HR Insights

Soft Skills: Hiring the Right Candidate

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Tiffany Moore headshot.
Tiffany Moore
VP, Client Partnerships
March 21, 2017

Resumes tell us a lot about job candidates—work experience, education, and training. But more and more, employers are placing a heavier emphasis on soft skills when hiring workers. So what exactly are soft skills and why should you look for them when hiring?

Soft skills are a set of personal qualities that equip someone to interact well with others and perform well on the job. These often overlooked abilities can have a huge impact on your business. Some examples include:

  • Communication skills
  • Self-motivation
  • Leadership qualities
  • Teamwork capacity
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Resilience
  • Adaptiveness to change

While education and job experience are key components to filling a role, soft skills may surprisingly be even more significant. In fact, this career builder survey says 62% of employers consider these qualities as super important. Here’s why:

Soft skills are a good predictor of future success.
According to a study out of Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Center, 85% of job success comes from a developed set of soft skills. That means education and job experience are not as important as having an ability to relate to others, good time management, and resiliency.

Soft skills are a valuable resource at your company.
New research from the University of Michigan says training in skills such as communication, time management, problem-solving, and decision-making boosts productivity. When you hire people who can manage stress, communicate, and adapt to change, your company is more efficient—tasks are completed on time and employees can handle more responsibility. Also, your pool of leaders to be groomed for advanced roles will be bigger and better.

Soft skills give your company a competitive edge.
Hard skills—education, work experience, and technical training—are great, but they’re fairly easy to come by. However, finding someone gifted at learning to relate to others, manage projects, and develop leadership qualities can be much harder. But snagging these candidates means hiring a powerful group of employees who can take your company to new heights.

Employees with soft skills give your company a leg up, but the hard truth is these candidates can be hard to find. Don’t rule out people who may possess soft skills not outlined in a resume. Make use of the interview process to evaluate your candidate’s abilities in these key areas. As you talk, keep in mind the most qualified candidate on paper may lack the necessary interpersonal skills to be successful. And if necessary, consider a lesser qualified applicant if they exhibits well-developed soft skills. Once you know what to look for, you’ll be more likely to secure a well-rounded employee with the right mix of skills and talents.