Recruiting Top Talent by Seeking Less Obvious Skills

Recently, The Wall Street Journal completed a study of 2.3 million LinkedIn profiles that endeavored to find out what the top in-demand soft skills were among professionals. They were as follows:

  1. Communication
  2. Organization
  3. Teamwork
  4. Always Punctual
  5. Critical Thinking
  6. Social Skills
  7. Creativity
  8. Interpersonal Communication
  9. Adaptability
  10. Friendly Personality

These skills, while seemingly basic seem to be crucial to executing strong work. In sharp contract, The Wall Street Journal found the skills listed below were less in demand:

  1. Business Planning
  2. Cross-functional Team Leadership
  3. Emotional Intelligence
  4. Team Building
  5. Coaching
  6. Management
  7. Analysis
  8. Team Management
  9. Resume Writing
  10. Business

We predict in the next few weeks that job seekers who keep up with recruitment trends will quickly start adding skills from the first list to their LinkedIn profiles and resumes as many sites including The Wall Street Journal have already advised them to do so. This will most likely devalue the profile search option for recruiters, but will not downgrade the importance of seeking out those less obvious skills when you are recruiting top talent.

Instead of relying on online profiles or resumes to search for soft skill keyword terms, consider finding candidates with the hard skills your job requires and interviewing them with more probing questions. What are hard skills? Business Phrases defines this as, “teachable abilities that can be defined and measured much more than soft skills.” So for instance, if you need a graphic designer, you would search hard skill keyword terms like Adobe Illustrator and then interview them to determine if they have the required soft skills.

We highly recommend open-ended questions, testing or social situations as ways to prove candidates’ soft skills. For instance, if you suspect that your graphic designer candidate may be great at Adobe Illustrator, but uncomfortable interacting with others and you are considering them for a client-facing role, throw them into a social situation like a work mixer. Allowing them to meet the team is a top way to ascertain if they will fit in with your group and will allow you to gauge their comfort level around new people.


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