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HCMWorks Insights

What are Soft Skills in the Workplace

Posted by Julia Fournier on 6 Apr 2021

Soft skills are unquantifiable attributes of human character and personality that relate to work. They are synonymous with “transferrable skills” as they are applicable to a plethora of employment positions and contexts. Soft skills pertain to non-technical skills in areas ranging from leadership to personality traits.

Seven highly sought-after soft skills include:

  1. Organization
  2. Time management
  3. Adaptability / flexibility
  4. Problem-solving
  5. Feedback acceptance
  6. Teamwork
  7. Conflict resolution

Many soft skills are inter-related, such as time management and work ethic, interpersonal skills and conflict resolution, the list goes on. Ideally, these competencies would augment hard skills in a way that is desirable to an employer. When it comes to hiring, soft skills can be a key differentiating factor between otherwise technically qualified candidates.

Business Application

Soft skills are a defining factor of many workplace dynamics. According to a study by LinkedIn, 89% of talent acquisition professionals claim that when they let go of a new hire, it is because they lack essential soft skills. While it is easy to train technical skills, it is difficult to train and instill soft skills such as time management, interpersonal skills and effective communication. In other words, soft skills are an inherent part of who you are as a person and how you interact in a work environment.

While hard skills are no less essential, it does not matter how technically skilled an individual is or what brilliant ideas they have if they cannot communicate them to other people. That is why talent acquisition teams initiate multiple rounds of interviews and require references. Soft skills are nearly impossible to gleam from a resume. While time management and leadership skills can be inferred from a position title, time spent at a particular company, or acquired certifications, interpersonal skills are much more difficult to perceive from a piece of paper.

Hiring the Right Soft Skills

There are multiple methods for HR and talent acquisition teams to better understand applicants beyond the technical skills they listed on their resumes. A few of these approaches include asking personality questions during an interview, analyzing how they phrase their responses (i.e., using collaborative terms such as “we”), and gauging their positivity or passion by analyzing the tone and intonation of their voice. Another way to assess an applicant’s transferable skills is to contact a former employer or associate. References speak volumes, and interpersonal or leadership skills can make or break a recommendation.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong combination of hard and soft skills. Hiring managers must rely on their experience and all available indicators to make the right decisions.

Finding the Right Balance

HCMWorks understands that hiring a team of individuals who exhibit a balanced relationship between soft skills and hard skills is critical to meet and exceed business goals. Our team develops effective Total Talent Acquisition Strategies to help you find the right people with the skills and competencies required to do the job. To learn more about how HCMWorks can assist your company from acquisition to payroll, get in touch with an expert.

Tags: Workforce Management

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