Developing and Measuring Soft Skills

multiethnic Group of young business people throwing documents

In an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply,” the article quoted, “companies across the US say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem solve, and get along with coworkers.”

The article goes on to discuss two surveys: one conducted by LinkedIn and the other by the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal surveyed approximately 900 executives last year and 92% said soft skills were equally important or more important than technical skills. 89% of the people surveyed said they were having a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with the requisite attributes. The LinkedIn survey talked with 291 hiring managers and found that 58% say the lack of soft skills among job candidates is limiting their company’s productivity.

LinkedIn analyzed the data further to find that the ability to communicate trumped all else followed by organization, capacity for team work, punctuality, critical thinking, social savvy, creativity, and adaptability.

Not being able to find qualified candidates can be a time-consuming and expensive exercise. However, our consultants are able to help their clients close the gap of time and expense.

There are two issues on the table when it comes to creating the right employment match.

  1. Does the individual have the required skills both technical and soft to do the job, and
  2. What tools is the organization using to really understand what assets an individual has, so they can be put in the best role?

Our consultants use a series of personal assessments to help their organizational clients truly get to the bottom of this confusion. These validated assessments measure a new hire’s communication style and ability, their motivation, their empathy, and critical thinking skills. They are not meant to eliminate a company’s hiring and interviewing processes; however, they do provide a powerful set of information that cannot be determined by a traditional interview process. Our consultants’ clients find making the investment in the assessment process well worth it to bring the right and best people to enhance a growing team or department.

However, we believe we need to take a step back. Finding a qualified candidate with the right technical and soft skills is time-consuming and frustrating. Many of the younger people looking to join the workforce are not coming prepared, especially with the soft skills companies are challenged to find. In our technology centric culture and the changes in our education system, young people are not armed with skills such as communication, time management, critical thinking, empathy and the list continues.

The Search Institute founded in 1958 by Merton P. Strommen, Ph.D. is an organization that has pioneered using social science research to understand the lives, beliefs, and values of young people. They created a list of 40 assets (20 external and 20 internal assets) young people need in order to be productive contributors to their community and their work force. 

We have created a developmental process called Rising Stars that helps young people focus on and develop many of the assets the Search Institute suggests.

We strongly believe that if you want a better and more prepared work force, we need to start developing young people to understand what the work force is looking for!

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