The relentless implementation of digital technology and automation within companies, the phenomenon of emerging professions and the growing dynamism prevailing in the labour market are increasing the value of certain professional skills which were not getting so much attention in recent years. Soft skills are becoming of increasing interest for talent recruiters, since they have proved to be crucial before new competitive challenges.

What are ‘soft skills’?

Although it’s difficult to define the concept precisely, when we talk about soft skills -a term from behavioural psychology- we refer to a series of attributes and personal features which have to do with, among other aspects, human interactions, learning, creativity or communication traits. They determine how a person performs his duties to a great extent. Some experts call them, generically, “multiple intelligences”.

Soft skills are innate in many individuals -currently, the most clear example are the members of generation Z-, but anyone can develop them. With perseverance and effort, mind you: “Learning how to teamwork is harder than financial calculation”, says Matías Ponce, co-manager at HR consultancy firm H-Move.

Besides, no type of artificial intelligence will ever be able to automate these professional skills, according to experts. And they’re cross-disciplinary, highly valued in any professional sector.

How relevant are ‘soft skills’ for organizations?

Soft skills already weigh in “between 70% and 80% in the final decision during a selection process, versus knowledge and ‘hard’ or technical skills”, according to Matías Ponce. A recent study by LinkedIn reveals that 57% of executive mangers place greater value on soft rather than hard skills, and that 89% of dismissals are due to “shortcomings” in staffers’ soft skills. 

Which soft skills are most demanded by companies?

Taking into account the study conducted by LinkedIn on professional competencies most in-demand by companies throughout 2019, the soft skills most required by recruiters are the following:

Creativity: ability to conceive “the solutions of the future”.

Persuasion: the key to success for every product or service, regardless of its innovative qualities, is still to be able to convince others to purchase it.

Cooperation: the increasing complexity and globality of projects brought along by artificial intelligence demands greater and more effective cooperation among members of organizations.

Adaptive capacity: “yesterday’s solutions won’t solve tomorrow’s issues”, LinkedIn remarks.

Time management: another never-out-of-fashion skill which provides great benefits over the course of a professional career.

Also worth mentioning is the study about professional skills conducted by Marcel M. Robles, researcher at Eastern Kentucky University, USA. After interviewing 180 executives, he was able to elaborate the following list of the Top 10 Soft Skills needed in today´s workplace:

  1. Communication: this includes not only oral expression or the ability to speak in public, but also written communication and listening to others.
  2. Personal and professional courtesy: organizational leaders bet on professionals with manners, capable of respecting and being kind to others, of saying “please” and “thank you”.
  3. Flexibility: in other words, employees adaptive to changes and willing to learn new skills, procedures and methods.
  4. Integrity: honest individuals, with an elevated ethical standard and values that drive them to do what’s right are being increasingly appreciated by companies.
  5. Interpersonal skills: personable, with sense of humour, self-control, sociable and empathetic towards others.
  6. Positive attitude: companies prefer to have enthusiastic, optimistic, motivational and confident people in their staff.
  7. Professionalism: business-like, dress code-compliant, etc.
  8. Responsibility: Companies want reliable professionals, that is, people who get their duties done, timely, disciplined, conscientious, willing to do well.
  9. Teamwork skills: Talented individuals prone to cooperation and development of synergies, who get along and collaborate with their colleagues.
  10. Work ethic: a broad concept that includes ability to perform assigned duties, initiative and loyalty.

The importance of ‘soft skills’ in selection processes

In recent past, soft skills were not typically part of a candidate’s curriculum vitae. The usual thing was that recruiters inferred some of them from the job interview itself and, in some cases, from aspiring candidate’s cover letters.

The paradigm of recruitment, however, has changed. It’s advisable to include a brief definition of your own soft skills in your resume, with real examples, since they’re most likely to be part of the job interview. It is best to reflect on your strengths beforehand. Some experts on labour market even recommend to adapt this list to the position being applied to, highlighting those skills more suitable to the requirements of a certain offer.

In order to have a better chance of success in a job interview, speaking naturally and confidently about the soft skills in your resume is advisable.

Despite not being detailed by candidates, there are nevertheless other soft skills of great value in job interviews that recruiters are able to detect, either during the job interview itself or other stages of the selection process. Communicative skills, emotional intelligence or the teamworking ability of the applicant are some of them.

Keep in mind that although hard skills are useful to get job interviews, soft skills are the new key to go through them successfully and become the chosen candidate.

Sources: GQ, La Nación, Factor Humano Formación, Fundación UNIR and EAE Business School

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