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A while back, we posted a blog about the changes resumes have experienced over the centuries they’ve been used, and it really showed us how far we’ve come in terms of ensuring the necessary information is showcased in a way that allows the crucial information to be noticed right away, and to be trusted and not simply taken at face value.  

As such, it only makes sense that if resumes have and continue to be evolving with the improvements of technology every year that the ways in which employers and recruiters look at resumes have changed, too. 

Especially after the past year, you want to ensure that the employees you hire or recruit for others is not only a good fit for the position and environment, but also have the right skills sets that will allow them to endure the inevitable challenges that will arise (perhaps unprecedentedly) within them.  

And they may be well-suited in terms of having the know-how of the right software needed for the job, or the right certifications and degrees, but do they have the right soft skills that will allow them to continue thriving in their position or workplace even in, say, a global pandemic? (Just hypothetically speaking, of course).  

Even more importantly, once you recognize which soft skills they ought to have in their position, how do you ensure they have them?  

Soft skills to hire for 

It’s been said by every leadership and management expert out there: you can always teach techniques, but attitude is something someone either has or doesn’t have. And certainly, there are soft skills that can be improved upon, others are inherent to one’s personality and pre-disposition, like a person’s self-motivation or interpersonal skills.  

So yes, you can hire an applicant whose degree is not yet complete and teach them the rest of what they’d need to know to bypass the years needed to complete the degree only to get a position at said workplace, but you need to ensure that the applicant is willing and has the soft skills needed to do so in order to thrive and grow organically.  

Specifically, this article by Monster highlights the fact that with the pandemic has come the fact that many workers are pivoting from one career or position to another, and with that may come a lack of experience in that specific position or field, but that certainly does not mean that the applicant is undoubtedly not suited for the job.  

In fact, most recruiters and employers will know that hiring the right candidate is more closely connected with aspects of the applicant that are hard-wired, like their personality, rather than skills that can be taught and adapted easily.  

What’s more, a well-suited candidate may not even apply because they may think that they don’t have a chance if they don’t have exactly comparable experience, but let’s not forget about the fact that many skills are transferrable between jobs even in completely different industries. 

As well, by hiring a candidate based on their suitability for a position instead of their degree or certifications (which cost a lot of money and discriminate against those who can’t afford or don’t have access to these credentials), you can be making biased and unfair hiring practices that don’t exercise equity.  

So, why not take the lead and express in your job posting what specific traits you’re looking for in a candidate and where these traits will come across in the position (i.e., resilience, self-motivation, a go-getter attitude, comfort with conflict in a high-pressure sales position)? 

These skills include but are certainly not limited to: 

1. Communication 

It’s inevitable for your employees to have to communicate with someone with whom they’re not exactly simpatico with 100 percent of the time, so sharp communication skills are crucial to ensuring nothing is misleading or lost in translation.  

Great communicators tend to have tangible skills in language or logistics, and can recognize how to simplify, condense, and add specific examples to their communications in order to ensure all parties are on the same page.  

This is an easy one to spot in an interview, though if it’s imperative to the position, the candidate should know to place this on their resume to show they’re paying close attention to the specifics asked for on the posting. This is also their way of communicating with you that they’ve read and are responding to what is asked of them in this job.   

2. Collaboration 

Collaboration is more than just the ability to work with others; it’s also how well a worker leverages the use and skills of their colleagues, and whether or not they’re able to work as an equal team member in situations where group work is necessary and beneficial for getting the job done as efficiently as possible.  

This may be indicated through both a person’s team orientation and interpersonal skills—knowing how to leverage their team members also comes down to being able to ask them for their help and expertise in doing a task. As well, this can be determined by questions that tackle how they may go about completing a task they don’t have all the necessary resources or knowledge to complete. You can also ask them about experiences in the past where they’ve found difficulty collaborating with others, and how they’ve come about resolving this; it’s not a trick question, they should have experienced some difficulty at some point, but they should also have been able to resolve it with their coworkers in a timely manner.  

3. Critical thinking 

Critical thinking is something that is imperative to almost every position out there. It addresses how to solve problems by synthesizing information in a way that extends beyond common knowledge.  

If the applicant had a challenge arise, would they be able to solve it independently if need be? Would they need someone else’s guidance or approval, or could they logically find an effective solution based on the information provided?  

This is especially important for making critical decisions that are timely or may otherwise be influenced by emotions; it’s important in positions that require logic and reasoning to make decisions are handled in such a way, and as such, require someone with those skills. And while some say that critical thinking can be learned to a degree, it for the most part is considered a part of one’s personality, so looking for a person who already has these skills is vital.  

4. Interpersonal skills 

Having interpersonal skills goes far beyond what most expect; it’s not just working well with others, but rather, treating others with empathy and building trust in one another. If the position you’re hiring for is a higher up position, this means your ideal candidate will have the necessary skills to both maintain and utilize their hierarchical status appropriately without abusing their position of power. 

