An article in the Wall Street Journal today outlines a dilemma employers are facing in today’s changed work environment: it’s tough to find new employees with the appropriate soft skills.
“Companies across the U.S. say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with co-workers.
While such skills have always appealed to employers, decades-long shifts in the economy have made them especially crucial now. Companies have automated or outsourced many routine tasks, and the jobs that remain often require workers to take on broader responsibilities that demand critical thinking, empathy or other abilities that computers can’t easily simulate.”
The article cites a Wall Street Journal survey of 900 executives, which found that 92% felt that soft sills are as important as or more important than technical skills.
The article also cites a survey from 2015 performed by LinkedIn, which attempted to identify which soft skills are most in demand, and therefore most likely to land candidates a job. The list of traits, in order, was:
- Ability to communicate
- Capacity for teamwork
- Critical thinking
- Social savvy
We don’t think that people possessing these traits don’t exist; if companies can’t find them, we put the blame on the recruiting process as it now stands. From what we’ve seen, if 100 candidates apply for a job opening, the standard procedure is that those 100 resumes are uploaded into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and an algorithm identifies the 3 or 4 best candidates based on objective criteria programmed into the ATS before the search began. The initial resume-screening phase looks for technical skills and experience – it does not attempt to consider soft skills, and therefore isn’t optimized to find candidates who possess them.
We think the system is going to change, and young employees without a robust job history or deep technical skills could be the biggest beneficiaries. Here’s how.
A CareerBuilder survey earlier this your found that 60% of employers admit to using social media to vet candidates at some point during the recruitment process (we think the real number is higher). If a company is not interviewing/hiring candidates with strong soft skills, it’s probably because the resumes making it through the ATS to the interview stage have strong technical skills, but lack those soft skills.
Looking at candidates’ public social media can be a great way to identify candidates who do possess some of those soft skills, and the opposite. Ability to communicate clearly, attention to detail, social savvy and showing good judgment can all be evaluated for a candidate who is active online, and most candidates are.
This is good news for job seekers with strong soft skills. By sharpening your social media game, you can make yourself more hirable in an era where who you are online is likely to become an increasingly important consideration for hiring managers.
Some experts view social media as primarily a liability for job seekers, and caution candidates to keep the excessive partying, foul language and questionable commentary off of social media. That is a good idea, but we may be entering an era where clean, well thought out social media profiles can be an important asset.
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