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Skills can determine the ability to complete tasks and reach goals in your everyday life as well as in the workplace. For skills development in recruiting, it’s important to identify the skillset needed to thrive in your organization before executing a search. From there, there are strategies and techniques used to identify whether or not candidates possess those skills. 

Identifying skills for job openings in the hiring process is great, but what about existing employees? Technological advances are reshaping almost all aspects of our world as we know it. Employees need to stay on top of those changes and adapt their skills to keep up with changes. Implementing skills training is a great way to assess employees and help them continue to succeed in your organization. 

When employees lack alignment with your company’s values and culture, they often do not have the correct skillset to thrive in that organization. This creates a skills gap, where there’s a shortage of specific skillsets in candidate pools and employee. There are several reasons as to why a skills gap would exist in an organization, but with the right tools, companies can close the skill gap. 

Types of Skills

First things first, let’s define the types of skills that exist. The most common sectors of skills break into hard skills and soft skills. Although the definitions of these categories may not be widely known, the skills within each sector are. 

Hard skills refer to specific knowledge and training whereas soft skills are personality traits. Here we will dive into both definitions, highlight the differences between the two, provide examples, and show how to find/showcase these on a resume. 

Hard Skills

Hard skills are knowledge-based skills obtained through training within the workplace or education. Every job requires a set of hard skills that are specific to that industry and the daily tasks or responsibilities of the position. These skills are quantity-based and shed light on how well a candidate will perform specific job duties in the interview process. 

Here are some examples of industries and the hard skills required to work within them:

  • Tech Industry Analytics, HTML, Data Analysis, Saas, Coding, AI, Machine Learning.
  • Engineering Industry Python, JavaScript, Apache, Excel, Computer Science.
  • Sales & Marketing SEO/SEM Marketing, Social Media Usage, Outreach Techniques, Outbound Calling, Forecasting, CRM. 
  • Accounting & Finance Mathematics, Quickbooks, Analytics, Auditing, Microsoft Office. 

Additional hard skills that are in high demand include Bilingual, Database Management, Network Security, and Programming Languages. These are all traits and knowledge that are used for specific industry-based jobs and tasks. 

In the recruiting process, hiring teams will often develop a list of hard skills needed to qualify for the job. Most of these qualifications are listed to candidates so they can rule themselves out if they do not have the proper experience or training for them. In other cases, these qualifications are not listed publicly but are assessed during the interview process or taught once the hire is made. 

Soft Skills

Soft skills are personality traits that contribute to collaboration styles and company compatibility. While hard skills can determine if someone is qualified for the job, soft skills help them obtain the job and build relationships. 

Soft skills are what can create a positive work environment and company culture. Employers oftentimes recognize that soft skills are more difficult to teach than hard skills since they are based on personality rather than knowledge. Soft skills are also harder to quantitatively measure and are normally qualitatively measured. 

Soft skills are not as industry-specific, but here are some examples of soft skills based on industries: 

  • Customer Service Industry Communication, Adaptability, Listening Skills, Conflict Resolution.
  • Tech Industry Problem-solver, Flexible, Organized, Innovation.
  • Sales & Marketing Self Motivated, Time Management, Creative, Driven, Attention to Detail.
  • Human Resources Team-Oriented, Hands-On, Enthusiasm, Leadership. 

Additional soft skills that recruiters often look for in a candidate are Willingness to Learn, Dependability, Integrity, Adaptability, and Critical Thinking. These skills come more naturally to candidates than hard skills do, and although it is easier to teach hard skills, soft skills can still be adopted by employees throughout their careers. 

By being the best you can be as a human, you can become a valuable fit for any company you’re interviewing for.

Hiring New Employees-Joint Employment

Identifying Skills When Hiring 

When hiring, it’s important to identify the skills (hard and soft) that are necessary for the position and that align with your employer brand. Even when a candidate has great education and experience, they might lack soft skills which can pose a threat when trying to match the company culture. It’s important to recognize this skills gap early on in the recruiting process to avoid the spread throughout the firm. 

