Recruiting Trends in 2019: Hiring for Soft Skills or Hard Skills

Recruiting competition is fierce in today’s tight labor market. In this environment, recruiters in the staffing industry begin to place more emphasis on the value of soft skills instead of just the hard technical skills of potential candidates. Soft skills include communication, team work, problem-solving abilities and more. Hard skills on the other hand are more technical and industry specific. For example, a forklift operator license and other technical certifications that are necessary for specific roles.

What are hiring managers saying about the balance between hard skills and soft skills? Here are a few key metrics from a recent study:

recruiting trends

Next Steps for Staffing Agency Recruiters

First, looking for candidates with soft skills can help to expand your candidate pool. Hard skills can often be trained on the job while soft skills can take much longer to develop. It also typically requires some level of aptitude for it in the first place.

So how do you find candidates that have good soft skills? The first step is incorporating the right questions into your interview process. For each position that you’re looking to fill, figure out which soft skills would be well-aligned to the job’s responsibilities.

Next, identify the interview questions that will help you decide which candidates have these skill sets that you want. When it comes to soft skills, it’s common to ask behavioral interview questions that are more open-ended than technical questions. For example, to see if a candidate has good problem-solving abilities, you may ask them to tell you a time when they solved a problem on the job and how they accomplished it.

With unemployment still hovering near record lows, it’s important that recruiters find creative ways to find and place candidates. Understanding a candidate’s soft skills is one way that recruiters can expand their talent pool and fill orders more efficiently.

Read more: Want to Expand Your Talent Pool? Simplify Your Application Process


CareerBuilder, 2019 Annual Survey