What do the nation’s CIOs seek in tech professionals? Communication skills. That’s according to Robert Half Technology’s latest salary guide for tech pros (registration required), which included a survey of 2,500 CIOs across the United States. Some 28 percent of those executives thought that tech pros could improve their communication skills, “including written, interpersonal and face-to-face communication.” Another 21 percent of CIOs thought that tech pros should focus on boosting their problem-solving abilities, while 18 percent cited work ethic (“including accountability and reliability”). The need for more creative thinking (13 percent), professionalism (9 percent), and business acumen (8 percent) rounded out the list. Although tech pros spend a considerable amount of time keeping their technical skills up to date (as well they should, given their industry’s rapid evolution), soft skills are just as important when it comes to landing, keeping, and growing within a job. Tech pros are no longer isolated within their companies; depending on their specialty, they may be asked to interface with employees across their organization. Being able to win consensus, as well as explain problems and results, is essential in that context. But soft skills are more than just the ability to communicate. Flexibility in the face of changing circumstances, engagement with multidisciplinary teams, and even customer service are all necessary skills. When reviewing candidates for an open position, make sure they effectively demonstrate their soft skills; those candidates may have an edge over even their most technically adept peers. During the résumé-review process, check for listed skills such as strong work ethic, stellar communication abilities, problem-solving, and being a team player. During the job interview, ask the candidate to tell some stories that demonstrate how they put their soft skills to effective use in an office context; that may show they have the right mix of abilities for the position.