While identifying candidates with the right mix of technical — or “hard” — skills is undeniably important, it’s equally essential for recruiters to suss out desirable interpersonal — or “soft” — skills.
Read on to learn why and how recruiters and hiring managers should prioritize soft skills throughout the hiring process.
A Closer Look at Soft Skills
When we talk about professional skills, we’re usually talking about quantifiable hard skills. These can include everything from foreign language proficiency to computer programming. While a job applicant may have a particular aptitude in one of these areas, hard skills are typically acquired through education and training.
Soft skills are more difficult to quantify, and relate less to a person’s abilities and more to their innate personal characteristics. While it’s quite possible to develop soft skills, it takes effort. Examples of soft skills include communication, listening, critical thinking, adaptability, leadership and likability. These traits don’t just give a glimpse into a candidate’s personality, but also indicate their potential to work as part of a team.
Soft Skills, Big Impact
We’re living in a highly collaborative era. As digital access continues to break down geographic barriers, teamwork is more important than ever. And while the success of an individual may rely largely on hard skills, team success depends on soft skills. If your goal is to build a solid team, candidates with soft skills are likely to make a valuable contribution.
Soft skills are further distinguishable from hard skills in another meaningful way. While hard skills apply directly to a particular task, soft skills are transferable. In other words, they remain a commodity in a variety of situations.
Soft Skills Hiring 101
On a resume, soft skills are simply words on a piece of paper. This is why the interview is particularly important. In many cases, soft skills — or lack thereof — are immediately obvious during the interview.
In other cases, recruiters can tailor questions to reveal sought after soft skills. For example, if flexibility is a priority, you might ask a candidate to relate an instance in which the ability to adapt was essential to his/her success. A candidate’s response offers concrete evidence and helpful insight.
While hard skills often claim the spotlight during the hiring process, soft skills should not be underestimated. Recruiters who prioritize a winning mix of both can expect optimal outcomes when it comes to acquiring 21st century talent.
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