According to a recent survey by Linkedin, which analysed 50,000 professional skills, 57% of senior leaders believe that soft skills – skills that are more human and emotion led – are more important than specialist hard skills.
With the rise of AI, and its increasing role in the workplace, this shouldn’t come as a shock. Robots may be able to automate almost every corporate process out there, but when it comes to situations which require emotion and empathy, like having difficult conversations, thinking creatively or building relationships, the human touch is still very much needed.
Recruiting takes time and effort, so it’s important to go into your search knowing what you’re after.
A candidate’s CV will give you a pretty good idea of the hard skills they can offer, but when it comes to soft skills, they might not even know what their strengths are themselves, so it’s down to you to recognise them..
So, next time you’re vetting a potential candidate, look out for the following soft skills:
- Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the process of analysing a problem, coming up with a number of different solutions, and judging which one is best. Things don’t always go to plan, so having someone who can solve an issue both quickly and effectively is a huge asset.
- Creativity: Linkedin’s research revealed this to be the trait employers seek the most. There’s a long way to go before AI will be able to think creatively to solve a problem, so hiring someone who can think outside the box is a great investment.
- Resilience: In this unpredictable working culture, the ability to take stressful situations in our stride and bounce back after a set-back is a desirable characteristic to have. Things can go wrong at the drop of a hat, so employees need to be able to overcome challenges and deal with failure and come back stronger.
- Team player: Everyone’s CV/cover letter will say they’re a team player, so it’s up to you to suss out if this is actually true. Candidates that trample on others to achieve their own objectives are unlikely to benefit the business as a whole, so should be struck from your shortlist right away.
- Leadership: Look for leadership qualities in all hires, not just when filling managerial positions. You need employees who can take charge of a situation when needed, like when their manager is sick or goes on maternity leave for example. Recognising these qualities at the hiring stage will only benefit the future of your workforce.
- Communication: Just because someone can talk for England, doesn’t make them good communicators. Knowing when to speak, when to sit back and listen and how to facilitate constructive conversations to get to the bottom of a problem is where real value lies.
- Time Management: Like team work, everyone will say they have strong time management skills. However, in this modern fast pace working culture, it’s vital that your employees really will stick to tight deadlines, and not just say they will. Ask your interviewee to give examples of when they’ve demonstrated time-keeping skills, and if they turn up late for their interview, you have your answer already!
- Persuasion: Ideas get put into practice more quickly and efficiently when others buy into them. Hiring someone who can persuade colleagues to see their point of view and to get behind an idea will be more productive as a result.
- Positivity: Research has shown the happier you are, the more productive you’ll be. Positivity is contagious, so hiring people with a positive attitude can lift others around them, and boost engagement too.
- Work Ethic: Will they be able to stay focused? Will they be organised? Will they turn up to work on time? These are the questions you should ask yourself when vetting candidates. Just as positive employees will increase the productivity of those around them, a lazy employee will have a negative effect.
Keep these soft skills in mind, and you’ll be on your way to a winner with your hiring strategy.
Top tip: HR systems that have recruitment capabilities will often let you qualify candidates using scoring against specific questions you set. This is a great way of identifying early on whether a prospect has the skills you need, so as not to waste your time inviting unsuitable candidates to interview.