1. In The Know

4 Hard Facts About Soft Skills

  • June 05, 2018
  • Samantha Adler
  • Organizational Development Lead
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Long gone are the days of simply relying on a person’s resume to make your final hire decision. It’s hard enough to find a candidate who meets the basic job requirements, let alone one who demonstrates the right soft skills and cultural fit. Soft skills are a person’s ability to genuinely converse and connect with your team, problem-solve on the spot, and take initiative.

According to the Wall Street Journal, as companies increasingly automate or outsource routine tasks, the jobs left require workers to be adaptable, and take on broader responsibilities that require critical thinking and empathy—all traits that computers can’t easily simulate. Soft skills will determine who’s got what it takes to succeed long term at your company. They’re not found on a resume.  

In this blog post, we’ll review everything you need to know about determining what soft and hard skills are, how to know early-on if a candidate has strong hard and soft skillsets, and what you can do to setup both your current and new employees for success.

FACT 1: SOFT SKILLS ARE  JUST AS IMPORTANT AS HARD SKILLS

 The National Soft Skills Association defines soft skills as a complex set of personal qualities that help make an individual a positive and contributing member of any organization. Soft skills include personal qualities such as positive attitude, communication, planning and organizing, critical thinking, teamwork, and more. In a 2016 study done by Wonderlic, 93% of employers said that soft skills are either “essential” or “very important” when making a hiring decision.

Hard Skills are specific, teachable abilities that are able to be clearly defined and measured such as typing, editing, math, html coding, and the ability to use specific software. Potential job candidates can showcase their know-how by sharing their previous work experience and projects, and you can easily test them on these skills if need be.

In order to understand how hard and soft skills work together, here is an example: You have a candidate with hard skills who knows how to code a computer, but if they don’t have creativity, innovation, or the ability to collaborate with other developers, then it doesn’t matter what hard skills they have—they won’t be a reliable team member who adds value to your company.

FACT 2: YOU CAN IDENTIFY SOFT SKILLS DURING AN INTERVIEW 

Many people still hold the belief that soft skills are hard to quantify or define, but by using a standardized interview approach you’ll quickly learn how to identify soft skills early on. 

If you’re creative, how creative are you? Being able to quantify all skillsets with a structured interview approach removes the excuse of not taking soft skills into consideration.

MSH Talent Solutions successfully utilizes our very own interview process to screen all candidates. Our interview approach emphasizes the importance of taking the time to listen in interviews and one-on-one employee reviews, in order to better to understand every person’s strengths and weaknesses. 

We’ve developed a proven model that defines key questions all standardized behavioral interviews should include, and we’ll also customize this model for clients. However, there are also many common behavioral interview approaches you can use in the meantime, including: the STAR approach (Situation-Task-Action-Result), Critical Thinking Skills Evaluation, and SOARA (Situation-Objective-Action-Results-Aftermath). Using these methods as inspiration, we encourage you to take your company and build your own interview approach.

Analyzing a person’s response to situational questions are what can make or break a candidate’s chance of getting hired, so be sure to listen and plan these questions ahead of time. 

FACT 3: COMPANY CULTURE REINFORCES SOFT SKILLS 

Culture is a company’s underlying set of beliefs, values, and standards that drives how employees function and make decisions. For MSH, we’ve defined what our culture is and have processes in place to help both teams and individual employees strengthen their soft skills. 

Having a defined culture allows soft skills to be continuously reinforced, so that way when each individual department is hiring, they understand what the company as a whole is looking for as well. Companies with a good understanding of their culture, have higher performance and drive results, according to an article in Inc., that syncs up with MSH’s beliefs. 

Soft skills go hand-in-hand with people skills and allow the hard skills to be meaningful and successful. At the end of the day, all businesses interact with actual people, not just products, codes, or numbers. If you have no people skills, chances are your hard skills won’t be effective.

However, it’s also important to keep in mind, you should never force a culture within your company. The culture needs to naturally happen and start from the top, down. Everyone needs to be on board and included.

FACT 4: CONTINUOUS FEEDBACK & TRAINING REINFORCES SOFT SKILLS

Continuous training and feedback initiatives help harden skills, but also help make you think differently with your soft skills.

Every Friday, MSH does something called “Client Value Proposition,” and we put people on the spot. They’re given a challenging scenario that’s based around something they would encounter in their specific role, whether it be client-facing or candidate-facing.

One of our general managers acts as a consultant or client and then the team member has an on-the-spot conversation on how they would approach the situation. All team members observe, and this impacts everyone’s hard skills for tasks like closing deals or handling clients, but most of the conversation revolves around the employee’s soft skills, such as, how are they communicating? How are they empathizing? And how are they being strategic in handling this situation?

We highly recommend replicating this within your own business, so if there’s ever a problem or situation that arises, there’s someone to coach the team on how to handle it better. We believe in using the group setting because if all the team can hear the feedback then it’s mutually beneficial.

This proven weekly practice allows us to enforce the culture we want for our team, but also drives the soft skills that we think are important in every scenario.

Whether your company is five years or 100 years old, soft skills are what will impact your business’ overall success in the long run. We’d love to hear firsthand from you: what does your company do to support soft skill development? Or could this part of your business be improved? 

Learn more about how MSH Talent Solutions can help your company solve talent needs, contact us today at info@talentmsh.com.

MSH is an industry-leading talent solutions firm, providing strategic talent acquisition and consulting services to organizations around the world. Established in 2011, MSH aligns people, processes, and technology with overall business objectives.

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