When writing a job description, it’s natural and even practical for hiring managers and HR staffers to default to the basic requirements of the role: educational degrees, experience, technical skills, etc. Those elements will do the trick to get the idea across, but organizations that hope to attract dynamic job candidates need to adopt a more dynamic approach to marketing a role and their expectations of the person who fills it. A good starting point is to figure out what defines a successful employee. Is he or she simply someone who shows up on time, stays late when necessary, and completes a list of tasks? Probably not. More likely, those who shine brightly within the company walls exhibit certain character traits that make their colleagues trust them and their leadership respect and value them.
When evaluating Millennials (who now make up the largest segment of the work-force) over 60% of their managers “believe that soft skills are the most important. At the same time, only 32% of managers point to hard skills as vital, and only 7% of them put social media skills at the top of the list of what they want in their employees. These findings may seem to contradict the high value placed on the inherent technical abilities Millennials have as ‘digital natives’. But when asked to identify their top three requirements for management roles, managers choose the ability to prioritize work, a positive attitude, and teamwork skills as the basic traits that every employee needs to succeed in nearly any kind of environment.
For many years, the cover letter was the place where job seekers could highlight their soft skills. It gave them an opportunity to add some individuality to their applications and set themselves apart from other applicants. As cover letters become less prevalent as applicants ditch e-mail (and snail mail) in favor of more streamlined mobile and social application processes, hiring managers need to find more effective ways to evaluate a candidate’s soft skills such as creativity, willingness to learn, leadership skills, teamwork skills, and communication ability.