This means creating meaningful relationships between themselves and others both within and outside of the company and ensuring that those beneath them in status can come to them with personal matters that may affect their work and feel respected. 

As well, this means your candidate should be able to contribute meaningfully to the team to create an open, welcoming, and engaging environment where other workers are happy and inspired to work every day. This can be as simple as making friends with your coworkers to engage in healthy and respectful personal discussions during breaks.  

Interpersonal skills can be measured in our very own Packfinder assessment under the category “people orientation” (in this case, the sliding scale ranges from “very sociable” to “builds relationships slowly”).  

Again, each of the opposite ends of the interpersonal scale are not better or worse than the other, it’s simply to which degree one has interpersonal skills, and the ways in which they build interpersonal skills (cautiously and slowly, or easily and comfortably).  

However, this can be crucial to look for in positions that demand a personality that is naturally very sociable and empathizing right from the get-go.  

5. Proactivity 

Being proactive is a huge must these days especially for those working from home or on flexible work hours. Not only do these kinds of workers have to be self-regulating with their work (i.e., finding tasks to do to, and not waiting for work to find them), they further have to be self-motivated.  

And while no one is going to describe themselves as “lazy” in their job interview, there are better, more tangible ways of recognizing when an applicant is truly self-motivated and can regulate their work independently from others supervising or working alongside them.  

Personality tests are great for measuring these kinds of skills. For example, Workwolf’s exclusive Packfinder assessment measures a person’s self-management skills on a sliding scale based on psychometrics (and it’s eerily accurate).  

Because the questions are asked in various ways and are positioned on a scale of relatability with certain keywords that are indicative of one end or the other in one’s relation to a personality trait (with the example of “very proactive” and “responsive” being at opposite ends of the self-management scale), users’ answers don’t simply say they are or aren’t proactive in their work, but rather, how proactive they are and how they go about their tasks in the workplace.  

While these skills are certainly not comprehensive, they’re a great starting point, and provide a lot of insights that you can gather easily from an applicant—namely, through straight-forward interview processes and Packfinder results. But how do you find those necessary skills in your long list of applicants? 

Take the lead 

You can start by taking the lead and hiring based on these soft skills in addition to your standard musts. In fact, you may surprise yourself by finding better luck in being more open-minded and investigating the candidates you would’ve otherwise dismissed if they didn’t tick every single one of the boxes you’re looking to check off in your filtering process.  

In fact, from a survey conducted by LinkedIn, the amount of hiring managers who are asking for 4-year degrees has gone up 20% in the past two years. In addition, there has also been an increase in companies who are taking training into their own hands to ensure their employees are taught to their standards and receive something valuable from their company to perhaps keep them for longer.  

“Skills-based hiring is relevant to any job” – Beth Cobert, CEO of Skillful. 

You can also make your hiring practices more equitable by looking specifically for soft skills that are not specific to privilege or other advantages. In your job descriptions, ask specifically for the soft skills necessary for the position within the context of its usage.  

Then, when you’ve collected a good number of resumes, start filtering based on those soft skills you asked for. 

Filter using benchmarks 

The best way to ensure that the candidates you’re looking seriously at have what you need is to test it.  

So, instead of nixing the first round of candidates based on whether or not they have a four-year degree or X amount of years of experience in the field at hand, try sorting your candidate by the skills needed to succeed. 

As an employer on the Workwolf network—which is free to join might I add—you can invite all job applicants to complete a free Packfinder assessment and from there, you can set benchmarks and automate your filtration process to find the best candidates who most closely fit the bill. 

Packfinder, supported and created by Self Management Group, is our complementary psychometric assessment that candidates can take to measure their strengths, natural pre-dispositions, and where they rank on sliding scales of soft skills of one kind or another.

In addition, this assessment can provide insights into which positions they’re best suited for and the tools and resources needed to start their careers in the fields they’re matched for. 

You can view and store applicant Packfinder results by simply sending them a request to take Packfinder—once they have completed the assessment, you will immediately have access to view their full reports in real-time.

Additionally, the applicants get to hang onto their own results as well, so even if they’re not chosen for a position with you at the time, they still walk away with a priceless asset they can use in their further job search.  

Try it out for yourself by creating a free Workwolf business account to collect your applicants’ Packfinder results and filter them by creating unique benchmarks that look for specific skills like ones mentioned above. 

Conclusion 

Making hiring decisions based on a person’s personality and soft skills are just as important, if not more important than most hard skills—most hard skills these days are being taken on by the organization to train to regulate standards in the practice and develop their employees’ connections with the company. Soft skills, while often overlooked in most traditional hiring cycles, can be indicative of a candidate’s performance in the position at hand, and can showcase where a person may struggle or thrive with the work given.  

Benchmarking is a great way to filter applicants to find those with the right soft skills for the position you’re hiring for and provides an equitable approach to hiring unbiased to race, religion, gender, socioeconomic standing and disability.  

If you’re looking for a better, more efficient way to filter your candidates, try setting up benchmarks within the Workwolf business platform and send your next applicant pool the Packfinder assessment for free.