Posted on April 10, 2019 at 8:44 AM by Tom Hamilton, SPHR
In 2019, employers will entice applicants by hiring for soft skills and potential, offering more-flexible work options, and being more open about pay. When surveyed by LinkedIn more than 5,000 recruiters and hiring managers in 35 countries identified these three trends as creating the greatest change in the workplace. Workers expect more from employers—more transparency, accountability and trust, said Mark Lobosco, vice president of talent solutions for LinkedIn. "And you need more from your employees—not only their technical skills, but also their ability to think creatively, collaborate effectively and adapt quickly."
Thoughts from the survey: Hiring for Soft Skills and Potential
While hard skills are important, competencies like communication, adaptability and ability to learn on the job are crucial for successful hires. They are also among the most difficult traits to accurately measure. "Soft skills can make or break a hire—and they can also make or break a company," Lobosco said. "As automation and AI [artificial intelligence] continue to reshape entire industries, companies and jobs, strong soft skills—the one thing that machines can't replace—are becoming absolutely vital."
While companies agree that soft skills are valuable, most struggle to assess them accurately. Just 41 percent have a tool or process in place to measure them. "Employers should be looking for soft skills more and provide training for hard skills," said Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, president of HRU Technical Resources and author of The Talent Fix: A Leader's Guide to Recruiting Great Talent (SHRM, 2018.) "Organizations still post jobs that are hard-skills-based, because they don't truly know how to interview or measure for soft skills," he said.
Despite the importance of soft skills, hiring authorities aren't sure how to measure for them, usually relying on subjective “gut feel” and observations of candidates' body language. "Interviewers struggle with pulling out someone's true personality, especially because everyone shows up in interview mode," Sackett said. You need an extended period of time to really find out who someone is (which is unrealistic given most interview processes), or you can use personality assessment testing and leverage its scientific predictability.
Courtney Storz, head of global campus recruiting at financial services firm Citi, said her team uses problem-solving case studies and group exercises to showcase candidates' collaboration, communication and leadership skills, as well as an assessment, which measures a candidate's strengths and weaknesses. "Putting a premium on soft skills has allowed Citi to significantly expand its entry-level talent pipeline beyond the usual core schools, creating a more diverse workforce and reducing bias," she said.
These efforts are also helpful to the employers who are hiring for potential when candidates lack experience. Due to the low unemployment rate, experts believe that employers will continue to loosen educational and experience requirements to fill open positions.
Conclusion: Look for creativity, adaptability and ability to learn in your applicants: If you are thinking we know we need to put more emphasis on soft skills and cultural job fit, but how do we do this? Don’t worry, we hear this a lot. Selection Resources provides expertise and assessment tools that accurately measure soft skills from your entry level applicants to your next CEO. We can help identify the skills and personality needed to succeed in a job and measure compatibility between an applicant and a job. Contact us for more information on implementing a successful hiring formula that measures an applicants soft skills.
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