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Wanted: Workers with Soft Skills

Jan. 19, 2017
Supply chain experience may land a job interview, but it's the soft skills that will land the job.

A sterling resume with experience in material handling and logistics may land a job interview, but it's the soft skills that will land the job.

According to the Wall Street Journal, companies across the U.S. are on the lookout to find job candidates who possess the right mix of soft skills, and consequently they are investing more time and resources to locate and acquire them. For example, many companies are hiring consultants to develop tests or other screening methods as well as developing a pipeline of top-tier candidates.

A WSJ survey taken last year of nearly 900 executives produced these results: 92% said soft skills were equally important or more important than technical skills, and 89% said they were having a somewhat difficult time finding candidates with the attributes they wanted.

What exactly are today's in-demand soft skills? Here are the top eight that executives cite:

  1. Good Communication Skills: Employers are looking to hire people who are very articulate when speaking but also know the importance of listening. They want people who are able to build bridges with colleagues, customers and vendors. Additionally, professionals need to be able to communicate effectively across multiple different channels such as e-mail, phone calls, presentations and social media.
  2. Strong Work Ethic: Individuals who are motivated and dedicated enough to do what it takes to get the job done are very attractive to employers. In addition, those job candidates who can demonstrate that they will give an employer their best work every day will move to the front of the line.
  3. Organizational Skills: Companies want to hire workers who can stay organized and focused on the projects at hand. This skill set helps people to plan, implement procedures and achieve goals. Organizational skills are somewhat self-discipline measures that differentiate a leader from the rest.
  4. Social Savvy: Job candidates who embrace social media are definitely in demand. It's the modern way to build new relationships with customers and prospects. Today's consumers are connecting on social media using their smart phones, tablets, laptops and every other type of web-connected display. Businesses realize that they have to adopt and adapt to stay competitive.
  5. Time Management Abilities: Hiring managers seek out candidates who can multi-task and prioritize tasks delegated while hitting necessary deadlines. They want people who are productive and know how to use time wisely. The organization of calendars and responsibilities is key to mastering time management.
  6. Critical Thinking: Critical analysis thinking boosts the ability to problem solve and make the right decisions. It is especially important to management and leadership aspirations.  Employers are mostly likely to hire and promote employees who demonstrate that they can creatively solve problems when they arise.
  7. Team-Oriented: When it comes to choosing a candidate for the job, employers consistently say they want a team player. This means someone who can put the team goals and team accountability ahead of their own individual needs. It's also important to know how to resolve conflict, make good decisions and work well with others.
  8. Flexible & Adaptable: In today's ever-changing economy and workplace, those who can adapt to new situations and changes are highly sought after. Companies want to know their people will be open to new ideas, embrace change and come through in a pinch.

Like never before, companies place high value and put much emphasis on soft skills because they realize just how linked they are to job performance and career success. While a job candidate still needs to be thoroughly qualified to do the job at hand, the range of soft skills they possess are just as important. 

Dan Charney is president and CEO of Direct Recruiters Inc. (DRI), an executive search firm for companies specializing in material handling & logistics, packaging, capital equipment and automation systems.

This article originally appeared on Material Handling & Logistics, a companion site of IndustryWeek and part of Penton's Manufacturing and Supply Chain group.

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