The first step here is to define what it is you’re looking for in a potential hire. Each industry position has a set of hard skills necessary to achieve daily responsibilities effectively. These can easily be defined by identifying the educational background, work experience, and training knowledge needed. 

However, soft skills must be determined as well. One strategy to assist here is to build a talent pipeline with potential candidates who would match these skills as well as fit in with your company’s culture. 

An important aspect to figure out is whether or not you (or the recruitment team) wants candidates who have a willingness to learn and develop their skills, or if they must already possess the right qualities. The willingness to learn and further one’s skills show motivation and personal drive. However, some candidates show quite the opposite. 

Openness to training isn’t always a trait or mindset that can be easily identified when examining an application or resume. Additionally, when interviewing a candidate, most candidates would not admit that they are not interested in training or additional career development fearing it might show a potential weakness. There are some tricks to tell the difference between a candidate who’s willing to learn and further develop their skills and one who isn’t. 

Examining A Resume

When examining a candidate’s resume there are a few things that can show their openness to training. First, you should determine what skills they already have and what skills need to be developed. Some resumes may have certifications and training listed, which would point to the hard skills required for the job. 

For example, an engineering candidate might have skills such as Javascript and Linux listed on their resume to point to their hard skills as well as soft skills such as Detail-Oriented and Time Management. The qualifications here would help the resume get through the initial “weeding-out” stages by showing the experience needed for the position. The soft skills can help the recruitment team match them up with their organization and the “big picture” personality they’re looking for. 

When it comes to listing skills on resumes, candidates often adjust their resume to match up with the job description. Hard skills will grab the attention of the recruitment team, showing specifically what their experience is. Candidates will often emphasize certain hard skills using the same verbiage as on the job description to get past Applicant Tracking Systems

In terms of listing soft skills, they can often be included in an accomplishments or skills section. The summary statement of a resume or LinkedIn profile also can point to soft skills that the candidate contains. Sometimes, employers will put more weight on the soft skills they’re looking for, as they can be more difficult to develop within a candidate. 

These examination techniques and processes can sometimes be a lot for one human resources team to handle, even those with great recruiters. Oftentimes, companies will invest in a third-party resource, such as an RPO firm to help with candidate management. 

Observing Skills During An Interview

Once the interview process starts, it can be easier to examine soft skills and explore the candidate’s hard skills. Some firms examine hard skills through a test, such as a Financial Advisor or Data Analyst role. There are several ways that candidates can show their soft and hard skills. 

To highlight soft skills, candidates might: 

  • Arrive early for the interview, to show punctuality, dedication, and dependability.
  • Maintain eye contact and ask follow-up questions to show active listening and good communication skills.
  • Answer questions that align with what’s on their resume to show integrity.

To show hard skills, candidates might: 

  • Go into detail about the experience and training listed on their resume.
  • Elaborate on technical questions related to past work experiences as well as job duties.
  • Ask follow-up questions about the technical duties to show their understanding of the position.

As the interviewer, you can examine soft skills closely by examining the candidate’s personality. Hard skills can be examined by industry and experience-specific questions as well as giving evaluations in multiple interview rounds. 

Your Job Interview-career path-Suitable Candidates

How to Examine Intelligence?

In today’s competitive market, many hiring managers are looking for multi-skilled talent that is deeply technical, highly collaborative, and with strong communication skills. Along with a lengthy list of mandatory and preferred hard and soft skills, the core requirement most employers truly seek is aptitude. Yet, depending on the role, being smart can be tricky to define and difficult to discern.

In addition, if your role requirement list is too long or expansive, you could be ruling out exceptional candidates or intimidating potential ones who screen themselves out of pursuing your opportunity. This lack of insight into the position and job description can limit your applicant pool unnecessarily and be especially detrimental for those difficult-to-fill roles.  

When technical skills are secondary to intelligence, prioritize the most important technical skills and use assessments that provide insight into an applicant’s capabilities. How you assess a candidate’s acumen is essential, so you don’t rule out those who have the ability to learn and grow into your role.

