Recruiting for Soft Skills Doesn’t Make You a Softie

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BoxerThere’s been a lot of buzz about the extinction of the traditional resume. Professional social networks like LinkedIn are slowly but surely killing the paper dinosaur, but there’s not a whole lot of discussion as to why this is the case Currently, the job market is leaning towards a list of skills and qualifications as a means of deciding a candidate’s fit for a position, not necessarily the experience they have. While, yes, the time spent in the field is indispensable, it’s not all that’s necessary to cultivate a powerful team of knowledgeable employees. Core skills are core skills. There is no disputing the fact that, as a professional in nearly every field, candidates need the ability to communicate interpersonally and in a group while paying attention to detail.

Why exactly are these core skills more important than the amount of experience your talent pool has?

Setting Mandatory Years-of-Experience Requirements Doesn’t Work for Everyone

Plus, they don’t necessarily benefit you or your talent pool. Minimums – and maximums – damage and decrease the number of candidates. Upon looking at job boards, candidates will self-select out of the running for the position because they don’t have the mandatory “seven years experience.”

Employers who have made the change have seen a difference. Those who hire based on skills rather than experience see a 25-75 percent reduction in turnover. In fact, in the event of a career change, core skills are truly transferable to any given profession. Any professional must be able to communicate – and communicate well – both verbally and via the written word. This is where face-to-face or video interviews come into play. That interpersonal interaction allows you as a recruiter to determine a candidate’s particular set of skills through body language, tone of voice, and their attention to detail.

The Results Are Limitless

When you hire – recruit for – the hard skills dictated by a particular profession, you lose a wide range of candidates who would otherwise be qualified in soft skills. While eager to learn the hard skills of the job, these candidates are often overlooked.

It takes longer to fill a job in today’s employment market than it did just a few years ago in 2010. Creating job descriptions full of a plethora of specific hard skills and training necessary to even obtain an interview only prolongs the process. Employers can’t wait for perfection to walk through their door. Otherwise, they risk extending the time-to-fill exponentially. Even Bill Gates advocates hiring for skills rather than experience or a particular title.

Candidates with Degrees Aren’t Always the Most Educated

With schools like University of Phoenix and Kaplan University popping up all over the Internet and in commercials, more and more candidates are coming in with degrees. But 72 percent of employees are actually more concerned with the training and the skills candidates have acquired outside the walls of a classroom. Real-world experience and real-world skills training are much more valuable in the eyes of the headhunters than a piece of paper that cost thousands of dollars.

Recruiting for soft skills doesn’t mean you have problems finding talent. Hiring for these core skills means you’ve overcome the surge of degrees, the flood of post-retirement working baby boomers, and the notion that former titles and past experience mean everything in the employment industry. Communication — both during meetings and through email — is perhaps more crucial to professional success than the hard skills learned through past employment. Adaptability, keeping an open mind, the ability to multitask, and the willingness to learn are just some of the necessary core skills. Recruit for these, and your company is likely to see a reduction in turnover and a rise in employee engagement.

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.” – Bryan Mills, Taken

By Sarah Duke