Saberr: Why recruiters need to hire for soft skills

Companies who don’t assess for cultural fit and soft skills could lose both productivity and staff. 

That is according to Tom Marsden, CEO at people analytics company Saberr. Speaking exclusively to Executive Grapevine, he warns that recruiters need to ensure that they assess candidates soft skills more.

“At the moment, most recruitment processes are too heavily focused on assessing hard skills,” Marsden explains.

“The balance needs to change. It is about 20/80 now. It needs to be 50/50. That will more accurately reflect how successful people will be in their roles.

“To say that old fashioned technical skills are completely unimportant would be crazy, but we do think that there needs to be a significant reemphasis on the balance of how people think about soft skills, and how we talk more about fit within the organisation, within the role and within the team they are joining.

“Of course there are deeply technical jobs like neurosurgery or development jobs. On the other side, there are many more jobs that require a high degree of collaboration. There was a study a few years ago which showed that 40% of jobs in developed economies require a high degree of collaboration.”

Marsden acknowledges that one of the reasons why soft skills may not be assessed is because social talent is harder to gauge than technical knowledge, but that recruiter’s source talent without the proper people skills at their, and their clients, peril.

He argues that productivity can drop while company turnover may increase if recruiters get the cultural fit wrong and don’t assess soft skills more. These companies would also have to worry about the cost of rehiring for roles where the first candidate was not a good fit. Marsden adds that this cost can be greater than if companies hire people without the right hard skills.

He explains: “If you do hire someone with poor technical skills, then it will become apparent quite quickly. It will be a short-term pain as that problem is relatively easy to resolve. However, if you hire someone who is just the wrong fit for the organisation, then it can destroy the values over a longer period of time for that organisation, and it would also be harder to identify and resolve.”

His statement comes after several organisations have noticed a lack of soft skills in their talent pools.

For instance, out of the 1,000 candidates AlldayPA interviewed during a year, only one in five demonstrated the required soft skills.

Comments (2)
Thu, 17 Mar 2016 2:37pm GMT
Claire Farley - Head
I really couldn't agree more with this article, our recruitment process is all about testing for the personal behaviours in equal measures along with competency. It's amazing how many businesses still don't see the importance of cultural fit when recruiting when all the stats show that when it goes wrong it goes wrong because of a personality mismatch. The costs to the business can be catastrophic if you don't get the fit right.
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Thu, 25 Feb 2016 3:34pm GMT
Sandra Shepherd FIRP
Recruiters assessing for soft skills used to be simple, the old fashioned method would be for a Consultant to visit the client to discuss an available vacancy face to face, have a look around the department and/or organisation enabling them to assess the personalities and employees already there and make an informed decision on Skills and Personality fit. The internet is a wonderful tool but in my opinion it should never be used in isolation when recruiting people.
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