Human skills are technically not considered a part of professional talent, yet even the best professional talent is futile without essential soft skills.
In a professional world of cut-throat competition and strictly performance-based assessments, soft skills might appear to be an understated requirement. However, one cannot do without them. A candidate might be programmer, an engineer, a writer or a sales person, but he/she is first a human being with an emotional quotient. Human skills are technically not considered a part of professional talent; yet even the best professional talent is futile without essential soft skills. You might be the best developer in your organization, but if you are insincere, unable to communicate well with your team, lack the ability to collaborate and fail to maintain a good equation with your clients, your technical ability or hard skills is going to get you only so far.
For long, recruiters have understated the importance of human skills while navigating through candidates and recruiting for jobs. However, this approach is gradually changing for good. Increasingly, organizations are realizing that without the necessary human skills, professional talent too has its limitations. If an employee lacks technical skills, training and experience can help improve it. However, when it comes to attitude and aptitude, these are soft skills that cannot be taught or ingrained.
Why soft skills matter?
Let’s answer this with a question. Between two employees who are equally good at their work, which one will you choose to service a client? The one who is approachable, doesn’t lose patience easily, communicates seamlessly and greets everyone with a smile or the one who often turns irritable, is inflexible and uncongenial with team members?
It is not difficult to understand why soft skills are as or even more important than hard skills when it comes to having a sustainable work environment. Soft skills include a series of personality traits that enable an individual better navigate his/her environment and handle difficult situations with grace. These human traits include social and communication skills, sincerity towards commitment, emotional intelligence, negotiation, conflict resolution as well as people to people skills. Empathy, patience, flexibility, tolerance and an ability to communicate in difficult situations without arousing tempers are a bunch of very important skill sets. Soft skills also include an ability to work upon oneself with endurance and constantly upgrade your capacity.
As a social animal, human beings spend a large part of their lives navigating through people. This is why the ability to get along with people is one of the most important factors that determines the amenability of an individual or an employee. While your hard skills will help you get a job and establish yourself, but as you move up the professional ladder you will have to muster more and more of your human skills to run efficient teams.
Can soft skills be quantified?
However, it is difficult to quantify or judge soft skills in an individual at the time of recruiting. There are hardly any tests to judge skills such as communication, anger management or even sincerity. However, if you accord the due important to soft skills, there are subtle ways in which you can assess the candidate during the entire process of recruitment. This includes keeping a close eye on the way the individual communicates, the sincerity and maturity he/she displays throughout the process, the passion and eagerness they display towards the job. If a candidate takes more than a week in responding to your requirement of submitting some documents, you get gauge a lackadaisical attitude behind it. Also important is to watch for the written communication with the candidate that gives a fair idea about the maturity of expression and sensibility of thought of the individual.
I am no fan of quantification of human emotions. However, I do want to find innovative ways to rate the existence of these emotions in a recruitment setting. As a recruiter, I do not want to be flooded with resumes from a job board like Naukri.com listing non-human or mechanical skills like years of experience, this degree, that course. In fact, I don’t even want to look at thousands of Linked-in profiles for shortlisting people. What I am looking for are the people who are actively searching jobs in the job position offered and are able to show some passion towards it.
– Rachit Jain, Founder and CEO, Youth4Work