Soft skills could prove the difference between candidate success and failure.

The soft option.

The 2019/20 Hays Salary Guide has further illustrated the importance of soft skills for employers. Of the 3,400 organisations in Australia surveyed for the Hays Salary Guide, almost two-thirds – or 62 per cent – of those who intend to add permanent staff to their organisation this financial year want candidates with problem solving skills. Another 58 per cent want strong communication skills and 47 per cent want critical thinking skills. Almost one-third (31 per cent) of employers say soft skills have the highest impact on the effectiveness of their organisation, meaning they could be the differentiator between a successful or failed job search.

“Technical skills aren’t all it takes to get a new job this financial year,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand. “While technical capabilities ensure you can do a job, it’s soft skills that allow someone to share and discuss ideas, forge effective relationships with stakeholders, work with others to solve problems and accurately look at information to come to the best conclusion.

“It’s these soft skills that allow someone to function well in a workplace,” he adds. “They distinguish candidates who otherwise possess similar technical skills and so play a vital role in your job search and subsequent career progression.”

According to Hays, to prove your soft skills to potential employers you can:

  • Gather proof: Take every opportunity in your current role to demonstrate your soft skills. This gives you quantifiable examples you can add to your CV and share in an interview to prove your abilities.
  • Know your story: Your unique selling proposition (USP) positions you in the candidate market based on your personal strengths, skills, experience and value. Often candidates focus their USP on their technical skills, so make sure yours also spells out your soft skill strengths to show hiring managers the full value you could provide.
  • Be aware of your brand: Your collective professional online activity, such as the blogs you write, your status updates, the people and organisations you follow and the content you like, personifies your ‘brand’. Hiring managers research you online so make your brand work for you by showcasing your soft as well as technical skills. For example, use social media to demonstrate exceptional written communication skills and ask others for LinkedIn endorsements for your soft skills.
  • Use an interview to impress: In a job interview, build rapport with your interviewer, be aware of your body language and answer questions with confidence and clarity to demonstrate your communication skills.
  • Be responsive after an interview: Following a job interview, respond quickly to emails and phone calls from your interviewer and be forthcoming in opening the lines of communication yourself, such as by reaching out via your recruiter to thank the hiring manager for their time and to reiterate your interest in the position.

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