The days of focusing solely on qualifications and experience are long gone. Recruitment criteria have become more varied. Current employers cite candidates’ human qualities as crucial to their decision-making process. This is especially true in the temping market, where many companies recruit candidates without formal qualifications. Soft skills therefore take centre stage.
Human capital is key to management decisions, and has become one of the greatest assets a company can have. Employers are looking for more than from their future employees than a long list of qualifications and knowledge. Recruiters want to know whether a candidate has soft skills, so that they can understand how they might fit in at their workplace.
So how can you promote soft skills in your application? Here is some advice on how to identify and promote your human skills.
‘Hard skills’ on the other hand cover practical knowledge. While hard skills represent a candidate’s know-how, soft skills describe their personal and interpersonal qualities, and the way in which they work with others.
There are different types of soft skills. Each group covers a number of different assets that are highly sought-after by employers depending on the role and profile in question.
Communications skills refer to a candidate’s ability to interact in a social environment. They cover their ability to communicate and express themselves, work as a team or in a group, negotiate with confidence and even to lead and influence others.
Many employers look for agility in a candidate. Agility covers the candidate’s ability to question things, manage stress, be creative, adaptable, proactive and to use their initiative.
This third category of soft skills covers character traits. Companies like their staff to have self-confidence, patience, perseverance, good organisation skills and empathy.
There are many different types of soft skills. Identifying your own soft skills is not always easy, but can be a very useful way of making you stand out from the crowd.
In order to identify your own soft skills, you'll need to take a step back and do an in-depth analysis of yourself. Your human qualities are those that you use both in the workplace and in your day-to-day life, whilst practical skills are those that you use only in the context of your job. While practical skills are easier to identify, they don't really provide any information about what type of person you are. So the first thing that you need to do is to distinguish your soft skills from your hard skills.
To identify your soft skills, think about the strengths and weaknesses you have shown in response to different life experiences. Focus on your strengths, so that you can highlight them to potential employers.
Why not ask your friends and family what they think are your main character traits? You may find out something you didn't even know about yourself, which you can highlight to recruiters. It’s really difficult to properly assess yourself, so asking someone else to help will give you a more objective view of your behaviours and character.
You can also identify soft skills by thinking about your personal and professional successes in life. First, try to remember achievements which you are proud of. Think about events which are important to you, even if they might seem insignificant to others. Next, ask yourself how you were able to realise this achievement. What strengths did you use? You'll then be able to identify your most commonly used strengths which also reflect your personality.
Once you’ve identified your soft skills, you’ll see that unlike technical skills, they truly reflect the person that you are. Now that you’ve noted down your soft skills, you’ll be able to promote them in your applications to convince recruiters of your credentials.
CVs are not only about practical career-related information. Alongside your know-how, professional experience and training, it’s a good idea to set aside space for your qualities. Once you have a clear idea of your soft skills, your CV is the perfect place to showcase them.
When you talk about your qualities in your CV, try to avoid generic terms and clichés. Think about the best wording to use. For example, if you simply describe yourself as ‘dynamic’, this may not mean much to the employer. But if you’re able to link this quality to your adaptability and sense of initiative, the employer will be able to envision how you can fit into their company. Simply choosing the right words could make a huge difference, and increase your chances of landing that job interview.
It’s important to work on promoting your soft skills during your interview with the employer. The interview is central to the recruitment process, and enables the employer to find out more about the person behind your CV and covering letter. They’ll be able to find out what you have in common and whether you have shared values. Faced with a list of profiles with similar skills, the recruiter will choose the personality which jumps out at them the most.
The best way to promote your soft skills is to link them to the job that you’re applying for and the potential working environment. By putting your qualities into the context of any future duties, you’ll reassure the recruiter that you’re the person they're looking for. Be smart when choosing your soft skills, and make sure that every skill matches the recruiter's expectations. Be aware that you’ll need to be able to back up each skill with evidence. You’ll be more convincing if you can talk about how you’ve used your skills throughout your career. This will give credit to your strengths and help you persuade the interviewer that you’re perfect for the job!
Every year, temping provide opportunities in a wide range of sectors. Temps are often taken on without experience or qualifications. This means that the candidate’s knowledge is not always a priority. Of course, this doesn't mean that recruiters will just take on the first person they meet! If employers are not looking for specific practical skills, they'll often focus on human capital. Candidates without experience have nothing to lose by highlighting their soft skills, which could allow them to set themselves apart from the competition and land their dream job. Soft skills therefore take on an even greater significance in the temping sector, where recruiters don’t always put hard skills and experience at the top of their wish lists.
It is just as important to include soft skills in your application as technical qualifications. Recruiters and managers often rate the human qualities of their employees as highly as their know-how. Is therefore crucial that you can identify and promote your soft skills. If you want to stand out from the crowd, don’t forget to promote your soft skills alongside your practical skills throughout the job search process, including on your CV and in interviews. If you’re temping, professional experience is not the holy grail. Your soft skills may well be your main attribute and will be central to your applications.
Ready to identify your soft skills and start temping?