Soft Skills : Trending Worldwide In Talent Acquisition

In an evolving employment market, traditional hiring solutions aren’t what they used to be. The emphasis on final candidate selection based predominantly on technical skills and qualifications is losing favour with employers.

PwC is the latest company to overhaul its talent acquisition strategy. In future, A level grades will no longer be used as a way of screening out graduate recruits. The prospective employee’s UCAS score will be eliminated in candidate selection. (The UCAS Tariff is used to allocate points to qualifications attained over the age of 16 and evaluate a student’s entry into higher education).

The accountancy firm is one of the largest employers in the UK. The hope is that this dramatic change will ‘drive radical changes’ in social mobility and diversity and expand its talent community by focusing on soft skills and untapped potential, rather than technical ability and exam results.

The growing popularity of the assessment of soft skills in the hiring process has gathered pace following a campaign launched by McDonald’s and backed by entrepreneur James Caan to promote their re-evaluation. The campaign claims that soft skills contribute £88 billion to the UK economy, a number predicted to rise to £109 billion in the next five years.  

This supports an earlier survey in 2014 carried out by the CBI which indicated 89% of British firms value ‘attitudes to work and character’ when recruiting graduates. Communication, being a team player, confidence and analytical skills were ranked more highly than technical knowledge of those surveyed.

Topping the Best Places To Work rankings on both sides of the Atlantic in 2014, Google adopts a similar attitude in its talent acquisition strategy. Google’s Head of People Operations looks for ‘Googleyness’ in new hires, which can be summed up as enjoying fun, intellectual humility, conscientiousness, comfort with ambiguity and evidence that prospective employees have taken some ‘courageous or interesting paths’ in their lives.

Notably, Google doesn’t consider GPAs (Grade Point Average which is the average of a student’s grades during the time spent at an educational institution) in screening candidates through its recruiting software.

Hiring for attitude, training for skill

The perfect candidate – like the perfect hiring manager – doesn’t exist. In reality it is becoming more difficult to source prospective employers who ‘have it all’.  Faced with a shrinking talent pool, employers focus on building a brand message to attract passive talent, in an attempt to find the right combination of attitude, skills and culture fit in a prospective hire.

Incorporate the following changes to streamline your hiring process and enable HR to attract candidates with the soft skills and culture fit:-

  • Create a job post that reflects the type of attitude as well as the type of candidate you’re looking for. Keep in mind that every aspect of your online recruitment strategy must reflect your culture and brand message, from social recruiting to your careers site and your job post.
  • Adjust your applicant tracking software to screen candidates, taking advantage of the different psychometric tests that are available. Choose one that enables you to screen all applicants arriving through your online recruitment channels.
  • Steer clear of predictable interview questions such as ‘Where do you see yourself in five years’ time’ or ‘what are your weaknesses?’ Instead, use competency based interview questions on the basis that past performance predicts future behaviour and attitude. Incorporate questions such which rely on a candidate’s opinion and can’t be ‘rehearsed’ such as, ‘Tell me about a time when you tried something new when there was no guarantee of success’ or ‘Give me an example of how you deal with a difficult colleague’.  

We don’t recommend dismissing the evaluation of technical and hard skills to focus solely on soft skills but as the labour market tightens, employers must seek alternative ways of sourcing the talent they need or find themselves struggling to compete on a local, national or global basis.

Introducing Advorto Marketplace

Support your talent acquisition strategy with recruiting software that incorporates the latest hiring tools. Advorto now offers access to recruitment services directly for an extensive range of vendors. Assessments, skills testing and video interviews are now available within our applicant tracking software.

Further reading:-

Authenticity : The Key To Successful Talent Acquisition

‘Fuddy Duddys’, Decent Looking Girls and Illegal Interview Questions


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