“Soft Skills” Still Matter in a Modern Economy

employee engagement

Recently I was reminded that soft skills still matter in a modern economy. I was blown away by a woman I  met at a business lunch.  It wasn’t her appearance, her resume, or anything like that.  It wasn’t her posture or choice of entrée.

It was, frankly, her vocabulary.

She is one of the most articulate people I have ever met.

Masterful sentence structure, interesting facts, and words I vaguely remember from the SAT quickly commandeered our table conversation.  It was impressive.

Her “soft skills” in verbal communication were more notable to me than anything I later learned about her business background.  And those skills alone were enough to know she would make a good hire.

Afterwards, I began thinking about how important soft skills are in recruiting and choosing qualified candidates.  How can candidates market their own “soft skills”?

It’s be said that hard skills are primarily responsible for getting you the job. But it’s the soft skills keep you there and get you promoted. 

What are “Soft Skills”?

Dictionary.com defines “soft skills” as “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend of acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.”  This would be in contrast to “hard skills” that are more measurable such as technical certifications, program management skills, and education.  Another good definition for soft skills is: “a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits and more… that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, etc. (Wikipedia)”

Beyond the Algorithm

In modern recruiting, many companies pre-screen candidates based on surveys of technical knowledge and background.  This saves time and money for the business and narrows down the field.  Questions might include something like: “Do you have at least two years of experience in IT?”  Or, “Which languages and operating systems do you know?”

While these questions can be helpful, businesses may be screening out those candidates who might not have the hard skills right now, but do possess desired long-term soft skills.  Companies might consider ways to value and access soft skills in pre-screening materials.

Marketing Soft Skills as a Job Seeker

To market soft skills, it’s best to think about specific examples of how soft skills benefit a company.

For example (on a resume or cover letter):

  • The soft skill is “works well in a team environment.” This could be presented as: “As a team member and leader, I contributed to development of a company procedures handbook.”
  • The soft skill is “listening.” This could be presented as: “Ability to understand information presented by others.”
  • The soft skill is “verbal communication.” This could be presented as “Ability to present and deliver oral information to executive audiences.”
  • The soft skill is “flexibility.” This could be presented as “Ability to adapt to changing environments with a positive attitude.”

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is not to underestimate the value of soft skills in a candidate or employee.  Long term, these abilities become more important than what might look good on a pre-screening interview. Here are 3 essential books about business leadership that may help you.

At Artemis Consultants, we recognize the value of both hard and soft skills.  We have a process for qualifying candidates with the most relevant hard skills who also possess important soft skills.  Please visit Artemis Consultants for more information on how we can help you source valuable talent or find a more fulfilling career.

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