Here are two steps to make sure you get “smart” candidates into your interview process:

  • Take time to decide what your team defines as smart:
    • Is it common sense? Education level or school attended?
    • Is it the ability to make management-level decisions?
    • Is it creativity and problem-solving?


  • Build a strong interview process
    • The best interviews are those where the interviewer learns vital information about the applicant, but how often are interview questions designed to elicit that level of response?
    • Are the right people asking the questions? Better insight occurs when the people closest to the technology and process are part of the discussion. Don’t be afraid to include peers in the interview process.

Tools to Help Determine Candidate Skills

There are several tools to find candidates with skills that match your position profile and get you on track to a successful search. By providing insights and data, they transform a far-fetched profile into an opportunity that will appeal to real-world candidates and meet your staffing needs.

  • A Position Profile documents the skills and competencies you desire into one profile. This can help you define the skills you are looking for in a candidate before conducting your search. 
  • Benchmarking translates the profile requirements into resumes of real candidates who possess the identified skill set. This is where top candidates will be highlighted that match the desired skill set. 
  • When examining hard skills, a Salary Survey enables you to compare compensation by title, location, and years of experience, including data on a range of salary levels. This can help decide the appropriate hard skills for a position based on the salary awarded. 

Together, these tools enable you to assess the talent pool and identify what skills you desire within the existing marketplace. 

Skills Training for Your Employees

Now that we’ve examined how to identify the skills of potential candidates, how can you assess those of your current employees? Additionally, what can you do to help your employees evolve with your company over time? 

First things first, you need to identify what skills your current employees are missing. Skills shortage is an issue that many companies across several industries are facing. One reason for this is the technological changes in our society with evolving software and AI technology

These technologies are making lives easier, helping to take away the “boring” parts of many positions. Instead of replacing human roles, they’re aiding the human by providing short cuts and time-saving advantages. 

Sounds great, right? It is! However, if employees can’t learn and adapt to the changing technological environment, then the efficiency is not occurring and a financial threat can be posed. 

The good news here is that technical skills (hard skills) are easy to teach, as long as your employees are willing to learn new skills. This can be a tough task, especially for employees who are not tech-savvy and apprehensive to change. 

Employee Recognition — a full guide

How to Motivate Employees for Skills Training?

As mentioned previously, some employees will be thrilled to advance their skill sets and help their career development. However, others may be hesitant. It’s important to remind employees that although the technology is advancing, it’s not a threat to their jobs, but actually beneficial for their position. 

An example of technology aiding in a role could be within Human Resources. In a recent interview for JCSI’s Talent Chronicles series, Timothy Visconti talks about a hybrid technique where the machine technology identifies data in their recruiting process, and then the employee uses that data to execute the communication in a candidate experience. 

‘It’s that cycle back and forth letting the machines tell us when those signals are occurring and then letting the human interaction, bringing the human back to HR if you will, help drive the rest of that experience in that ship.’Timothy Visconti, CEO/Founder of PeopleLift

This goes to show that technology is helping human resource professionals gather candidate data, but still keeping the human interaction there. These types of hybrid strategies can help motivate employees to be more open to skills development training. 

Workplace skills training can actually heighten job satisfaction and can prevent your top employees from leaving when they feel like they’ve gotten as far as they can get within their position. By offering recurring skills training sessions, productivity and performance can be improved, and ambition can be satisfying. 

To get top satisfaction and involvement from your training initiatives, try to make them a fun, effective, and engaging experience. You can kill two birds with one stone by using these training sessions as a team-building event as well. Another option is to utilize online courses to help with remote workers. 

Overall, by assessing the soft and hard skills needed for a position in your industry to fit your company culture, you can find those candidates and help advance your employees. An effective and defined skills training strategy can help your firm succeed by staying innovative and creative.  

Written By
Bergin Sullivan is a recent graduate from the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is continuing her education as a graduate student working towards a Master of Business Administration. With a passion for Marketing, she has recently taken on a Marketing role at JCSI – a supplemental recruitment company where she has experience in both recruiting and sales.

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