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As employers, do you really need all the soft skills you are listing in your job description?

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

When we talk about soft skills, we actually touch some of the most crucial abilities the recruiters are currently looking for.

Therefore, my first suggestion is to change the name and call them ‘crucial skills’.

So said, when I look at them, I see a long list of qualities, abilities, and skills that are impressively difficult to acquire and master, and it is actually strange to read job postings that ask the candidates to possess already all of them. How is it possible that young people, at their first or second contract, possess already all those qualities perfectly developed? And what about those many situations in which the current staff members are lacking the same skills the job posting is looking for? Even if we find the perfect candidate, with all the qualities, how might be their experience once hired and exposed to colleagues with only a few of those skills well developed?

Sometimes, we create fancy job descriptions because we believe they will attract the best candidates, whereas, in reality, what we obtain is to force the candidates to lie saying that they are flexible but also organized, solution-driven and self-directed, while creativity and curiosity were always with them, as empathetic, inclusive, and dependable people.

Additionally, those skills are really difficult to measure and evaluate during a job interview, especially if the interview focuses on the hard skills without testing the crucial ones.

I guess you see where I want to go. My first point is that an organization should know which kind of skills are necessary for each level, task, or assignment the staff is subdivided by, without pretending that all the staff needs the same skills. This first point makes easier the definition of training and strategies needed to improve the internal situation. My second point is that the same logic should apply to job postings, where we should be able to identify and list only those skills that are really relevant for the position we are advertising, knowing that, once hired, the new employee can be further trained as needed.

In following these two points, organizations are able to decrease the pressure on the entire hiring process, make their expectations more adequate to the real job the new employee will perform, and take into consideration the current internal situation in terms of skills already mastered by the staff, and those that need to be acquired.

To run this internal analysis and determine which skills are most useful for each position, you need a clear idea about the different characteristics of each group of skills, which I divide in basic and advanced and in self-oriented and relational-oriented.

In this way, we obtain a taxonomy of skills that is easier to manage and use to identify those skills that are really necessary to access the job and those that are more adequate for leadership and guidance.

From here, we can start planning training activities which will be tailored on real needs and expectations.

If you want to know more about this topic, contact me and I will be happy to provide further information.

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