Dell, Oracle, Cisco, & HP: They're Hiring for 'Soft Skills'


"You're always the one who can 'sell' anyone on anything."

"You're the people person on this team."

"There's no one you can't get along with."

If you have been told these things over and over, then you are the new kind of employee tech companies like Dell, Oracle, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard are searching for. In an article in the IT-Jobs portion of Fins.Com, John Shinal puts it this way: "Technology companies are subtly changing the type of executive they want to hire, focusing more on personality than business or technical skills."

This shift is primarily because those companies have adopted what's called a "matrix" kind of management structure. That's to enable them to deal with the increased complexity and competitiveness of the high-tech marketplace. In a traditional structure, one executive has authority over all the resources, ranging from capital to manpower. In a matrix structure, authority is shared with others and decisions are made in groups or committees. That means that to get anything done, and to secure the resources necessary to accomplish any task, entails persuading or influencing others. That ability comes under the umbrella of "soft skills" or what's increasingly labeled as "emotional intelligence."

Some of those employers contract with executive recruiting firms such as Korn/Ferry International and Heidrick & Struggles to test job candidates' personality traits. Others simply rely on the intuition of their hiring managers. If your track record indicates you can be effective in a matrix-based organization, then consider reviewing the job descriptions at tech companies (like the ones mentioned above) to determine where you could create value.

The best places to search for these positions are on the individual companies' websites, on online job boards, and with recruiting firms. Keep in mind that in this economy, getting your foot in the door in the technology industry might mean signing on as either full-time or contract help. Additionally, if you know someone who works at one of your target companies, start there and ask about any openings.