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Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

Today’s Question: What soft skills and personality traits should recruiters be looking for in today’s candidates – and why?


Chris1. Adaptability

Adaptability is today’s key skill in a modern, technology-driven workplace. New
employees need to be able to learn on the job. Learning is the new training.

Chris Russell, CareerCloud, LLC

Katherine2. Conscientiousness

Research using the five-factor model of personality has shown that conscientiousness is highly correlated with positive job performance. Extraversion, as a personality factor, is also great for job performance, but only if it is paired with high conscientiousness, so conscientiousness is the key.

Conscientiousness is valuable in an employee because conscientious employees are more likely to set goals and create plans for achieving them. They are also much less likely to give up on those goals when the going gets tough. They are generally organized individuals and tend to have high impulse control. Conscientious individuals have higher levels of grit, too, a factor that researcher Angela Duckworth has found to be integral to success.

Katherine Street, People Flourishing

josh3. Enthusiasm

The single leading indicator of a great candidate is their enthusiasm. If someone is genuinely excited and passionate about a role, they will work harder than anyone else. Everyone wants loyal, engaged employees, but recruiters too often look only at credentials or experience. Many recent studies have come to the conclusion that the only thing that truly matters for someone to be successful in a particular position is that the person is enthusiastic about the role. You can take the most credentialed and educated person, and they can still be a terrible choice for a position if they do not have the passion and drive to succeed in that role.

Joshua Evans, Enthusiastic You!

Kyle4. Positivity

If someone has an optimistic attitude and the ability to work through the “stuff” that happens in everyday work life, they will be more endearing to their teams. They will keep moving forward, instead of getting bogged down by road blocks. Plus, your customers will enjoy them more. Most importantly, positive people are just more fun to work with.

I don’t mean “Pollyanna positivity” where everything is rainbows and butterflies all the time. I’m talking about someone who is genuinely optimistic that things will work out – someone who is regularly smiling and improving the “weather” of the room, rather than making it more gloomy.

A lot of people say “Hire for attitude” or “Attitude is everything” – well that’s the soft skill we are talking about here.

Kyle Bruss, Talent Plus

Olga5. Flexibility

Flexibility is an important soft skill for any employee. At all levels we face novel situations, unforeseen circumstances, quickly shifting priorities, diverse clientele, and a variety of colleagues. Flexible employees are able to simultaneously adapt, think quickly on their feet, promote the company’s goals, learn new skills, and develop their careers. They are highly valuable and employable because they decrease turbulence and make all business interactions more fluid.

Olga Mack, ClearSlide

Bill6. Accountability

If you hire for one skill and one skill alone, let it be personal accountability. People without personal accountability are most at risk of quickly and irreparably falling into a victim’s mindset. Once stuck in that negative loop of self-pitying thinking, it is very difficult for the mind to rewire. ‘

The person who has a highly developed sense of personal accountability believes failures are temporary states of being. They are adept at picking themselves back up after mistakes or downturns, reworking their thinking or behavior, and moving on in a positive direction.

Bill J. Bonnstetter, TTI Success Insights

Jeanine7. Communication

The No. 1 soft skill that recruiters should look for is the ability to communicate well in person. Many of our clients today operate in team-oriented environments, and candidates need to be able to communicate well in order to convincingly explain their work or their opinions to their coworkers. Digital communications, like texts and emails, now play an important role in the way we communicate, but it’s still important to have great face-to-face communication capabilities.

Jeanine Hamilton, Hire Partnership




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