essential skills,” are transferrable skills that employees can use across nearly every job or area of life. In technology roles, there are many hard skills to master, but some forget that soft skills can help a person perform these hard skills better and more effectively.

Longman, says that hard skills are more easily taught, “We can teach people soft skills, but actually teaching [these skills] is a lot harder than teaching technical skills.”

Soft skills for tech professionals

Here are a few common soft skills to look for in potential tech candidates:


Verbal and written communication are essential soft skills for any job. Good communication skills help your employees express their ideas, understand others' needs, and work more effectively in teams.

In the world of tech, clear communication is critical to ensure jobs get completed to spec and that others, especially non-tech roles, understand the most “technical” topics are received and understood by co-workers. For example, being able to help a product manager understand the implications of changing one line of code is important to getting buy-in and setting expectations.


Even solo and remote workers are part of a team. Thus, teamwork skills are essential to collaboration and progress in your organization. Good teamwork skills help you participate in various team roles, including leaders, coordinators, specialists, evaluators, and researchers, to name a few.

Tech employees are largely thought of as independent or solo-workers, but they’re actually part of a larger team. For example, knowing the role they play on a website development project, helps them understand when and who to collaborate with for each part of the project, especially when changes to end-user experience, content, copy or design are required.


Good problem-solving skills help you see the problem from different angles, test out-of-the-box solutions, and make successful decisions repeatable. It’s another essential transferable skill that is beneficial for many jobs, including tech.

Tech jobs are full of troubleshooting and times when you need to get creative with software or code to accomplish a goal. For example, a website developer may be asked to achieve an outcome or deliverable (such as a new functionality on the company website) without guidance as to “how.” This means problem-solving and analytical skills are necessary to find the right solution for the stakeholder.


Adaptability is how you evolve and change with the world or situations around you. This soft skill is essential to adapting to changes in your industry or external factors that may sway you off your planned course.

The tech industry is evolving rapidly, and adapting to changes in this industry is vital for all skilled tech workers. For example, as new technology emerges, coding languages evolve, and new cyber threats arise, tech specialists with strong adaptability can learn new skills quickly to stay with, or ahead of the curve.


Resourcefulness is a soft skill that helps you overcome challenges and reach outcomes quickly or creatively. Knowing where or how to find what you need (knowledge or a physical object) is a core element of problem-solving, applicable to any industry and job. In tech, those who know how to solve problems independently by using resources available to them are the ones who will succeed. This may mean doing independent research or upskilling to get the required skills or knowledge to complete their tasks and projects.

Time management

To avoid being a burden on the team, missing deadlines, or requiring micro-managing, time management skills go a long way. Time management is critical to planning projects, focusing on the task at hand, and working efficiently to reach assigned goals and deadlines.

The tech industry is heavily deadline-driven. Whether a team member has been given a deadline by a colleague or manager, needs to communicate realistic deliverable dates for a task or project, or work efficiently without distractions, effective time management skills are an important part of being a good team player.

Learning how to learn

Being an effective learner is a soft skill often overlooked on resumes. Knowing how well an employee can absorb and apply new information can help them adapt and grow to better support their professional development and your organization.

In the evolving and changing world of tech, support your team by providing opportunities to keep their skills up-to-date. Good learners remain ahead of the curve and can help your organization mitigate delays or disasters (like a cyber attack) when they regularly upskill.

Infographic The soft skills spectrum

Short definition

Why it’s critical in tech


Effective written and oral communication skills

  • Help you communicate technical topics to others

  • Helps you understand the requirements of others

  • Helps you clearly communicate through written or spoken word


Becoming an effective contributor on teams

  • Helps you contribute meaningfully in project groups

  • Helps you better communicate your needs

  • Helps you understand the needs of others


Ability to solve problems

  • Find out-of-the-box solutions to achieve tech or project goals

  • Helps you combine your current tech knowledge with new knowledge


Ability to change, adapt, and grow

  • Helps you adapt to emerging cyber threats

  • Helps you upskill or reskill as necessary to stay on or ahead of the technology curve


Ability to find what you need, or learn something new

  • Helps you solve coding challenges using resources available to you

  • Helps you know where to get additional education or learning that will benefit your job or help you troubleshoot. 

Time management

Managing your time to work efficiently and meet deadlines

  • Helps you meet tech or product launch deadlines

  • Helps you work more efficiently on your tasks

  • Helps you proactively plan projects with realistic deadlines

Learning how to learn

Optimizing your learning process for efficiency and to maximize learning potential

  • Helps you learn new tech topics more efficiently

  • Helps you upskill to be more effective in your role. 

