Soft skills crucial in the workplace, survey suggests

There is a growing belief that intangible traits – such as those associated with a person's personality – are just as important as technical skills for success in the workplace. However, how many employers really take this consideration into account in the recruitment and selection process?

A new survey from CareerBuilder suggests that the “overwhelming majority” (77 per cent) of organisations today believe soft skills are at least as important as hard skills. In fact, almost one in five (16 per cent) of the HR professionals surveyed said that they give more weighting to soft skills, such as having a positive attitude, than hard skills when gauging a candidate.

“When companies are assessing job candidates, they're looking for the best of both worlds: someone who is not only proficient in a particular function, but also has the right personality,” explained Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder's vice president of human resources.

She therefore had some valuable advice for those who may face personality assessments when searching for a job.

“Along with responsibilities, it's important to highlight soft skills that can give employers an idea of how quickly you can adapt and solve problems, whether you can be relied on to follow through and how effectively you can lead and motivate others.”

The survey goes on to suggest that a strong work ethic and being dependable are the two most sought soft skills among employers, with both earning almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of respondents' votes. A positive attitude followed close behind with 72 per cent, while self-motivation (66 per cent) was another popular trait.

The 'Are you Employable? Interpersonal skill in the modern job market' report from Hogan Assessments add further fuel to the debate, stressing that interpersonal competency is a must-have for today's workers – and most hard, technical skills can simply be taught to the best employees.

“The ability to do business depends on having a repertoire of social skills,” Robert Hogan is quoted as saying in the report.

“If candidates have good attitudes, most companies can teach them what they need to know.”