Every employer evaluates promising job applicants on the basis of two basic skill groupings. The first is hard skills and the second is known as the soft skills.
In most cases a candidate’s hard skills have already been established by the resume. These skills are definite and reflective of the person’s experience and knowledge. Soft skills are typically tougher to determine.
The key to evaluating both hard and soft skills is to identify which ones are important to the company and what kind of employee you feel would truly be the best fit.
The resume may sparkle with every key word carefully positioned on the sheet like a script for a play. This can be misleading, though.
While most candidates are surely not out to mislead prospective employers, jobs are scarce. Job seekers told by experts to custom-tailor their resume to suit the details in the job description and thereby attract the most attention.
While this may not be outright lying, it can certainly misrepresent the person’s hard skills. The candidate may have dabbled in certain technical areas in college but has no practical knowledge of them. Others may have greater experience in related skills but no true knowledge about the required hard skill.
Each system and organization is different, so there’s always going to be some kind of learning curve. Although the hard skills may not match entirely, the general perception is that they can be taught.
Most systems are generally the same within a given industry. Some of the rules may differ, but the structure of the organization is similar to that of most of the others.
Recently, there’s been quite a focus on soft skills when it comes to hiring. Perhaps that’s because there is an abundance, and sometimes an overabundance, of people who have the necessary hard skills to choose from.
This comes with its own set of problems, though. The soft skills of a candidate may be entirely on point. The candidate is friendly, he’s social, and he seems like the kind of person that will get along with everyone.
Don’t let the charming nature of the candidate mislead you. While there are a handful of people that are genuinely outgoing in this way, the majority may just be putting on a show to compensate for their lack of ability.
The candidates know that hiring managers are focusing on the soft skills over hard skills so they shift their presentation in that direction.
The assumption that one may easily change technical skills is a lofty expectation. Simply put, the saying about old dogs and new tricks generally holds true.
The ability to learn and adapt quickly is rare but paramount. This certainly is far from a justification to focus solely on soft skills, though.
It’s important to keep in mind the goals of the company. You are going to want to hire a candidate that will get the job done, not the candidate who might turn out to be your best friend.