The importance of “soft skills” is being emphasized by employers across a wide range of industries. As workforces become increasingly more remote, it has to be.
Employees need to be capable of self-management as they work from home. Organization, time management, goal setting, and self-discipline are all essential to succeeding in an unsupervised environment.
Soft skills are more valuable than you think
Acquiring those abilities, though, is easier said than done. Unlike technical skills, which can more easily be learned, soft skills are uniquely challenging to develop. That’s mostly because they’re directly tied to intangibles like character, personality, backgrounds, and experiences.
As a result, more hiring committees are placing higher value on candidates who already possess a strong set of soft skills. In fact, some organizations are purposely overlooking any technical shortcomings in order to recruit jobseekers who are better communicators, listeners and empathizers.
The Director of Business Development at BBB Great West + Pacific, Chuck D’Amico primarily looks for coachability, objectivity, resiliency, and tenacity in his candidates. “We’ll try to identify experience to some degree… that’s all great, but we don’t rely on that. That is not going to determine whether we interview someone or not.”
Experts have expressed that the most successful employees and leaders are those who understand the importance of interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. In other words, how well are you able to connect and communicate with those around you?
Communication is Key
Most talent recruiters can agree that communication usually sits at or near the top of their list of must-have skills. Remote work has forced teams to be more mindful of how and when they communicate.
“Especially living in a digital world right now, you have to be able to be relatable across video,” says Jill Rodriguez, Director of Human Resources at BBB Northwest + Pacific. “Everyone has to work on enhancing their social skills even further.”
Identifying which soft skills, like communication, you want in an employee is a great first step. Knowing when a job candidate possesses them is a tougher task. A 2019 Global Talent Trends Study conducted by LinkedIn, concluded that 57% of talent professionals struggle to assess soft skills. Determining whether a candidate has the qualities employers are looking for is a challenge.
“Whether a candidate feels that they have these skills and if they actually do, can very well be two different things,” says Rodriguez.
Both D’Amico and Rodriguez offered strategies for businesses seeking soft skills:
- Take the time to ask meaningful questions. We can all think of the typical, overused questions asked in an interview. D’Amico wants to get to know the candidate at a deeper level, so he makes sure to ask questions that will naturally lead to more personal answers. It’s really a “show, don’t tell” approach.
- Build a multiple interview model. Breaking up the interview process into rounds helps provide insight on a candidate’s consistency and depth. It also allows all parties to build trust and get a feel for how well the relationship is developing.
- Incorporate personality assessments in your interview process. Once you’re down to your last few candidates, have them complete an assessment that will help you make a confident decision. Here a few recommendations.
The use of soft skills helps you narrow down a pool of strong candidates during the hiring process, but helping your employees develop them once they are a part of your team demonstrates that you care about their personal development.
As far as the remote workforce goes, the bottom line is that employers need to trust their employees. So, incorporating soft skills acquisition, development, goal setting and reflection throughout an employee’s journey can help set them, and your business, up for success.