When recruiting candidates for your organization, there are some factors that recruiters typically look out for. This could be a personality test for applicants to determine if they would be a good fit for the company culture. For experience in required programming skills, they may be asked to perform a simple task. And for those who claim to have years of experience, they may be asked to provide a list of references as proof.
While hard skills are a must in candidates applying for certain positions, you should never underestimate the importance of soft skills. In this day and age when the internet and technology allow for easy access to information, anyone with the drive and the means can develop a hard skill over time.
Soft skills, however, aren’t just something anyone can learn. But what are soft skills and how can they benefit my organization? Here’s what you need to know about soft skills and the best soft skills to watch out for in today’s job market.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What Are Hard Skills?
To understand what soft skills are, you first have to identify what hard skills are. You don’t become a master in hard skills overnight, but by learning through education or from years of experience in your career. Examples of these include but are not limited to:
- The ability to speak one or more languages fluently
- Ability to operate heavy machinery
- Typing speed
- Graphic design
- Digital marketing
- Data mining
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Network security
- Video editing
- Statistical analysis
These are skills you can learn by getting a college diploma or taking online classes and then building what you know through years of experience doing it professionally. These skills are teachable, meaning this knowledge can be passed from one person to another.
Unlike soft skills, hard skills are quantifiable or at least can have proof that you have these skills. If a candidate claims to have a hard skill of speaking fluent Spanish, they can prove it by having a conversation in Spanish. Or if an applicant claims they can type 70 words per minute, you can put them through a typing test to prove their skill.
Most technical jobs will require knowledge in hard skills, especially for supervisory and managerial positions. While these are an important part of hiring candidates, they shouldn’t be the only set of skills recruiters should check for.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are subjective skills that are much more difficult to qualify, but you can eventually see the effects of these skill through the way an employee performs. These are personal habits that are difficult to teach but will surely affect the productivity and performance of an employee. Examples of these skills include:
- Critical thinking
- Time management
- Work ethic
For example, you can’t teach a person to adapt to changes. So, when change does come, it’s a sink-or-swim situation for them to learn how to adapt. Another example: graphic design can be taught so that a graphic designer understands how to prevent logos from becoming an eyesore, but you can’t teach the creativity that helps graphic designers come up with unique ideas.
Another thing about soft skills is that it cannot be quantifiable. Let’s say that you have an applicant applying for a position in sales. During the interview, you can try the “sell me this pen” schtick and see how well they can speak and persuade you, but you can’t say “Ah, you are 85% persuasive. You’re hired!”
But what you can measure is the effects of their persuasion skills. After you’ve hired this person and you see that employee driving revenue higher than your company’s average sales, then you know for sure that this person has the persuasive skill.
Can Soft Skills Be Learned?
Some soft skills can be learned, but the learning process can vary for everyone. For example, CEOs. upper-level management, and professional trainers can host leadership seminars to help build the attendees’ knowledge in leadership skills. Hearing advice and tips from established leaders can help some people become better leaders, but others may not learn anything from it.
On the other hand, there are those who can learn leadership when they’re pushed into a position where they have to take charge.
For more information and inquiries about pre-employment tests, don’t hesitate to contact Aptitude today.
List of Soft Skills You Want from Job Candidates in 2020
While your organization may want certain soft skills from your pool of candidates, here are some of the valuable soft skills you’ll want to see in your ideal employee.
Adaptability and Willingness to Learn
At the pace technology is evolving and the amount of information the internet holds, the skills people learn in college may become obsolete in a few years.
For example, digital marketing didn’t exist 50 years ago. In the early 2000’s, SEO Optimization meant spamming a webpage with a keyword until Google thought it was a relevant page. Today, Google’s algorithm is smart enough to crawl through content and determine if it is exactly what people are looking for.
And this isn’t limited to just jobs related to the internet. In many fields like medical, legal, industrial, customer service and more, technology will evolve – and it’s in your organization’s best interest that your people evolve with it.
For heavy machinery operators, it means learning how to use new more efficient equipment. For medical professionals, it’s staying updated on the latest medical findings. For educational instructors, it’s learning the best ways to teach a certain group of students. Your field, like it or not, will evolve, and that means your employees should be ready to re-learn and adapt with the changes.
Integrity is a highly-valued soft skill in certain industries that involve money, sensitive data, trade secrets, or the safety and security of your clients. Organizations like banks, security agencies, government offices, logistics companies, and other businesses need to be able to trust their employees and ensure that they’re not hiring someone who plans to take advantage or steal from the company or its clients. And when times are tough, it’s really difficult for people to simply trust what a candidate says or does.
Having an integrity test for hiring employees can greatly determine trustworthiness, a person’s ability to comply with rules, honesty, and their likelihood to not resort to violence. This can help assess potential candidates of organizations in any field.
As of the new normal, more companies are opting to work from home. Organizations switching to a work from home situation need to trust their employees to do their tasks and remain productive despite the distractions at home. And the thought of their employees working from home can be worrying for some employers who have read that work from home is making work hours longer because of how it makes people distracted during work.
Regardless of this, time management is an important skill that allow people to stay focused on the task at hand despite tight deadlines and the environment they work in. When tasks and operations are delayed, it’s your company and your reputation that pays for it. You can have an employee with the best hard skill in the market, but if they tend to procrastinate and fail to meet deadlines, their hard skill doesn’t really benefit your company.
Teamwork and Independence
Your ideal candidate shouldn’t just be a lone wolf or a brick in the foundation: the best candidate is one that can do both.
An employee with great teamwork skills isn’t afraid of compromise, getting their ideas shot down, and allowing others to take the lead. People who always prefer to be in control and people who prefer to micromanage will struggle during collaboration. They may be the leader to their subordinates, but there will come a time they will have to collaborate with others.
At the same time, employees should also be willing to work alone with minimal supervision. If their supervisor has to spoon-feed their employees every time, it’s not going to be a productive day. Your ideal candidate is also capable of independent decision-making for aspects that their supervisor has delegated to them.
Soft skills are just as valuable as hard skills nowadays. So, if you want to make the most out of employees that have expert-level hard skills, they should have the soft skills to turn that hard skill into an advantage for your organization.
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