How To Know If Sufficient Candidate Soft Skills Exist




Many businesses mistakenly hire and promote for work skills as opposed to contribution capabilities.  Said another way, they frequently hire for “fit” and then fire for “performance”.

Through background checks, employment applications, LinkedIn, resumes, and reference information, “Hard Skills” candidate assessment is the simplest candidate evaluation step for the employer to endure.  Those candidate information sources are the majority or entirety of how individuals are evaluated and hired/promoted within many businesses.

The outcome of that approach frequently is the employment of individuals whose “Hard Skills” strengths are outweighed by their “Soft Skills” drawbacks.

This blog article will provide you with a few of our proven methods to avoid the many drawbacks of missing soft skills, usually at many organizational levels.  Said another way, a Senior Vice President lacking soft skills will generally not have people with soft skills working for him or her for very long.



Hard Skills are functional abilities that are quantifiable and measurable. They are specific to individual position types and vary widely among position types and specializations. The Hard Skills of an accountant, janitor, surgeon, software engineer, CEO, airline pilot, artist or paramedic are different from each position type on a fundamental level. The majority of Hard Skills are taught, tested, and then either confirmed or certified/licensed.  They are what people are hired to do in terms of measurable job accountabilities and tend to be developed and refined over many years or decades.

Soft Skills are the talents related to interacting and working with other people, separate and distinct from functional abilities.  They are the talents of working cooperatively, dependably, pleasantly and productively with other people at all levels within and outside of the business.  These talents manifest themselves naturally beginning at a young age (high school) and also as the result of correction and guidance within the workplace at older ages beginning at about the age of 22.

Hard Skills and Soft Skills frequently exist within individual team members on an inversely proportional basis despite the fact that they must exist on a directly proportional and balanced basis in order for optimal business outcomes to occur.

Soft Skills can be developed rather easily within individuals when the correct methods are utilized, but it is always more beneficial and much less expensive to hire those skills in fully developed form at the front door of the business.



Some professionals mistakenly contend that Soft Skills are personality centered and not possible to change, measure or develop.  Nothing could be further from the facts.  Personality assessments do not measure Soft Skill talents because individual personalities are dynamic and change frequently, sometimes hour-to-hour.  To the contrary, Soft Skill talents must be as constant as showing up for work as expected.

We have not yet discovered any position type or title in any of the 27 countries within which we work that does not require both Hard Skill and Soft Skill talent sets.  Imagine an astronaut with endless Hard astronaut skills and few or no Soft Skills while living in a spaceship with 5 other astronauts for 3 weeks.

Soft Skills include the talents of exceptional communication, continuous learning, acceptance of responsibility, commitment to goals, continuous cooperation, consistent team contribution, rejection of business politics, continual focus on the needs of others including customers, and very high work ethic as a few examples.

Those talents are all observable, measurable and improvable, as well as highly beneficial to enterprise brand and financial results.

In summary, both talent sets are necessary within all employees at all levels of the enterprise in order for business outcomes to continually improve.



Because we have frequently been called upon to follow the trail of destruction created by exceptional Hard Skills alone, we and our clients have learned that exceptional Hard Skills are not beneficial to an enterprise when not accompanied by exceptional Soft Skills.  And usually, business leaders become concerned about soft skills only after realizing that those skills have mistakenly not been evaluated by their staffing teams and hiring managers.

We have 2 proven assessments that measure Soft Skill talents reliably and validly, with one assessment being for non-international and non-cross-cultural purposes and the other assessment being for international and cross-cultural purposes.  Please feel free to contact us on that subject at any time if you wish for this business challenge to be solved in simple form within your enterprise.

In the meantime, below are a few of the Soft Skills solutions developed by us and our clients over the last 27 years on how to know whether Soft Skill talents exist within individuals at a level beneficial to your business.  The individuals exhibiting these symptoms are assured to have many of the Soft Skills now required for improving business results in this increasingly global environment:

  • Lack of nervousness.
  • Exceptional time management and dependability.
  • Questioning to learn, instead of to challenge or correct.
  • Consistently pleasant facial expressions with steady eye contact.
  • Recognition of skills that they do not possess and also wish to learn.
  • Hybrid functional abilities (more than one knowledge/experience set).
  • You feel more energized after meeting them than you did prior to meeting them.
  • Expressions that all or most prior work experiences were enjoyable and rewarding.
  • Very rapid responsiveness with no excuses, including responses to Email and Voice Mail.
  • Inability to be distracted because Soft Skill talents disappear during times of distraction. (More Frequently Distracted = Less Soft Skills.)

We have 7 clients in 4 countries that have dramatically improved their operating margins and pretax profits during the last 18 months by doing this right.  And in 4 of those instances the clients have found recruitment and retention to now be infinitely easier and much less expensive than prior to making the improvements discussed above.

You may be assured that giving equal weight to Hard Skills and Soft Skills when determining who to hire and who to promote (and also, who to fire) will pay very large dividends to you and your enterprise in exceedingly short order.



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