People Skills not Optional

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Two girls communicate sitting at the deskWhile Americans continue the search for jobs, positions sit unfilled. How can nearly 11 million Americans be without work while 4 million jobs remain open? It can be agreed that there’s a gap in qualified workers, but is it because there’s no one to fill the position or are hiring managers looking at the wrong skills all together?

Everyone has been a job seeker. Think back to the days of combing through websites and wanted ads, comparing requirements and closely examining the ways you can prove you are qualified to either take the position as posted or learn the needs requested quickly. The problem that recruiters are facing may lie in this first step.

Requirements may not be so required

While we’re thinking back to the days of looking for employment, remember feeling a little turned off by some of the language. For instance, the old “2 years experience required.” While it’s important that your team has expertise in the chosen field, should so much formal experience really be necessary? It’s probably a great idea to include wishful thinking, consider your wording.

For instance:

  • “2+ years experience required” sounds daunting and unappreciative of new comers.
  • “Previous experience appreciated” sounds so much more inviting.

It’s easy to understand a company not wanting to invest in too much training time, but consider what would be more profitable. Is hiring an individual who can bring a great attitude with tendencies to be open to learning new procedures really that bad of an investment?

Are those skills right, anyway?

Once interviews begin, are recruiters asking the right questions and looking for the right features? It’s great to have high hopes for those resumes that seem so perfectly suited for the position, but are the skills you’re seeing all that’s important to a candidate’s success?

A recent poll found that “44 percent of respondents cited soft skills – communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration – as being the most absent.” It’s great when a new hire knows what’s needed without much direction, but are they lacking in the other skills to keep success building? There’s so much to learn with the technical side of jobs, that trainers and curriculums are glossing over the people skills aspect. Without the ability to work in an environment centered on communication and teamwork, there’s really no point to having the skills to do the job itself.

Molding to fit the position

Hire for attitude, train for skills. It may be getting old to hear, but it’s definitely not a concept to forget. There’s a position that needs to be filled and that interviewee is interested in helping you.

It may seem like a lot more work and money to “help them help you,” but when you find that person who wants to fill that spot, chances are you have found someone with expectations of themselves—expectations of success and willingness to learn a craft that could better your team broaden their knowledge base.

Be attractive to your candidate

Sometimes even with the ball in your candidate’s court, you still aren’t seeing someone great come through your office doors. It could be that there’s just not enough drawing in your ideal candidate. Consider the perks your company offers. What are the incentives to be a part of your team? Do you offer great benefits or incentives?

It was reported that Evernote treated its full-time workers to bi-weekly house cleanings. Sure, not ever company can or should do this, but what exactly is your company doing to keep employees happy and incoming candidates excited?

Small gifts of appreciation for hitting goals or simply arranging team building outings or luncheons can be the difference in a down-spiraling office and a well-oiled machine.

There’s no doubt that finding the right candidate for a job is critical to the success of a team. With retention rates low and so many qualified workers out of a job, it might be time to reassess the requirements of the job. Finding a well-rounded candidate who is open to learning and attending apprenticeships may just be the best for that open seat in your office.

Do you believe there’s a skill gap? How do you see all the open jobs being filled?

Read more in Selection

Marissa Litty is the marketing assistant at Red Branch Media, a marketing and advertising firm that serves the Human Resources and Recruiting markets. Red Branch Media has grown from a simple consultancy to a full-service B2B marketing agency. Litty brings experience in event planning, design and advertising and enjoys writing about technology and mobile.
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