Hard skills have long been seen as the criteria needed for a person to succeed in a role. Sure, hard skills are undeniably important, especially in positions such as technical roles that require knowledge of a particular style of coding. But the half-life of many hard skills is shrinking – but that’s okay, because hard skills can always be taught.
When it comes to soft skills, these are a lot more difficult to train. They are self-developed attributes that are usually picked up through life and work experiences. Soft skills are a combination of many different things, including:
- A good work ethic
- Team working
- A positive attitude
- Interpersonal skills
Why are soft skills important?
They have always been important – they’re simply just becoming more important than before. Because of advancements in aspects like automation and machine learning, hard skills are no longer enough. Soft skills are a lot more transferable than hard skills, which tend to be more specific to a job role. Just think – you come across a salesperson who has unrivalled knowledge of their product and market, but they lack the interpersonal skills and the positive attitude to make people want to purchase. Or, you bring a new member into your team and they struggle to build relationships in the office and succeed because they aren’t very good with team work.
We value soft skills in the workplace because they allow us to work well with others and enable us to function and thrive in an organisation.
Unlike hard skills, it can be difficult to measure a candidate’s soft skills during the hiring process. But it’s important that we put the time and effort into uncovering these – 89% of employers surveyed said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack the critical soft skills.
Soft skills are where machines can’t compete. According to the research undertaken by LinkedIn in their Global Talent Trends 2019, creativity is the most in-demand soft skill that’s in short supply. Alongside persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management. It’s likely that these skills aren’t actually that short in supply – we’re just putting too much focus on hard skills during the recruitment process, and not putting enough effort into discovering a candidate’s soft skills.
Measuring soft skills
The soft skills required to be successful in a role will vary between organisations and the types of roles available. 68% of recruiters surveyed say that their main chosen method for assessing soft skills is watching for social clues in interviews. She seemed up-beat, so she probably has a good work-ethic. He seemed nervous, so he probably wouldn’t be a good leader.
The issues with these methods are that they’re so fraught to unconscious bias because we’re just making blind judgements about people without using any form of reliable measure. According to Harvard Business Review, 80% of staff attrition is due to poor hiring that was driven by insufficient assessment of soft skills – so why are so many still using unreliable measures? That’s probably because most of us don’t know exactly how to pick up on soft skills, and don’t know how to begin actually measuring them.
Our soft skills are driven by our personal values, as these determine how we behave and react in certain situations and are therefore portrayed through our strongest soft skills every day. For example, if we strongly value fairness, we’re more likely to have good leadership skills. Or, if we value perseverance, we’ve probably got a good work ethic.
Here at Shine, we worked with a behavioural psychologist to develop a platform that measures the 36 core values of a candidate against the organisation they’re applying for. Most of these values are what we would also class as soft skills, including things such as creativity, organisation, decisiveness, amongst many more. Our values-based recruitment platform provides you with a scientifically backed method of not only measuring these values, but also helping you measure how well that candidate will fit into your team.
When getting the platform up and running for your organisation, we get your teams to take part in a 15-minute bench-marking exercise to find out which values it is that makes them such a fantastic team. This benchmark is then used to assess your candidates to see whether they possess the same values so that they fit well within the organisation. We’re helping to take the guess work out for you, so those broken scales are a thing of the past!