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How important soft skills are and how to assess them

Soft skills are the abilities that a person possesses. Certain personality traits enable them to behave more adaptively in the work or social environments and also determine how they relate to others in the workplace: Co-workers, managers, customers, vendors, and anyone else with whom they may come into contact.

Characteristics such as their attitude and flexibility, in the face of some problematic situations, allow them to create a healthy environment of coexistence at work.

These qualities are highly valued by companies and, in contrast to hard skills, which can be tested and measured, soft skills are intangible and difficult to quantify.

Detecting them during recruitment and promotion processes will be vital to finding not only the most suitable candidate for each position but also the one most in line with the organizational culture and the work team of which he/she will be a part of.

Soft skills are so revered because they help facilitate human connections. They are key to building relationships, gaining visibility and creating more opportunities for advancement.

An employee can be the best at what they do, but if they don’t highlight their soft skills, they are limiting their chances for career success.

What are soft skills, and how do they differ from hard skills?

The hard skills are specific knowledge that an employee needs to perform a job and can be obtained through education, training programs, certifications, and training on the work site.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal. These are much more difficult to define and assess. These include communication abilities, listening, and empathy among others.

In the professional world, soft skills play a major role in successful resume writing, interviewing, job performance, relationship building and career advancement. As soft skills are often transferable to different careers and industries, they are crucial to excel as a leader, and team player and achieve success.

In addition to this, from a business point of view, there are other reasons why soft skills are essential:

  • They make it possible to identify employees who will not only do their job well but will also provide extra motivation and contribute to a good team atmosphere.
  • The company will be able to hire a professional for his or her potential and not only for his or her knowledge. This is especially useful for junior profiles.
  • The organization will also be able to assess whether the candidate fits in with the company’s philosophy and culture.
  • The HR team will decide to hire a new member with complete information about the candidate.

An investigation by the Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation shows that 75% of long-term employment success depends on soft skills and only 25% on technical or hard skills.

Soft skills include leadership ability, effective communication, and listening skills, empathy, professionalism, strategic thinking, and time management. Since these skills determine a person’s success and adaptability, not assessing soft skills is an important mistake to avoid.

The soft skills most in demand in the current century are:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Stress management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Storytelling skills
  • Personal Productivity
  • Critical thinking

Ways to measure soft skills during the recruiting process:

  • Using pre-employment testing to identify soft skills
  • Ask which soft skills the candidate thinks will lead to success in the role
  • Have the candidate rank their soft skills from strongest to weakest
  • Ask for work examples that illustrate their soft skills
  • Present an on-the-job problem that requires soft skills to solve
  • Observe the candidate’s physical and social cues throughout the interview process
  • Discuss the candidate’s soft skills with their references

And in the workplace, soft skills can be measured as below:

  • Internal job recognition among peers
  • Creating a strong soft skills culture in a company would be critical to creating a positive work experience, and gaining greater efficiency for both leaders and team members
  • Analyze the evolution of each competency, generating a ranking of the most recognized employees

One of the main characteristics of soft skills is that they can be trained. In fact, the soft attribute is due to the fact that these abilities can be molded, transformed, and improved. To a large extent, soft skills are strengthened every time we face any daily challenge, both at work and in our personal lives.

Constant training focused on reinforcing soft skills will make all the difference in times of crisis like these. Companies should not limit themselves to looking abroad for those who already have them.

Encouraging and promoting soft skills in work teams is a priority. This allows for maintaining productivity, fostering creativity, and creating healthy work environments, which results in high productivity.

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How do you encourage these skills and what recommendations would you give?
Stay tuned to the MBI Talent Group website and upcoming blogs to learn more about us and topics of interest from our experts.

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