Are You Looking for Soft Skills When You Hire?

BY Kathy Crosett
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With the economy in expansion mode and more employers hiring, you’ll have to compete to get the
best candidates to agree to work for your business. If you’re like many hiring managers, you’re probably using tools to measure hard skills and personality traits before determining whether your top candidate is a good fit for your company. In your rush to hire, don’t forget that you need to consider soft skills as well. At the LinkedIn Talent Blog, Guy Berger discusses how important soft skills have become.

LinkedIn analysts conducted an analysis of records in its database to determine the types of soft skills organizations need in their employees and managers. The study was prompted by the fact that nearly 6 in 10 managers say they are having trouble finding team members with the right soft skills. Here’s a list of the top soft skills that were shown on LinkedIn pages for folks who were hired during the study period:

  • Communication 57.9%
  • Organization 56.5%
  • Teamwork 56.4%
  • Punctuality 55.9%
  • Critical thinking 55.8%
  • Social skills 55.8%

When businesses hire for management positions, they’re looking for a slightly different set of soft skills. While punctuality and critical thinking are key attributes, employers also want managers who rank high on the scale for interpersonal communications and creativity.

As Berger points out, most employers have automated the routine tasks in their organizations. To grow quickly in today’s changing business environment, businesses need employees who can think critically and adapt quickly. Adapting might mean learning how to develop a new product or service or it might mean working with a new team for 6 months. Critical thinking skills often come down to whether or not a candidate has any common sense.

Employers are spending a lot of time and money these days looking for team members who will fit in, possess the technical ability to do the job and who can also think critically. If you’re having a difficult time deciding which candidate to hire, follow the path taken by some of the companies highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article on this topic – invite the candidate and her family to a non-​work event and observe her interactions in order to understand how she treats others.

If your hiring processes don’t include a way to screen for soft skills, consider making some changes. It might take longer to hire a team member, but at least you can be confident you're making the right decision before you extend an offer.