In a Wall Street Journal survey of over 900 executives, 92% reported soft skills, including communication, curiosity, and critical thinking are as important as technical skills. However, 89% of those same executives reported they have a very difficult or somewhat difficult time finding hires with the above-mentioned soft skills.
What are soft skills and hard skills?
Soft skills are interpersonal skills related to how you work, helping you create supportive and effective workplaces; such as, negotiation, time management, teamwork, and leadership.
Hard skills are technical abilities that are needed to perform specific roles. They are gained through education, training, on the job experience and learning by doing assignments. If you work in sales for example, you need to have hard skills, such as: CRM, Lead management or value selling.
Soft skills are harder to measure, whereas hard skills can be measured and certified. This is a real challenge for recruiters, who struggle to identify candidates with the right soft skills requirements. On top of this, the labor market is characterized to have a soft skills shortage. This is bad news for succession planning and leadership: leaders who retire or move on without clear replacements are placing the entire business in jeopardy.
Why businesses need candidates with soft skills (rather than hard skills) to thrive?
Successful job seekers possess a well-rounded combination of both hard and soft skills. On the other hand, hard skills are often required to be able to perform the tasks required for the role they are applying for, soft skills show the employer that the applicant can effectively and positively thrive in complex environments.
1. Soft skills are needed to adapt to the “new world of work”
According to the World Economic Forum, half of the workforce needs re-skilling in the next 5 years, as the “double-disruption” of the economic impacts of the pandemic and increasing automation transforming jobs takes hold. Below are the top skills identified by the World Economic Forum to adapt in the “new world of work”.
To become future ready, companies need to make the inventory of which exact soft skills are required for their business and advanced strategies to recruit talents with the right soft skills and behaviors.
2. Candidates with soft skills make better leaders
Candidates with soft skills tend to manage high-anxiety situations better and are more successful in making decision under pressure.. For this reason, companies should prioritize individuals with soft skills to fill top management positions. As a matter of fact, a2017 joint study from Boston College, Harvard, and the University of Michigan suggested that soft skills training in areas like problem solving and communication increases productivity and retention by 12 percent, with a 250 percent ROI.
The list of behaviors below highlight some typical traits required for leaders of the modern workforce:
- Breaking silos and improving collaboration
- Remaining agile and flexible toward disruptions
- Navigation of Ambiguity
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Working with others to solve problems
3. Candidates with soft skills can grow in different roles in the organization
Soft skills are transferable, no matter the role. For example, time management skills and problem solving can be used in any type of field. As a consequence, employees with soft skills are more likely to jump from one job to another in order to fill succession planning priorities and job rotations programs. This increases the value of such employees, who become priority targets for retention plans. Soft skills strengthen other skills and abilities, and teams with these skills will generate more value for the business over the longterm. It seems clear that candidates with soft skills are gaining a competitive advantage over other job seekers. For recruiters, assessing for soft skills is becoming an essential part of the hiring process for both permanent employees and contractors.
How do we assess soft skills?
1. Screening soft skills from applications
Screening soft skills is the most traditional and the least predicative way in place today. Resume screening is not seen as a “real” assessment method, recruiters are still making hiring decisions based on skills matching between resumes and the job description requirements. Resume screening is usually used to eliminate candidates based on the missing skills. The risk of such method is to miss out on opportunities to detect talents with the required soft skills, just because they are missing in their resumes Screening resumes can also cause hiring bias, by thinking that candidates already “have it all”, just because it is written on their CV.
2. Psychometric assessment
Psychometric assessment is a more predicative way to assess soft skills such as aptitude tests or personality questionnaires. They are usually designed to measure cognitive ability and portray personality traits. These assessments help recruiters save time for screening candidates who match their requirements and can be used as a guideline for an interview or to improve their traits later. However, rare are the psychometric assessments that offer predictive behavior analysis. Instead, they tend to describe the overall personality traits of the applicant.
3. Structured interview
The structured interview refers to a recruitment method to assess candidates. It simply means using the same interviewing questions to assess candidates applying for the same job. During interview, the recruiter will often use open-ended questions asked in the same order. Here are sample questions from a Huneety questionnaire, for the behavior of developing others : How do you coach an employee that is reluctant to improve? Describe how you succeeded in building trust with a reluctant employee and how did you coach him to improve?
Here are a few benefits of using structured interviews:
- Helps reduce hiring bias
- Predicts candidates’ skills accurately.
- Provides a consistent interview experience across candidates
- Interview responses and applicants are easier to compare
4. Behavioral assessments
A Behavioral assessment is an assessment practice borrowed from the field of psychology. Behavioral assessments are especially useful in recruitment as they help to predict behaviors and detect whether the applicant is naturally inclined to be a great fit. Huneety behavioral assessments are designed for the modern workforce, allowing employers to gain valuable insights into their candidate’s soft skills and behaviors.
Results of Huneety behavioral assessments are used to shed light on the candidate’s behavior in the workplace before they join the organisation. Assessments can be used to assess critical soft skills requirements and behaviors such as: customer service orientation, problem solving, leadership, working with others, navigating through change etc.
Huneety behavioral assessments help organizations to :
– Save time in the recruitment process and interview candidates that meet the role expected behavior requirements
– Remove bias from the hiring process so recruiters can only shortlist the most qualified candidates
– Maximize ROI with better behavior predictability (and avoid dropouts during the probation period!)
Behavior assessment reports highlight strengths and potential weaknesses so both recruiters and hiring manager can enquire about them during the interview. Each report comes with a structured interview questionnaires to support recruiters and line managers in the interview process.
Huneety is Southeast Asia Talent sourcing platform connecting talents to opportunities. We help organizations navigate talent shortages by creating new talent pools of qualified applicants. With Huneety you can quickly find, assess, and select the right talents according to your unique skills, behaviors, and cultural fit requirements.