The Demand for Soft Skills

August has seen a growth in the number of job listings available across a range of industries, according to the BBC. In the first week, there were almost 126,000 new job advertisements, the highest weekly number since the Covid-19 pandemic began. As the economy evolves to the changes brought upon by the virus, businesses are also having to adapt to digital platforms to recruit new talent into the workplace.

With this shift, there has been a significant increase in demand for soft skills among existing employees as well as potential candidates, which can be difficult to assess, especially now when most interviews are conducted online instead of face-to-face.

Soft skills, which relate to communication and problem-solving skills are now being seen as integral for businesses to succeed in these times. Certain soft skills such as motivation, self-management, and digital literacy have become even more crucial in the era of remote working. The ability to adapt to sudden changes has also become an appealing quality to look for among new employees.

In contrast to technical skills, soft skills cannot be taught in the traditional classroom sense. Instead, they are established from your own experiences as well as emotional intelligence.  How a person reacts to a challenging situation can have an impact on how they perform in the workplace – for example, an employee that responds calmly to an aggressive customer is more likely to resolve the problem successfully compared to an employee that reacts with an equal level of emotion.

The challenge with this is that it can be difficult for candidates to showcase these talents when they are being interviewed remotely, rather than face to face. Therefore, it is essential for employers to be able to adapt their recruitment strategies to get the most out of a video interview. In a previous article, we looked at the challenges of remote recruitment.

Employers should not overlook soft skills in favour of more measurable technical skills when thinking of questions to ask. An interview via videocall is still an interview regardless of the setting, and it is a chance for participants on both sides of the screen to reflect on what they gained from the experience.  

Likewise, applicants must also be prepared to answer questions by applying their own experiences of where they have best utilised soft skills, whether they have developed them from an academic environment or from a previous employment.

Existing employees and managers should also be keen to develop these skills even if they feel confident in their capabilities. Combining technical skills and hands-on experience can help employees to become more resilient, agile, and self-disciplined.

If 2020 has taught us one thing, it is that the future is unpredictable, and the best way to prepare for the unknown is to take a proactive approach to whatever comes our way.

About the author

Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight. 

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