A popular trend among employers cited in Linked In’s annual report on Global Talent Trends is the quest to find employees with strong technical skills, but equally strong “soft” skills. What does that mean, exactly? Let’s break down the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ in order to understand the ‘how.’
Soft Skills Are Increasingly Important to Success
According to 80% of the employers who responded to the Linked In survey, soft skills are increasingly important to company success. In the age of automation and AI, workers need to possess creativity, adaptability, and collaboration skills.
- 92% of employers surveyed said soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills.
- 89% of employers surveyed said bad hires typically lack soft skills.
What are the top soft skills sought?
According to the Global Talent Report, the collectively most-sought soft skills are:
Creativity is the ability to solve problems in original ways, and is a skill that machines can’t easily replicate. The McKinsey study on automation predicts that the demand for creativity will rise sharply by 2030 as automation transforms industry.
Effective teamwork demands skillful navigation of team members’ viewpoints, approaches to work, and reward-responsiveness. Here’s where persuasion and collaboration come into play.
Shifting skill requirements amidst the lightning pace of technological advance creates the need for adaptability and strict time management to perform in agile environments.
How are employers gauging soft skills?
Many companies have difficulty assessing soft skills, and it is one area where bias can be introduced. Companies that are working to improve their assessment of soft skills rely heavily on asking behavioral questions during the interview, observing body language, asking situational questions, reviewing projects and using tech-based assessments.
As employers strive to find better ways to accurately assess a candidate’s soft skills, they may turn increasingly to AI-driven assessments using tools such as Koru, Pymetrics and Plum.
How to Develop and Showcase Your Soft Skills
While you may not have access to tools like Koru or Pyemetrics to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses in terms of soft skills, there’s a good chance you’re keenly aware of areas that need work. Be sure to highlight your strengths using concrete examples in your cover letter, resume and interview. Ask those providing written references to describe or evaluate your soft skills and the contribution these traits have made.
Ultimately, in order to develop and showcase your soft skills, you will benefit from considering current thought-leadership in this area. If you’re thinking about making a career move, or enhancing your career trajectory with your current company, think about these attributes.
Creativity – Contrary to common belief, everyone possesses the native capability for creatively. Like a muscle, it must be exercised to develop. Practice pattern recognition, collaborate with others, challenge yourself with puzzles, and exercise your critical thinking and problem-solving skills through any means possible to build this skill. For help, check out Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull.
Persuasion – Persuasion is really just another form of communication, but one that utilizes tactics with varying degrees of sophistication. Research suggests that it is easier to persuade people when you set aside your own interests, actively listen to their concerns, and develop solutions that result from the insight gained. There are several books that delve into this topic, such as Persuasion Tactics by Patrick King.
Collaboration – Practice collaboration by volunteering for roles on teams at work and within the community. Lend a hand when you see a co-worker in need. Foster cohesion through a common cause, leverage team-members’ strengths, and encourage innovation. For great tips, read Collaboration by Morten Hansen.
Adaptability – Push yourself to be an early adopter of change. Meet new challenges head on, and learn to pivot when things don’t go your way. Move outside your comfort zone. Check out: “Adaptability: The Art of Winning In an Age of Uncertainty” by Max McKeown.
Time Management – Time management is often a “code word” for productivity to an employer. Both relate to the ability to prioritize tasks according to value. This requires artful discrimination in today’s cluttered environment. For an interesting take on developing your “time management” skills, check out the theory of doing less but doing it well. It might sound counterintuitive, but laser-focus is key to productivity: “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown.
Are you looking to accelerate your career trajectory? Contact Phoenix Partners to connect with conducive work cultures.