Should employers still be on the lookout for soft skills?

6/29/2018

Should employers still be on the lookout for soft skills?

The idea of "soft skills" has really gained a lot of traction in the business world in recent years, even as they remain somewhat intangible and difficult to assess. To that end, some companies may now be wondering exactly how valuable it can be to seek these skills out specifically, especially if they're being considered on the same level as other skills more specifically related to the open position.

Of course soft skills have their value in any job - workers who exhibit leadership, strong communication, quick thinking and so on are always going to be valuable - but because of how difficult they can be to assess on a resume or even in an interview, focusing in on them might not always be advisable, according to LinkedIn. Certainly, talking with the references applicants list can help unlock some of those answers, but that can be misleading because those people aren't likely to be able to give a full description.

What to focus on
Instead, when talking about soft skills job candidates bring to the table, it can be wise for companies to actually ask interviewees about what soft skills they think are most important in the jobs they're pursuing, the report said. This will certainly lead them to say the skills they feel they have on their own (and frankly, they will probably be right about what they bring to the table), but could also help companies see if their visions for which soft skills an ideal candidate will have mesh with what they envision internally.

Likewise, throwing candidates a bit of a curveball in the interview process could help their soft skills come to the forefront because they will be required to think on their feet, according to Top Echelon. Just one or two unexpected questions or requirements (such as a quick written quiz) once applicants get into the in-person interview phase of the job search could be quite revealing.

What's the value?
Again, while companies will obviously get value from targeting employees who bring soft skills to their work, it's not always that easy to quantify. But a study from the World Bank found that companies typically see higher employee retention rates when they train for soft skills, and both production and efficiency within the company's daily operations tends to rise at least somewhat.

Furthermore, the study found that when employees receive soft skills training, they're also more likely to proactively seek out more direct job skills training that can, in turn, improve companies operational efficiency and effectiveness even further, the data showed.

With that in mind, it's wise for businesses to explore all their options when it comes to boosting their capability to identify and capitalize on soft skills, but also to do more to boost them internally on an ongoing basis. By doing so, companies will not only find and develop more capable employees, but also see other improvements to their bottom lines.

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