Hiring for Soft Skills: Benefits and Tips
Today, hiring for soft skills is critical for your organization’s success. By looking beyond a job’s requisite hard skills, such as those needed for cloud computing or customer service, you can attract and retain top talent by focusing on soft skill recruitment.
According to a recent LinkedIn Global Talent Trends survey, 92 percent of hiring and talent professionals stated that it’s “increasingly important” to hire candidates with well-developed soft skills, especially in today’s changing workplace. In the same survey, 89 percent stated that bad hires “typically have poor soft skills.”
Unlike hard skills, however, soft skills are often trickier to assess during the hiring process. It’s hard to tell from a resume what soft skills someone possesses. And traditional interview questions don’t typically focus on these competencies.
In this article, we’ll explore some benefits of hiring for soft skills for organizations. And we will offer tips for switching to a soft skills-focused hiring process.
Benefits of Hiring for Soft Skills
Broaden and diversify your hiring pipeline
Increased workplace productivity, employee retention, and improved customer service experiences aren’t the only benefits of hiring for soft skills. Additionally, hiring for soft skills allows you to broaden and diversify your hiring pipeline since you’re shifting your focus away from credentials.
According to Harvard Business Review, companies with robust talent pipelines focus on “potential, not credentials.” For example, instead of focusing on technical skills, which have a shelf life of a couple of years, soft skills can last a lifetime. Notably, those employers all valued soft skills as much as they did hard ones.
Increase workplace productivity and retention
In a frequently cited study by Harvard University, University of Michigan, and Boston University, researchers found that soft skills training increases productivity and retention by 12 percent, overall netting a 256 percent return on investment. That would make any CFO happy.
Further, as the workplace quickly evolves, upskilling and reskilling are at the top of everyone’s to-do list. Training for soft skills is no different. In a 2019 Consumer Technology Association study, 66 percent of tech industry leaders stated that “professional development programs to hone soft skills” are important or very important to retaining qualified employees over the next five years.
Improve customer satisfaction and experience
Soft skills are also essential when delivering superior customer experiences. After all, most customer service skills are soft skills, such as active listening, communication, and empathy.
And, of course, when customers have better experiences, this leads to increased sales. Forrester recently reported that companies focused on customer experience increased revenue 1.4 times faster while increasing customer lifetime value 1.6 times more than companies without a customer experience focus.
Additionally, soft skills are more challenging to teach than hard skills. Why are soft skills harder to learn? For one, they are rooted in personality, unlike hard skills. For example, empathy may be rooted in one’s life experience.
Because soft skills are tied to an employee’s personality, improvement of these skills requires continual learning and self-reflection. It’s just not the same for hard skills like accounting. When you hire for soft skills first, you’ll find it easier to upskill employees. This is because you’ll be focused on easier-to-train hard skills.
Tips for Switching to a Soft Skills Focused Recruiting Process
Focus on your job descriptions
Review your current job descriptions. Do they focus on soft skills such as communication or teamwork? If not, it’s time to step back. Review the competencies needed for the job opening and refine your job ad accordingly. Refocusing your job requirements with soft skills in mind not only helps you find the best candidate but also strengthens your talent pipeline by broadening your pool of qualified applicants.
Structure your interviews
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “hard skills can be trained; soft skills can’t.” Because of this, it’s critical to structure your job interviews in a way to solicit insight into soft skills competencies. However, when refining your interviewing process, be sure to standardize your questions, helping to keep potential bias in check.
Screen for soft skills efficacy
Pre-hire assessment tools allow you to pinpoint soft skills at the top of the funnel. By incorporating these tools into your hiring process, you can hire up to 10 times more accurately. This saves money, time, and, yes, frustration, while creating a better recruitment experience for candidates.
With AI-driven tools such as Cangrade’s pre-hire assessments and job description decoder, you can start narrowing your talent pool quickly, making the right hire the first time. You can learn more about how these tools help you identify the specific soft skills required for success in your organization with this demo.