The demand to hire for soft skills is changing the ideal candidate profile that HR develops in the recruitment industry. Soft skills are highly regarded, perhaps even more important than hard skills. Forward-thinking businesses had acknowledged the importance of soft skills, however, the impact of the global pandemic and the movement of businesses switching from shareholder theory to stakeholder theory displays the more than ever need for employees to meet soft skill requirements.

Why? Because throughout COVID-19 employees that can adapt, be flexible, work with uncertainty, think creatively and remain productive are the employees that are going to influence the success of your business. The pandemic rocked the workforce and demonstrated that situations beyond our control can occur and we must be prepared for them.

As a recruiter what are the main soft skills you need your new hire to possess?

1. Adaptability and time management skills

An individual must possess the ability to adapt to their environment and work stimuli. Ideally, if an employee can adapt to the current working environment and the working situation, they will be able to stay on top of their tasks and remain productive regardless of unpredicted circumstances. Their adaptability, tied closely with time management skills, makes them a powerful force, and reassures the employer that regardless of their location they are going to get their work done on time and without exponential issues.

2. Empathy

Collaboration amongst employees is essential to a business’ success and progression. During brainstorming sessions, it is important all employees feel comfortable blurting out incomplete ideas to effectively bounce off each other’s creativity and knowledge. This is where empathy is crucial. Empathy is a necessity, it is vital an employee can understand their colleague; understand what they might feel or think, and overall understand their perspective. This enables them to relate to and support their colleague and creates a; tension free and safe environment where no opinion is dismissed, and everyone feels respected and valued.

3. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to reason and is a skill that is developed by active learners. A critical thinker is rational in determining the importance and relevance of arguments, and then builds arguments based on the rationale and inconsistencies identified. They link ideas and approach situations in a systematic way. Their main strength is being able to critically evaluate their personal assumptions and beliefs, which means they respond well to feedback and direction. The ability of an employee to think critically is crucial for a business as this skill enables them to be objective and not stubborn, it encourages learning and ensures they will arrive at the best possible outcome. Good leaders are those that can think critically and effectively communicate their thoughts.

4. Problem-solving

Bumps in the road are feared by employees and they should not be they are a learning opportunity and result in better-educated employees. Problem-solving is very closely entwined with critical thinking as employees that think critically can problem-solve. Let’s face it, problems are always going to pop up… an unhappy customer, a server down, a miscommunication between you and your supplier… whatever the problem is it has to be dealt with and faced head-on. Employees that try to minimize problems and think ahead are useful but employees that know how to handle problems and create and implement strategies to overcome them are crucial.

5. Creativity

Creativity was rated the most important soft skill employers are looking for, and should look for, by LinkedIn. Creativity is a strong workforce skill because it equips employees with the ability to innovate new ideas and solutions to problems, as well as create original and fresh content. Innovations stemmed from creativity can increase workplace efficiency and differentiate your company from your competitors. The difference between AI and humans? The ability to be creative. Those that are creative can better handle uncertain situations, and easily overcome issues due to being open-minded.

6. Communication skills

The strength of an employee’s communication skills can be broken down into five components, all of which are equally as important. Verbal communication refers to the way an employee expresses themselves and makes their thoughts, and opinions known by others. Non-verbal communication is the opposite of this and describes the non-verbal cues an employee expresses to demonstrate how they are feeling, such as facial expressions and body language. Written communication is one’s capability to compose text messages, reports, and other documentation. Visual communication refers to the ability to provide information and express thoughts through images, graphs, and visual stimuli.

Active listening is the final component of the communication skill breakdown and is included because without listening to someone your communication efforts are unsuccessful. To determine communication, skill is most appropriate you must listen, understand, and then respond. Miscommunication kills workplace efficiency; therefore, communication is key in workplace success.

7. Interpersonal skills

The interpersonal skills of an employee lay the foundation of business success. To collaborate, communicate, and create a well-functioning workplace your employee must be able to build a relationship with colleagues, and managers. Building a relationship with those you work with is crucial in developing and maintaining workplace culture as those that are more acquainted trust each other more thus forming a strong unit that overcomes obstacles and is confident in being honest with one another. 

It is true that essential soft skills are interconnected. It is true! The strength of one soft skill then influences the strength of another. Hard skills can be taught. An employee can learn how to use software or analyze data; however, emotional intelligence and someone’s work ethic cannot be taught. It can be developed, yes, but unfortunately, some individuals are better engaged with attributes of soft skills than others. Those individuals are the ones that will most benefit your business.