soft_skills-620836-edited.pngHard skills — software competency, statistical analysis abilities, proficiency managing a network — are a necessary component of many positions.

However, in recent years, more employers have also been emphasizing soft skills. Sixty-seven percent of HR managers in various U.S. industries say they’d hire a candidate with strong soft skills, even if the person’s technical abilities were lacking, according to a report from the International Association of Administrative Professionals, OfficeTeam and HR.com.

(Conversely, just 9 percent would hire someone with strong technical skills but weak soft skills.)

The trend isn’t solely U.S.-specific. A 2014 Kaplan survey found U.K. employers also valued teamwork and communication skills over technical ones.

If your hiring process doesn’t incorporate soft skill assessment and evaluation, it may be time to start incorporating both elements.

Not sure where to start? Find out employers’ top soft skills, how to identify them and more below:

Communication capabilities are in demand

The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ research found companies viewed verbal communication as the most important candidate skill; being able to work in a team structure and make decisions and solve problems ranked second and third, respectively.

The most frequent soft skill deficits, according to ManPowerGroup’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey, are a lack of professionalism; enthusiasm or motivation and a learning mindset.

Outline what you’re looking for

Having a clear picture of the proficiencies you’d like candidates to possess will help you narrow your list down to the best options. Job site Monster suggests creating a profile and job description for each role that includes all desired soft skills.stock-photo-3d-vector-blue-tool-box-mark-1038229-958040-edited.png

Estimate employees’ current skill sets

Assessments, according to Fast Company, can help identify employees’ top soft skills — and areas for improvement. Write-ups don’t always have to come from supervisors; use these three tips to help employees submit self-evaluations.

Offer additional help, if needed 

Although hard skills are often easier to teach, training can also help employees who lack strong soft skills. Seventy-one percent of employers who offer in-house employee training programs provide soft skill instruction, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.

Incorporating soft skill assessments into your hiring process can help center your search on candidates who are the most qualified.

Talent searches, of course, also involve several other ingredients: such as measuring candidate expectations, gauging experience and determining how the individual will fit within your company culture.

If your organization is struggling to find candidates with the proper mix of soft and hard skills, or other desired qualities, read our recent blog posts on the four interview process steps you should never skip, hiring trends that can help you find robust candidates, how you can reap the benefits of passive recruiting — and creative ways you can develop internal and external talent resources.

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