Almost all (96%) Australian employers consider soft skills to be either more important or equally important to a candidate’s hard or technical skills, according to recruiting experts Hays.
Based on findings in the recruiter’s FY21/22 Hays Salary Guide, 81% of the close to 3,500 employers surveyed say teamwork is the most important soft skill they require in their permanent staff today.
This is followed by skills in problem solving (79%), communication (74%), adaptability (70%), critical thinking (63%), time management (60%) and emotional intelligence (53%).
What are soft skills?
“Soft skills are those crucial personal attributes that relate to how you work and behave,” says Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand. “While technical capabilities ensure you can do a job, it’s soft skills that allow someone to function well in a workplace.
“For example, soft skills ensure you can 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.
“Soft skills also distinguish candidates who possess similar technical skills. They play a vital role in the success of a job search and your long-term career progression.”
Teamwork comes to the fore
“Interestingly, while adaptability has been at the top of the list of soft skills sought over the past year, valued to ensure entire workforces shift to new ways of working, today teamwork is prioritised,” says Nick.
“Employers value an ability to work well with colleagues, stakeholders and clients to ensure common goals are met.
“Problem solving and communication skills are also sought to help organisations find creative and viable options to existing and new challenges and express and accept ideas.”
How to prove your soft skills
According to Hays, to prove your soft skills to a potential employer 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 skills.
- Know your career 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 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, demonstrate exceptional written communication skills on your profile, showcase teamwork successes in the experience section of your profile, and ask others to endorse 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.
Digital skills are essential, too
The Hays Salary Guide also shows that it’s important to upskill your digital proficiency. Most roles now require a high level of digital literacy. Employers value candidates who can leverage new technology to work more effectively and efficiently.
Data analysis skills are also increasingly valued across job functions. Advancing your digital skills could therefore provide a competitive advantage in the jobs market.
The Hays Salary Guide is based on a survey of close to 3,500 organisations and more than 3,800 skilled professionals.