Clearly the importance of soft skills is not a new concept. However, as our current digital age progresses, the requirement of in-person human interaction continues to decline. Given this reality, it makes sense that the balance between soft skills and technical skills is an essential consideration in the hiring process.
The Importance of Balancing Soft Skills with Technical Skills
This concept is important for two specific reasons. First, by ensuring a candidate has a wealth of soft skills (i.e. a positive attitude, self-motivation, great communication, etc.) in addition to his or her technical expertise, you’re gaining a team member who can positively impact your company while also getting the job done.
Secondly, it’s a great measurement tool to ensure you’re making the right decision when choosing an IT staffing firm. Whether you’re in search of just one or two direct hire candidates a year or 20 contingent IT workers a month, your staffing vendor needs to be aware of how their candidates blend into your organization.
Someone with excellent networking or database or programming skills isn’t much good if his toxic negativity brings down the entire team or if he crumbles under the slightest pressure. The best IT staffing firms take the time to learn your company inside out, so they know exactly which soft skills are most important when recruiting candidates to fill your requirements.
How to Measure Soft Skills
Chances are you have some technical screening tools to test the hard skills of your candidates. But what should you be looking for when trying to discern a candidate’s soft skills? Although the details depend heavily on your company culture and team dynamic, in general you should be looking for great work ethic, dependability, confidence, positive attitudes and self-motivation.
Although you don’t want to drag out your hiring process, one of the best ways to “test” a candidate’s soft skills is simply to get him in front of your team. After the initial face-to-face interview, have your candidate meet the team, tour the office, and even take him out to lunch or dinner with a couple of team members. The deeper the interaction, the better sense you’ll get of their personality, attitude, and skills.
Additionally, make sure you’re asking the right questions in reference checks. Speak with at least a couple of former colleagues or supervisors to gain a bigger picture of how your candidate works on the job – not only on a daily basis but also in high pressure situations or within a team environment. When You Have to
Choose Between Soft Skills and Technical Skills
If we’re being honest, we know that the perfect balance of soft skills and technical skills isn’t always realistic. Most candidates lean one way or another.
So what do you do when you have two candidates to choose between? One of them fulfills all your technical requirements but has limited soft skills, and the other is slightly more limited in technical knowledge but has excellent communication, a great attitude, and is optimistic about picking up new skills? Who do you choose?
The answer once again depends upon your company and its needs. Do you need a short term contractor who can get the job done flawlessly within just a few months? Or are you looking for a long term hire who can make a difference in your company and grow as part of a dedicated team? Be clear and realistic about what your true needs are, and your choice in candidate should align.
The bottom line is that although this conversation isn’t anything new, it is becoming more essential. The balance between technical skills and soft skills is so important, especially in the IT industry. If you need a hand finding the right candidates, don’t hesitate to give us a call.