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Soft Skills and Technical Expertise: 7 Important Hiring Tips

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Dec 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

Recruiting for the so-called "soft skills" has long been a challenge for employers, even those with large recruitment pools. The traditional methods of finding candidates have limited value here. How are you supposed to create a job description for both very specific technical needs and soft skills like empathy and successful communication? More and more often, today’s hiring managers are looking for candidates with expertise on both sides. To help out, here are seven hiring tips that can help your organization improve its recruiting efforts.

1. Know The Most Valued Soft Skill

Look for applicants who can learn. It's difficult to overestimate just how important this one simple skill is – and how rare, even in large recruitment pools. You need employees who can learn skills in addition to what they already know, and who can learn successfully, without wasting time or resources.

Typically there are two types of learning skills that new employees tend to have. Either they are good at learning hard skills and picking up technical details and new programs quickly, or they're good at learning soft skills – they can be coached into becoming better listeners, more aware of customer needs, able to see the company's long term goals, etc. If you have a potential candidate who shows one skillset, make sure they also show an ability to learn the other kind of skills as well.

2. Name Specifics In Your Job Descriptions

This is a particularly important point into today's digital landscape, where we use very specific tools and platforms. Even the newest companies have specific apps and software setups that they need new hires to understand. It's no longer enough to say, "Must have experience in WordPress." These days, that could mean almost anything. Instead you'll need to include more detail in your job descriptions. Talk about the specific vendors that employees will be interfacing with, the tools that you use daily, the ways you communicate, and more. This detailed job description should deter individuals that aren’t qualified while aligning with those who are a match.

3. Combine Inbound and Outbound Efforts

Inbound hiring is certainly easier and more time-efficient, while outbound hiring tends to bring in a more varied applicant pool with a greater possibility of finding high-talent employees with excellent hard and soft skills. Your best opportunities usually come from a combination of efforts. Create a bank of resources, descriptions, and previously interested applicants to use as a reference. This will give you a foundation to build from and improve your efficiency over starting from scratch. Also, reaching out to local colleges, tech centers and meetups can not only build your professional network, but also give you access to a talent pool that you might not have had access to otherwise.

4. Speak to Your Target Audience

Job description and interview language are important in more ways than one! We don't want to dive too far down the marketing rabbit hole, but you should always try to adjust your tone and content to speak directly to your intended target audience. If you're looking for an experience ad sales managers to lead your programmatic division, you'll need to speak in a different way than if you are looking for a team of millennials to help lead a new marketing department. Don't be afraid to change your tone and jargon from position to position to help attract the right people.

5. Offer Benefits that Candidates Really Want

This point works in tandem with our previous tip. In addition to speaking the right way, remember to offer benefits that your ideal candidates really value. Younger professionals appreciate more experiential rewards and those with strong soft skills in particular enjoy coaching and commendations. Older professionals often have very specific financial goals and programs that they are interested in. Both groups may or may not want room to advance in the company. Whenever possible, be willing to adjust to the value systems of the candidate. You’ll find similarities in industries, generational windows, and even geographics.

6. Make Time to Talk

Job interviews, like resumes, are problematic these days. It's a little too easy to prepare canned answers and put on an act for hour. To find the right employees you need to see past all this. Open-ended questions can help, but we also suggest you take time to just talk. Remember, especially in service-oriented positions, that employees will be doing a lot of this "just talking," so see how good they are. As a bonus, it's much harder to hide lack of experience or additional motives in general conversation about the industry, work/life balance, and other common topics. Chat it up!

7. Talk About Potential

Look, we can all agree that some positions are just boring. They're filled with technical requirements and may be nebulous even within the company. While this is can be expected in an evolving industry, it doesn't mean you should ignore this potential problem. Instead, embrace it. Discuss how the job is filled with potential and can be a great path to leadership in the coming years as associated responsibilities become even more important.

For more information on filling those interesting positions where technical experience and soft skills meet, contact ICS and learn how we can help!