Go into the Job Market... Softly.

Author:Pett, Carlee

SOFT SKILLS can be a competitive advantage for people looking to get a new job or grow their career. iCIMS has released a research report that uncovers the specific types of soft skills employers are looking for; how they evaluate these kinds of skills in potential employees; and the ways in which soft skills affect career advancement opportunities.

To compile the report, iCIMS conducted a survey among human resources and recruiting professionals and received additional commentary from enterprise employer DISH Network and iCIMS's chief economist, on the value of soft skills in a changing U.S. labor market.

Daniel Pecharich, senior manager of recruiting at DISH Network, an iCIMS customer, defines the soft skills he looks for in candidates: "We hire for three things at DISH --energy, intelligence, and the need to achieve. We believe these characteristics are innate to our employees and essential for the company's success. DISH employees are inquisitive, not afraid to challenge assumptions, and are hungry for knowledge."

Adds Josh Wright, chief economist at iCIMS: "The U.S. labor market has been growing polarized between high-skill and low-skill jobs, but common to both ends of the spectrum is the need for soft skills. Whether home health aides or white-collar data scientists, the human element is the key to many of today's fastest growing jobs."

Key findings from the report include:

* The top three soft skills recruiting professionals value most in a job candidate are problem-solving (62%), adaptability (49%), and time management (48%).

* The top three personality traits recruiting professionals value most are professionalism (71%), drive (50%), and enthusiasm (49%).

* The business areas where soft skills are more important than hard skills include customer service (67%), human resources (66%), and sales/marketing (53%).

* More than one in three recruiting professionals believe job candidates' soft skills have gotten worse in the past five years.

* Ninety-seven percent of recruiting professionals agree that colleges and parents need to do a better job of teaching kids soft skills before they enter the workforce.

* For entry level positions, recruiting professionals rank adaptability (36%) as the most important soft skill, followed by oral communication (24%) and problem-solving (19%).

* Ninety-four percent of...

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