Empathy as a core skill for hiring in IT

I have been working in IT for 9 years and one thing I realized so far is the job description is badly broken in the industry. Overtime with a rise in new technology and tools, instead of getting better, it’s been broken more and more to shackles.

There are a lot of things wrong with the job description but I won’t write about it here, I am going to write about the piece that is missing from almost all job description I have seen so far and trust me I have seen a lot.

There are hardly any job description (or JD as they like to call it, not - Jacques Daniel) out there which ask EMPATHY as core requirements for a position.

Empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of anotherEmpathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

Why Empathy should be considered as core skill while hiring?

For a very simple reason, most of the software we write in the industry is for humans, it intends to help them. Humans action are the results of both motivation and cognitive factors, which in turns depends on emotions and feelings. Now wouldn’t it be nice to understand the feelings of a fellow being first to help him/her?

Think about this, we write software to ease the life, to increase the efficiency, to learn the new cool thing, to get connected, in boot shell for everything but have we forgot that most of those are for humans?

For what it may worth I have seen a couple of JD for testing that it asks for a software tester to be user empathetic. It asks tester should have the ability to put oneself in the shoes of end-user which is nice. Have you seen any such JD? Have you asked yourself why the only tester has to put into shoes of a user? What about other roles in IT? I’m trying to find out the answer to this question.

Why empathy should be part of JD in support roles?

Support Team need to be very empathetic with end-user, they are the one who absorbs the wrath of end-user if something doesn’t work as expected or user needs any help. Try to recall how was your experience with any last support call you may have for any product or service. Have you reflected whether that support executive was listening to you with care, he was trying to understand your problem with HEART, have you found him/her genuine, if yes then because he was empathetic, don’t you want support for any product/service from such folk in the future?

I understand that enterprise has agreed upon SLA to deal with while providing support but frankly who likes templated responses over call/email. End-user, a person of human, is wise enough to understand that it’s templated answer and support, he does not feel excited about your billion-dollar company if your support executive is not empathic about the problem.

Why empathy should be part of JD in Developer?

Companies out there want to hire a ‘Rockstar’ programmer. Companies out there want to hire ‘Ninja’ Developer? Some of them are going to offer a job to only 10x Engineer? You may have read all these requirements in JD but have you been fortunate enough to read Empathy as a skill for a developer?

In a way, good programmers are those who try to write clean code. They know how to Keep It Simple. Fundamental reasons for all those movements are that your code should be simple to understand to your teammates/humans, not to computers. All the coding guidelines start from a naming convention for the same reason. If you hire someone who has empathy about the fellow programmers, who care about how the code written today will be read tomorrow, they will write it with more care, with empathy.

Front end engineer who knows something is broken and instead of waiting for UX engineer to fix it, they will empathetically make changes which are useful from an end-user perspective. These are small things in everyday but honestly, they have a huge impact on the long run.

If I’m not wrong, empathy is already mentioned in the JD of the product owners and UX, maybe they use some words like user understanding, requirements analysis but what they want is someone who can understand the feeling of end-user and help to create delightful applications. Some companies go to the length and hire people of knows Psychology

All I’m trying to say different engineering functions need empathy as an important skill and I have seen Empathy is missing while writing a job description. Hiring managers and recruiters are asking for human bots who can just write the code as tasks assigned to them. We need to be more empathetic while writing about job description so we will have empathetic teammates.