Our Managing Director, Samantha Crocker, discusses the most in-demand soft skills to look out for and how you can identify them in a potential new employee.
Our friends at LinkedIn have reported 92% of hiring managers now focus on finding candidates who have soft skills. Do you agree with this approach?
The question is… How do you identify a ‘soft skill’ when reviewing a Word document CV? Does it depend on what font has been used?
Soft skills are generally non-technical skills that relate to how you interact with colleagues, how you work, how you solve problems and generally manage your day.
We work with a broad range of clients, seeking a variety of experience, skills and qualifications, however there is a common thread that ties all searches together.
A word we have heard repeatedly over the last two years. A pandemic, the ‘Great Resignation’, the move to remote or hybrid working, it’s no surprise ‘A’ is for Adaptability! Both companies and candidates have had to change to be competitive and attractive. Recruiters will be looking for talent who can demonstrate they’ve succeeded at their job regardless of the challenges, tech issues or unplanned events and have kept driving forward. This skill is hard to teach, it’s a natural instinct, so if you can find someone who already demonstrates an adaptable approach – don’t hang around!
The most common phrase in a meeting “you’re on mute!”, or worse “you’re not on mute!” (How many embarrassing stories can we share here?!). As we continue to work virtually, communication skills are non-negotiable! Simple communications, straightforward messages, clear emails and virtual meeting etiquette (i.e.. being ‘present’ in the meeting; no texting, no secret emailing, no turning the camera off) are an absolute must.
During an interview process, it’s normally clear from a CV if experiences and accomplishments are portrayed and communicated accurately. Equally, during an interview, did they listen (I mean listen and actually hear), was the conversation clear, free flowing and easy? These are a good indication of great communication skills from the get-go.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is nothing new, but many organisations look for this to ensure employees will be able to work together. There are numerous tests that can be applied to ‘test’ EI, but there are effectively seven signs of a candidate with impressive EI:
- Getting along well with/having an interest in others;
- Working with integrity;
- Self-awareness of feelings;
- Measured boundaries;
- Awareness of own strengths and weaknesses.
Ability to perform in a virtual environment
Remote is here to stay, so it makes sense to attract talent who can work well in a virtual environment. It’s important to look out for collaboration with other teams, a good understanding of technology, responsive actions, self-motivation and involvement in the business culture. We all know remote working can be challenging and some people find it very isolating. A good hire is someone who can work and is happy to work independently, take responsibility for tasks and deliver.
Willingness to learn
Most employees seek to work within a company who provide opportunities to learn. Equally, as recruiters, we want to seek out candidates who want to advance and add more tools and skillsets to their personal arsenal. After all, “every day is a learning day!”.
Businesses evolve and the key is to have a team that focus on innovation, effective communication, latest technologies and change management. There are all kinds of learning platforms that employees can take advantage of and hiring managers are looking for people who are willing to learn and grow in their careers.
Even if you’re not hiring for a management or executive position, you’ll still want people who display leadership potential. Leadership doesn’t have to mean managing a large team, these people might have to manage a project or lead other remote teams while working on that. These skills can help motivate employees to be productive and ensure that all tasks and responsibilities are completed on time. So, how do you identify a leadership skill on a CV? Active listening, giving and receiving feedback, volunteering to lead projects and implement new working processes and projects.
From the moment we wake up, we make decisions. At work, everyone will have to make decisions, but analysing every opportunity and outcome is a skill. There are different ways that candidates can show this skill on their CVs and during the interview process, starting with how they’ve forwarded their career – what was the decision-making process from moving to one job role or company to another?
Let’s think ‘outside the box’. How many times have you heard that? What does creativity actually mean as a skill? Well, thinking brings a fresh and sometimes unorthodox solution to a problem or challenge. It can often lead to teams and organisations being more productive, being more agile or simply working more efficiently. This ties in with flexibility as unexpected demands and situations in the workplace may require candidates to have a versatile response that is not always part of their ‘norm’ tasks.
Not every day is a perfect day; we’ve all experienced some really tough challenges in the last couple of years, so we need to identify individuals who can pick themselves up and keep pushing forward in times of difficulty.
Ask candidates to describe a situation or if they’ve yet to face a real obstacle in their job role, ask them to describe how they would overcome a certain situation. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly and in this current climate, speed is key.
Soft skills are endless and often overlooked as hard skills are usually the ones that are noted as must-haves for particular roles. However, soft skills are equally essential and are pretty much unteachable. So, if you find a candidate that displays soft skills well, they will most likely be a great addition to your team.