Recruiting candidates with the proper soft skills for technology positions has become progressively more challenging as organizations today take on a digital transformation and newer generations continue to enter the workforce.
According a recent LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring managers across the country, employers struggle to find candidates with the right soft skills for 59% of job vacancies. Furthermore, 58% of the industrialists said that the lack of soft skills in candidates was 'limiting their company's productivity.'
Soft skills valued most in technology roles include the ability to collaborate, problem-solve, and communicate effectively. Merely focusing on experience and hard skills will leave you with a gap as these positions communicate with multiple business units to develop and implement programs and solve IT related problems both on the customer and client-facing side.
In the recent book, Bridging the Soft Skills Gap by Bruce Tulgan, the well-known author and expert on the millennial workforce says, “Soft skills may be harder to define and measure than hard skills, but they are just as critical. People get hired because of their hard skills but get fired because of their soft skills.”
3 Tips To Assess Soft Skills and Bridge Skill Gaps
1. Ask behavioral questions during the interview on their previous work experience.
This allows you to evaluate how the candidate approaches their work using their problem solving capabilities and how well they collaborate with others. Job interview questions could include:
- Describe a time when you worked together with a team to complete a project.
- What was your role in the project?
- How did you find common ground with difficult personalities on the team?
- What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
- In your opinion, what made the project a success?
2. Analyze both verbal and written communication skills throughout the entire hiring process.
In an era where communication is more often digital than face-to-face, finding this unique technical person who is wired to understand technology but socially built to communicate with humans is rare. During the interview assess their verbal communication skills by how they respond to questions.
To evaluate written communication skills and as a follow-up to the interview, consider asking candidates to solve a simple IT business related problem to that position. Have them email you with a brief summary on their approach to solving the problem.
3. Create individual human development.
When considering an applicant who is highly qualified on paper with certifications and experience, but whose soft skills are lacking, take the time to determine whether this candidate has the potential to learn them after being hired.
Soft skills are particularly difficult to teach, and extremely challenging to screen. With millennials and now Generation Zers, who are defined as the first true digital natives starting entering the workforce, HR departments will find bridging this soft skills gap more important than ever in building and evolving their multigenerational workforce.
If the decision is made that the candidate has the potential to grow in their soft skills, provide a mentor and continuously follow-up with the new employee after they are hired. This ensures the employee feels supported in their new role and has the guidance and example to follow to help nurture those critical soft skills.
Without prioritizing this soft skill gap, companies will encounter more conflicts - both internally and externally - and ultimately, the organization’s bottom line will suffer. Good employees will leave, product quality will deteriorate, and customers will seek the completion.
Align your best employee with your new hire. Modeling their soft skills will be beneficial for the entire organization. In technology, as in life, the only consistency is change. As the digital era evolves faster than our personality characteristics can adapt, prescreening talent for the right formulation of soft and hard skills is more complicated than ever.
Contact Sparks Group today to strike this balance and arm your workforce with your industry’s top talent.