Recently, I began a discussion in our LinkedIn Group about the guest post by Ray Bixler of SurveySkill entitled “Soft Skills Are Key to Making the Best Hiring Decisions.” Numerous members commented on which soft skills were required to be considered for any position in a workplace, including important skills such as communication, critical thinking, analytical skills, the ability to work under pressure, as well as necessary traits such as curiosity and compassion.
Yet Terry Barnhart, professional trainer and coach, wrote something that caught my eye. “Does the job require an introvert with high levels of empathy; an introvert with attention to detail and traditional values; or [does the] job require a high energy extrovert who can work independently yet can follow rules and regulations; or does the job require a cool head under heavy pressure to get the job done?” Without fully understanding the requirements of the job, you cannot begin to search for soft skills.
Interestingly, a recent study by the Hay Group found that recent graduates feel that soft skills are unimportant in their career success. “At university, recent graduates will have been focused on, and rewarded for, their academic expertise and knowledge, not necessarily developing people skills,” explained Melody Moore, consultant at Hay Group. “If they haven’t had the chance to gain work experience, they may not yet understand this aspect of work culture.”
A 2014 survey by Talent Q, part of Hay Group, revealed that nine in ten employers feel that with the globalization of the workforce, soft skills are essential in new hires. Yet the majority of employers state that they aren’t finding graduates with the soft skills necessary to succeed.
The survey also analyzed more than 40,000 employees worldwide, revealing that graduates have as much potential as senior managers for self-awareness, self-control, and teamwork and more potential for empathy.
“Despite what many employers think, our research demonstrates that today’s graduates have just as much potential to succeed as any other generation, both in terms of cognitive ability and soft skills. It’s up to the business to ensure that this potential is realized by recruiting and developing graduates in the correct way,” remarked Lucy Beaumont, solutions director, Talent Q.
So while the Talent Q survey shows that graduates do indeed possess soft skills, the problem may be that they do not see the importance of such skills. In fact, seventy percent said they believed they just needed to be good at their job to succeed.
Before reviewing candidates for a position, know what soft skills are required for that role. While college doesn’t teach the soft skills necessary for success in the workforce, it is essential that managers take the time to develop these skills, says Ed Mitzen, founder of Fingerpaint Marketing. Many companies insist that soft skills cannot be taught, but graduates have the potential to grow the skills necessary to flourish within the position and the company itself.
Photo Credit: Steve wilson