During the recruitment process, it can be all too easy to place too much importance on hard skills and not enough on soft skills. What is the difference between hard skills and soft skills and why should I care, you may ask?


Well, hard skills are specific abilities that can be easily taught, defined and measured. That is why we love focusing our attention on these skills when we are trying to find a new recruit, they are just so easy to identify. They can include typing speed and accuracy, web design, ability to use software programs, accounting, marketing knowledge, mathematics and reading ability.


Whereas soft skills are intangible and harder to quantify, they are the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and in harmony with other people. They are a marker of a person’s emotional intelligence (EQ), the stronger their soft skills the better they are at understanding and expressing their emotions in a healthy and productive way.


Here are eight soft skills you should look for in every potential new employee:


  • Drive and a strong work ethic. If a person knows how to do the tasks set before them, but they cannot self-motivate and have no desire to do their very best, then they will contribute the bare minimum. Motivated and focused employees are an asset that will help drive your business forward.


  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. This is one of the easiest soft skills to spot in an interview and is especially important for marketing, sales and customer service roles. A candidate who can clearly articulate ideas and who is friendly and engaging will always do a much better job than the person who makes others feel uncomfortable and confused.


  • Problem-solving skills. Someone who can detect and provide a solution to an issue as soon as it arises is invaluable, because they will ensure projects and systems will not come to a grinding halt when issues inevitably arise. They are also not the type of person to ‘pass the buck’ and leave others to clean up the mess.


  • Time management skills. Juggling multiple tasks and projects is a fact of working life, so candidates who can demonstrably show that they can manage conflicting priorities and not let things slip through the cracks are gold for any company.


  • Flexibility and adaptability. Hiring a person who is willing and able to adapt to change, such as a shifting project deadline or newly implemented computer system, will help enable your business to run more smoothly. Given the leaps and bounds happening in digital and technology, the ability to roll with the punches is essential.


  • A team player. A collaborative and empathetic mindset is crucial in every person you hire, even if they will work independently. This is because their actions and behaviours will have an impact on the actions and behaviours of their fellow workmates, which can tip the overall productivity of your company up or down.


  • Ability to accept and learn from criticism. Being able to actively listen to and take on board feedback without getting upset or angry is a clear indication that they have a high EQ and that they will make the most of an opportunity to learn and grow their skill set, which will of course benefit your business.



  • Positive attitude. While this might sound like a cliché a positive attitude will strongly influence a person’s ability to stay motivated and focused, especially when things go wrong.


The key takeaway from this is that hiring a well-rounded candidate with strong developed soft skills will result in a more productive, collaborative and positive work environment, which is vitally important for the continued success of any business.


Written by Alisa Moore, Research & Community Manager for Gaulter Russell Numero, a Rubicor Company.