In case you haven’t heard already, soft skills are a pretty big deal in today’s workforce. Job descriptions are now filled with as many character traits as technical requirements, making professionals wonder if knowledge and expertise are enough to fill the role.
And, while you won’t find any recruiters telling you to forget about hard skills, there’s no denying that soft skills have become a game-changer for candidates and companies alike.
It’s not like nobody cared about soft skills before, but with last year’s global pandemic and collective mindset shift about how the future of work should look, these are now part of the workforce’s most coveted arsenal. So much so that they are now being dubbed as power skills.
Unlike hard or technical skills, which are industry or area oriented, soft skills are about your work style. Better yet, your work ethic. It’s about how you manage your relationship with others (peers, leaders, clients, etc.) and how you carry yourself at work.
Think of a top-notch developer who can handle any tool, software, or programming language you throw their way, but are they good with adapting to new deadlines or communicating with their manager? Do they take things personally or lash out easily when things don’t go their way?
For companies, promoting soft skills among their workforce is a great way to put an end to toxic workplace culture and employee burnout. It’s not about having a homogenous mass of employees that think and act the same, but a good mix of people who know how to interact, mediate, negotiate, lead, and show up for one another to achieve their team or company goals.
Now, although a lack of soft skills has become a deal-breaker for many companies, that is not to say that someone with junior technical skills will be selected over an experienced professional for a senior role. Technical skills will greatly define whether a candidate is qualified for a job, but once that box has been checked, soft skills will determine whether one candidate will land the job over another.
If you are a candidate in the middle of your job search, a hiring manager designing a job description, or a recruiter looking for top talent, here’s how you can spot or showcase those coveted soft skills.
Be clear at all times about what type of person you need to fill this position. Not just from designing the job description but all the way up to carrying out the interview process. Do you need an extremely focused high performer or a problem-solver who’s good with improvising on the spot?
Also, remember that you don’t need to build a franken-list of personality traits, or find a flawless candidate. Ask your team what are the top 5 soft skills this new team member should have to promote a healthy and productive work environment and focus on those. Any other soft skill will, of course, become a welcomed addition.
Don’t rely only on your references! Plenty of candidates believe that having their professional references put in a good word for them will be enough. But even if your recruiter reaches out to every person on your list, that doesn’t mean they’ll cover what you consider to be your greatest attributes.
Use your cover letter, resumé, and even LinkedIn recommendations to showcase your work ethic. Make sure you bring up those skills in your interview, both through the direct questions you are asked and the ones you ask them. For example, “For me, communication is one of the bases of efficiency and teamwork, how would you say that fits into the company’s daily work culture?”
You have to put the pieces together if you want to guarantee the best cultural fit. So, start by making sure your hiring manager is clear on what they are looking for, then follow the trail. You also shouldn’t rely solely on your candidate’s references and documents.
While you are qualifying a candidate, use that time to ask them about their work style, current work environment, and relationships with coworkers. Ask them to paint a picture of what they’d do in a challenging scenario or to tell you about a time in which they had to manage a tense situation with their coworker or boss.
Not one employee can have it all, and the list of soft skills out there seems to be endless. Some roles will revolve more around interpersonal skills and others will have a greater need for problem-solving skills. Still, there are at least 4 that keep topping the charts of highly valuable soft skills in the workplace.
Go ahead and dive deeper into these and any other soft skills that will give you and your company the edge in the corporate game.
Share this post: