More than ever, so-called “soft skills” are playing an important role in the hiring process. Recruiters are paying increasing attention to these interpersonal and behavioural skills, which determine a worker’s ability to adapt to their environment.
Still, some appear to be prized more than others. The CV-writing service TopResume surveyed 330 managers, recruiters and human-resource professionals in the United States about the most-sought social and emotional qualities in today’s job applicants.
As it turns out, adaptability is the top quality they look for. This soft skill is particularly popular with recruitment experts because it implies an ability to operate in an ever-changing business world.
Reliability and authenticity are also coveted skills, as is self-confidence. Honesty comes in fifth place among the soft skills that will help job candidates stand out when selecting CVs.
Surprisingly, the list of emotional and behavioural skills most sought by recruiters has evolved since the pandemic. Authenticity, honesty and reliability were already on the list in 2019, but adaptability was not. Back then, this soft skill was replaced by self-discipline.
Amanda Augustine, a recruitment specialist at TopResume, believes that recruiters’ interest in adaptability is linked to the unpredictable atmosphere in which companies around the world now operate.
At a time when technical skills are threatened by the digitisation of the workplace, more emphasis is being placed on soft skills in the hiring process, given that these competencies can theoretically never be acquired by algorithms. A report from Deloitte Access Economics estimates that soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs in Australia by 2030.
That’s why employers and recruiters are developing new strategies for assessing candidates’ behavioural aptitudes and personality traits, with different approaches in different sectors.
At first glance, this focus on individual soft skills may seem rather remote from corporate needs. But these skills, part of what sociologists call human capital, could be valuable allies in the race for productivity.
So suggests a report from France’s National Productivity Board last year, which emphasises the role of training and soft skills in accelerating productivity gains and “closing the gap between the most and least productive companies”.