In today’s article, we discuss what soft skills are and why they’re so important in the workplace…
Hiring new employees is always a challenge. Sometimes, it’s a struggle simply to find qualified candidates. Other times, there can be a mountain of resumes to go through as you try to determine the best fit for an open position.
Traditionally, companies hire people with the most impressive education, experience, or trade skills. However, these days, hiring managers are beginning to look for something new in hopeful employees. This new requirement is something called soft skills.
Soft skills are more important than ever in the business world. In fact,57% of leaders surveyed on LinkedIn say that soft skills are more important to them in a potential applicant than hard skills.
So, what are soft skills? How do they differ from hard skills? And why should pay closer attention to whether or not potential new hires have them?
Soft Skills vs Hard Skills
Hard skills are what people traditionally list on resumes, and usually, they’re the talents needed to be able to do the job for which they’re applying. Any skill that has been taught, learned, or gained through experience is a hard skill.
Here are some examples:
- Typing Speed
- Website Design
- Any Degree or Certification
- Coding Knowledge
- Mathematic Skills
Soft skills, on the other hand, are less tangible, personality-based skills.
Again, here are some examples:
- Time Management
- Leadership Ability
- Analytical Skills and Problem Solving
- Work Ethic
- Effective Communication
Simply put, soft skills are abilities surrounding a person’s personality, drive, and natural instincts.
While these skills can be taught and crafted, they’re often just innate in people.
Why Should You Hire Candidates with Soft Skills?
Technically, a person doesn’t need soft skills to do a job. For instance, if your company is hiring a website designer who will work with your clients, their most important skill is their ability to create engaging, user-friendly websites.
However, if this designer lacks soft skills such as time management and the ability to collaborate, it can present challenges later down the road. You’ll soon find that their inability to effectively manage their time negatively impacts their ability to complete projects by given deadlines. And their lack of collaboration skills can mean an inability to accept feedback.
Anecdotal example aside, there are some hard statistics to back up the validity of soft skills in the workplace.
According to a LeadershipIQ Study, which looked at why 46% of new employees fail within their first eighteen months on the job, a lack of soft skills played a powerful role:
- 26% of failures were due to a lack of coachability.
- 23% of failures were due to a lack of emotional intelligence.
- 17% of failures were due to a lack of motivation.
- 15% of failures were due to the employee’s temperament.
- Only 11% of failures were due to technical incompetence (a lack of hard skills).
Again, soft skills are vital to an effective working environment. If your employees don’t possess the necessary soft skills to thrive in the workplace, challenges will arise, and your team will suffer for it.
How to Look for Soft Skills
Since they aren’t often listed on resumes, it can be hard to quantify soft skills on paper. It’s essential, therefore, that an interviewer is perceptive and asks questions regarding soft skills.
For instance, if you’re looking for a candidate with leadership abilities, you could ask a question like: “Tell me about a time when you had to lead a group?” or “How do you handle situations when someone disagrees with you?”
Some companies have adapted their interview process to specifically look for soft skills. They’ll hold group interviews, multiple interviews, or even require applicants to take personality tests. Sometimes, hiring managers will do test projects or require that everyone starts as an intern.
The reality is that the ideal candidates will possess a healthy mix of both hard and soft skills. You have to determine which soft skills you need in your future employees and how to asses those skills inside an interview environment.
Once you have a process nailed down, your likelihood of hiring winning candidates will increase exponentially.
Marla DiCarlo is an accomplished business consultant with more than 28 years of professional accounting experience. As the co-owner and CEO of Raincatcher, she helps business owners learn how to sell your business to get paid the maximum value for your company.