Photo: Bek Greenwood
With advancements due to automation and globalization, the outlook of employers has changed significantly. To know if a candidate is a right fit for their organization, they gauge their capability not from a degree, but from the attributes that they display — i.e., soft skills.
According to a survey by Talent Q, 9 in 10 employers look for effective soft skills in the applicants. These abilities are critical in any environment that requires interaction and collaboration. They define the various attributes of personality that help us complete a job successfully, including how intently we listen to others, how empathetic we are towards colleagues, and how we approach a problem. Among the most important soft skills potential employees should possess:
- Communication skills — such as the ability to communicate effectively within teams and with clients
- Interpersonal skills to resolve conflicts without hurting anyone’s feelings
- Confidence — to be able to effectively present ideas
- Teamwork and leadership skills— such as the ability to participate and lead within a team
- Critical thinking and decision-making skills — to make strategic decisions despite uncooperative clients, tough deadlines, or issues within the team
As well as:
- Networking skills
- Cultural Sensitivity
Soft Skills in the Age of Automation
In the past, employers hired candidates based on degrees, certifications, and domain-related skills. The competition was tough. With the introduction of automation in almost every industry, the competition has become even tougher: for some of these tasks, we are competing with robots. A McKinsey Global Institute report says that around 375 million jobs will be lost to robots by the year 2030, and two million jobs that require human skills will be created.
Though automation is only here to make our lives and work easier, businesses are still in dire need of professionals with unique human skills. After all, bots can make transactions, but they can’t make deals. Despite the emerging importance of automation, job positions that require soft skills can only be filled by humans. We still need skilled professionals who use their emotional intelligence to make strategic, profitable decisions.
Essential for 21st-Century Employers
A study by Wonderlic found that 93% of employers consider soft skills ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ in their potential employees. Moreover, according to a report by Burning Glass, more than a quarter of all skills mentioned in the US job postings (for even the most technical job roles) were baseline or soft skills. Further, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report, 90% of organizations are undergoing a structural and cultural transformation in order to be more dynamic, connected and team-centric. And employees or candidates who can’t keep up with the changing requirements may not be eligible for growth-oriented, high-paying jobs.
Can Soft Skills Be Taught?
In a recent trial aimed to find out if soft skills can be taught, soft skills training was offered at 5 factories in Bangalore over a period of 12 months. Researchers found a 250% increase in productivity within 8 months of the trial’s conclusion Employees or job candidates who want to develop their soft skills can work with various soft skills trainers who offer structured training or frequently conduct soft skills training workshops. At the corporate level, some employers are hiring a certified corporate trainer. It’s imperative in either case to ensure that the training addresses the given objectives. And as the demand for soft skills continues to increase, soft skills training is on the rise as a career choice as well: those with a passion and aptitude for training and coaching are finding that opting for a role as a soft skills trainer offers both high pay and a great deal of flexibility.
Today’s organizations need human professionals with uniquely human skills, or they can’t flourish. Employers should be proactive and analyze their organizational and employee needs, conducting soft skills training to fill in the gaps. It’s the best way to keep up in this changing corporate scenario.