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It's the Soft Skills That Decide Who Gets Hired

May 3rd, 2019

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"Hard skills will get you the interview — soft skills will get you the job," starts an article on the increasing focus recruiters and hiring managers are placing on communication, teamwork and the personality traits summarized as emotional intelligence.

Published on the Society of Human Resource Management website, the article explains the importance of soft skills as a hiring differentiator from the perspective of five recruiters. "In these discussions, two broad soft skill sets — communication ability and emotional intelligence — came up time and again," writes Mark Tarallo.

Every one of the five recruiters mentioned the importance of good communication skills. So important to the hiring is the ability to present your thoughts clearly, listen well and interact verbally with others, that one recruiting leader declared communication "The most important soft skill." "It's the foundation of every other soft skill," she says.

Besides communication skills, the article notes that "emotional intel­ligence has become an important attribute for candidates in the current job market." Defined in the article as the "ability to perceive another's emotions, reactions and perspective, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically," recruiter Stephanie Campbell, says she is "finding more and more interest in that skill set."

The difficulty, the recruiters say, is finding candidates with these skills. Blaming the erosion of in person communication on the ubiquity of social networks and electronic messaging, recruiter Jane Snipes says, "Communication skills are becoming seriously lacking."

Likewise, the article bemoans the growing lack of self-awareness that is lowering candidate EQ. "It's that seeking of feedback, the willingness to admit mistakes and take responsibility for actions" that is lacking in many candidates, says another recruiter.

The secret to getting the job is not really a secret. You have to have the hard skills to perform the work. But it's the soft skills that will be deciding factor between two candidates. It's those other skills, the ones in job postings that say, "excellent communication skills" and "team player," that will make the difference. "It triggers the gut-level instinct of the hiring manager and determines who will get the offer." 

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