By Sally Crowe
The workplace is changing! It is more demanding, more complex, more competitive, more collaborative and more diverse than ever. My job as a Recruitment Expert is to find my client’s next ‘Star’ performer with the right balance of hard and soft skills.
So what exactly are ‘Soft Skills’?
Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, personality traits, attitudes, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence that enable employees to work well with others, perform well and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills, such as attitude, communication (both listening and speaking skills), work ethic, teamwork, leadership qualities, decision making, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
Why are soft skills important?
The modern workplace is interpersonal and rapidly changing, and being successful means being able to cope with change. The successful people and organisations are the ones that utilise both their hard skills and their soft skills consistently. Skills such as listening, collaborating with others, presenting ideas and communicating with team members are all highly valued in the modern workplace. Strong soft skills ensure a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment.
Soft skills are becoming more critical with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. More data is analysed, but there will be a reliance on soft skills to interpret, share, utilise and apply that information. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, tasks that require hard skills are continuing to decline, making soft skills key differentiators in the workplace. In fact, a study by Deloitte Access Economics, predicts that two-thirds of all jobs in Australia will rely on soft skills by 2030.
Soft skills vs. Hard skills
A lot of emphasis is placed on ‘Hard skills’ or technical skills which are specific to your area of knowledge and expertise. This is particularly evident at the start of your career when you are studying or learning hard skills and perhaps neglecting soft skills. A focus on either set of skills will not get you very far on their own.
Dr Marion Steel, Course Director for the Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin University, says that ‘Soft skills affect every aspect of your career from the moment you start applying for jobs.’ ‘They’re often unspoken, but all employers expect that you understand what they require in a work environment.’ Dr Steel says it’s the combination of both that achieves the most organisational effectiveness. Utilising your hard skills to achieve your targets, while also employing your soft skills to go above and beyond what’s expected of you.
How to identify soft skills in your hiring process
At Employee Matters, our Recruitment Experts use the following techniques to identify and assess the soft skills of candidates:
- Evaluate Candidates Fairly – All candidates should be assessed against predetermined, key selection criteria. This ensures that candidates are assessed fairly and consistently, to help determine who is the best fit for the position
- Behavioural Interviewing – An interview technique asking the candidate specific questions about past events to determine their soft skills. This will reveal how they behaved and performed in the past, which is critical information as the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour
- Job Suitability Assessment – A job-focussed behavioural assessment that measures various traits required to perform a specific role. A report is produced per candidate and provides a job suitability score, as well as individual trait scores which are useful during the hiring process, and to identify training needs and performance management.
If you would like to learn more about our robust recruitment process, please get in touch today.