When considering someone for a job, what do you look at? Chances are, you would scan through the candidate’s resume. What, in particular, would you focus on?
Are you confirming that the candidate has been in a similar job in the same industry? Are you looking for signs that the candidate has been doing well in that job?
You are likely looking for hard skills – expertise, experience or qualifications specific to certain jobs and/or industries. These might include functional skills like recruiting for a human resource role, or technical skills for a programmer role. Hard skills are usually not transferable across many different jobs or life situations.
Distinguishing soft traits
Now, think about your best co-worker or employee. What is it about him/her that really stands out?
Does he/she exhibit strong leadership potential? Is he/she a great team player? Does he/she communicate very effectively?
These are soft traits. Rather than being learned like hard skills, soft traits are more innate in each of us and are generally relevant across different jobs and life situations.
As you can see, a mix of both hard skills and soft traits is required for people to excel at their jobs. Some would even say that while hard skills are “hygiene factors” to undertake the job, soft traits are what distinguish great employees from the average ones.
Why are soft traits taking over?
More and more companies are exalting the value of soft traits. The need for these traits is driven by two interconnected key factors:
● Ubiquitous connectivity – With greater demand for the global workforce to be online all the time, real-time communication has become a priority. Work has become increasingly collaborative even as the workforce grows more fragmented. Fragmentation is not merely in geographical terms, but also the mix of full-time, part-time and gig workers, of different cultures.
● Shortening of business cycles – Business cycles in the digital economy have dramatically shortened. It now only takes years to build a billion-dollar company, where it previously took decades. This means the ways of doing business and the scopes of jobs are changing rapidly, possibly even 10 times faster than before.
The term VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is an apt description for the current business scenario. For example, “digital recruiting” is becoming redundant because all recruiting is pretty much digital today.
Which soft traits should we be looking for in talent today?
The answer varies based on role and organization, but here are some examples that apply to most:
Communication and teamwork: With the constant demands of the business world across a fragmented workforce, effective communication and teamwork are critical soft traits for collaboration across all jobs and organizations.
Openness to experience: People who are high in this trait are more adaptable to change, able to work with new ideas better, and respond well to diversity in the workplace.
Motivation and ability to learn: Possessing the hard skills for today’s job may be sufficient now but, being motivated and able to learn the skills for tomorrow’s job is what really matters.
Proactivity: An employee who is proactive is always thinking of what will happen next. He/she would take the initiative and not wait to be told what to do.
Grit: Working towards gruelling long term goals require a certain level of stamina and perseverance. Those who have grit are able to passionately pursue these long term goals, and those without it give up easily.
Taking a holistic approach to hiring
Relying on soft traits or hard skills alone may not always give you the insight you need to hire right.
For example, someone with impressive qualifications and experience may lack teamwork and thus disrupt the work culture. Likewise, looking at soft traits alone might get you the right attitude, but you may end up with a big skills gap as your business moves forward.
Both hard skills and soft traits are needed to assess the suitability of a candidate.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could accurately narrow down these candidates, even before you interact with them? The good news is this is already possible today!
People analytics tools like Pulsifi’s platform are able to gather information about candidates’ hard skills and soft skills to predict outcomes like behavior, attitudes, and performance to a job. These data points on candidates are obtained from multiple sources, including resumes, various pre-employment assessments and video interviews.
However, it is not just about analyzing and understanding a candidate. Different organizations and different roles have different requirements for success – through analyzing employees, Pulsifi incorporates these variations and customizes our algorithm when making these predictions.
What kind of traits does your organization look for in a candidate?