  • Puts you ahead of others who aren’t doing continuous learning

Soft skills vs. hard skills: Striking the balance

Hard skills and certifications in tech-related industries will always be necessary. However, as the industry shifts towards greater importance on soft skills, it’s critical to strike a balance between a candidate's hard skills and their soft skills and experience. As illustrated below, you'll see how hard and soft skills support each other in three popular job roles:

Hard skills

Soft Skills

Web Developers

HTML, CSS, Responsible Design, Frameworks, Debugging

Communication, teamwork, time management, accountability

Data Scientists

SQL, database management, data analytics, statistics, machine learning, AI 

Communication, collaboration, problem-solving, creativity, 

Cyber Security Architect

Programming languages, cloud computing, storage system management, database management

Communication, problem-solving skills, learn to learn, adaptability

Learn more about the soft skills that help cybersecurity experts thrive:

Alari Aho, CEO and Founder of Toggl, has observed the evolution of the blending of hard and soft skills in tech to create a more holistic skill set for employees.

“In the early days of Toggl, technical skills might have been the ticket in, but now, we're looking for the complete package,” he explains.

“It's about how well someone can collaborate, communicate, and contribute to our culture of continuous improvement. This evolution reflects a broader industry trend towards creating more dynamic, adaptable, and empathetic tech teams.”

The soft skills mentioned above also act as transferrable skills—those that have been developed in other roles or jobs and carry from one role to another. This is beneficial for both the employee and the organization. Professionals with strong soft skills are in a great position to make lateral career moves, and employee retention increases at an organizational level due to higher job satisfaction.

Enhancing soft skills for tech professionals

There are many ways you can help your existing tech employees enhance their soft skills:

Provide mentorship

Connect your employees with mentors in their specialty. These can be individuals in your company (potentially co-workers or senior members) who can provide regular check-ins and support to help the employee ask questions, get feedback, learn, and grow.

Create a resource library

Create a resource library of books, videos, and other digital learning resources to help your tech employees learn more about their industry. This could include learning resources (textbooks, studies, reports) and news sources. Your library can also include access to upskilling and reskilling courses that help your organization meet its goals.

Invest in emotional intelligence training

Aho says another soft skill worth enhancing is emotional intelligence, which enhances teamwork and collaboration.

“Emotional intelligence (EI) has emerged as the lifeblood for success in the tech industry, especially within the context of remote work,” he says.

“It facilitates a deeper understanding among team members, helping to navigate the complexities of remote interactions and ensuring a supportive work environment.”

Embrace complexity

Aho advises tech professionals to embrace complexity to sharpen their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

“At Toggl, we challenge our team to tackle projects that push them beyond their comfort zones, encouraging them to approach problems from multiple angles,” Aho says, “Participating in hackathons, contributing to open-source projects, or even engaging in strategic games can also provide valuable practice in these areas. It's about fostering a mindset that sees every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.”

Offer upskilling or reskilling programs

Create strategic upskilling or reskilling opportunities for your staff. These programs can focus on soft skills (like emotional intelligence or leadership) or hard skills (coding, cyber security, data science). You’ll often find that participants get to practice hard and soft skills in both programs.

Connect with us to learn how our bespoke training solutions can address your unique business needs:

The role of education providers in cultivating soft skills

To meet the growing need for job candidates with job-ready hard and soft skills, Lighthouse Labs integrates soft skills into our course curriculums. We’ve found this provides our grads with the in-demand skills they need for rewarding careers upon graduation.

We also help employers like you find highly skilled candidates for your next tech job. Choose from our off-the-shelf training solutions or opt for customized training to meet your organization’s skilling goals.

Lighthouse Labs offers bespoke packages to help you fill your open roles faster, hire more efficiently, elevate team performance, and improve your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) culture.

Learn why you should hire a tech graduate from Lighthouse Labs:

Why are soft skills important in today's digital workplace?

If you’re not already emphasizing a job candidate's soft skills, you could miss out on a broader pool of potential candidates. A balance of technical (hard) skills and soft, transferable skills will be vital to helping your teams work more efficiently and filling your organization's tech skills shortage.

At Lighthouse Labs, we are dedicated to nurturing the hard and soft skills of our Bootcamp participants. With our expertise, we can help you find highly skilled candidates or enhance the skills of your existing workforce to align with your business objectives.

Talk to our Talent Acquisition team to connect with well-rounded tech grads ready to make an impact: