Why recruiters should focus more on soft skills

Agility, willingness to learn, and respect for ideas are as important as job-related expertise

Why recruiters should focus more on soft skills
loyers these days assign more weight to a combination of soft skills alongside the more traditional hard ones, recruiting expert Hays says.

Not all of it can be gleaned from their CVs and interviews, however.

These soft skills include willingness to learn, adaptability and respect for the ideas of others.

Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand, said that the most job-ready candidates are those who offer a complete package of advanced technical skills, which remain in high demand, as well as progressive soft skills.

“The world of work changes rapidly, with digital innovation altering the way we operate and the skills we need. Employers are updating selection criteria accordingly with new soft skills joining communication and organisation as essential for today’s jobseekers,” he said.

So what exactly are these soft skills, according to Hays? They are:

1. A willingness to learn
“A willingness to learn tops the list of soft skills sought,” says Deligiannis. “The ideal employee listens to webinars and podcasts, looks at what the competition is doing, keeps an eye on customer feedback, recommends news articles to their colleagues and creates email alerts for themselves surrounding relevant topics.
According to him, this goes hand in hand with being self-aware. “As changes occur in your industry, you must have the self-awareness needed to spot any new gaps in your skills and knowledge, and seek to bridge them.”

2. A customer focus
Most businesses are steered by their customers and the ways in which customer buying patterns evolve.

“For instance, sports fans will now buy match tickets via a third party app rather than at a stadium box office and holiday makers will go on price comparison sites for the best deal before booking their flights.”

Technology changes consumer behaviour, and organisations require employees who are in-tune with these changes, said Deligiannis.

3. Adaptability
“An ability to accept and adapt to change is important too because, like it or not, change is part of the modern working world. Whether organisational, technological or skills-based, the jobs we do and the way we do them is and will change again and again. Since we don’t know what those changes will be, employers want people who can move out of their comfort zone and see change as an opportunity for growth and innovation.”

4. Interpersonal and communication skills
“It is all well and good learning something new every day and thinking of smart solutions to challenges, but these soft skills get lost if you don’t communicate your knowledge to others.”

Deligiannis adds: “That’s why employers still require jobseekers who possess exceptional communication skills and are comfortable speaking with people at all levels of an organisation in a professional manner.”

5. Respect for the ideas of others
“Yes, an individual must bring ideas to the table and communicate their views effectively but, crucially, they must also respect each other’s ideas,” he said.

“In workplaces that embrace diversity of thought and collaboration, debates sometimes ensue and push people to come up with more innovative solutions to the problem or issue at hand. But you must be able to keep the debate on-task and professional, never personal.”

6. Organisational skills
“Organisational skills remain a focus with employers still looking for new recruits who can effectively organise their time to ensure productivity is maximised, deadlines are met, resources are coordinated and no details are missed,” Deligiannis said.

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