According to a recent report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 7.3 million unoccupied job positions in 2019. This tight labor market is largely attributed to the massive skills gap in the US making it almost impossible for companies to fill these positions. This situation is further complicated by the automation of routine jobs as industries move towards digitizing their human workforce potentially replacing human intervention in their processes.
To try and correct this anomaly in the labor market, big box companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and IBM have come up with creative ways to recruit talents as opposed to focusing on college degrees. For instance, recruitment at Facebook tends to emphasize on the skills an employee is bringing to the company instead of the title they will holding or their experience.
It is scenarios like these that have led to people questioning the type of skills—hard or soft—they need to specialize in to secure employment.
As a business or recruitment executive, how then do you see a candidate’s full potential in your current pool of candidates?
It Goes Beyond STEM…
When we hear the phrase “skills gap”, the first thing that comes in mind is STEM, meaning skills shortage in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. However, there is a multitude of other skills including soft skills.
Here is a list of 5 soft skills that every employer is looking for in 2019.
A lot has been said and written on matters communication. We even have communication coaches training people on how to effectively communicate. However, there still remain consistent gaps that leave a lot to be desired.
Depending on the nature of industry and profession, most job positions if not all require team members to interact with each other internally or externally with customers. Additionally, in the course of executing tasks, employees meet challenging situations which call for excellent communication skills if the issue is to be sorted out.
It’s on this basis that communication skills have emerged as one of the most in-demand soft skills in 2019.
Interpersonal skills can be defined as the tools used by people to interact and communicate with one another either at a personal or organizational level. In the US alone, social interaction intensive professions have continued to see a 12% growth for the last 30 years making interpersonal skills a premium.
The reason behind this stinging demand is the fact that it’s impossible to automate social interactions. Although computers with the aid of machine learning technology have been able to assume monotonous jobs and complex programming work, they are not able to adapt to the fluid nature of business operations.
Human beings, on the other hand, are able to excel and react to different situations as long they possess the right social competencies and attributes such as empathy.
Critical Thinking and Problem-solving Skills
We are living in a fast-paced business world where slight delays could risk getting overrun by our competitors. As such companies are looking for individuals who are able to identify issues and think on their toes to address problems without leaving anyone behind.
This may sound like a delicate balance to strike but being able to work with team members in solving business problems are attributes that companies would love to have and even pay a premium for it.
Project management skills come in handy when a company is looking for quality and timely outcome within the allotted budget.
Being able to effectively lead and manage a team to the very end of a project is a trend that is showing no sign slowing down.
Besides being able to lead a team from a strategic point of view, companies are looking for individuals who can replicate the same at an operational level.
Management and Supervisory Skills
Management and supervising are demanding and challenging responsibilities. As a manager or a supervisor, you are not only managing yourself but others too. You need to oversee the day-to-day operations and emotional demands of your team members and make adjustments accordingly.
The ability to effectively manage and supervise people is a critical ingredient in business today and organizations are looking for such skills.
The Best Screening and Assessment Tools
In reviewing an employee’s technical and soft skills, the interview questions and pre-employment assessment are foolproof parameters that you as the recruiter should use. Just like work samples, job knowledge tests and cognitive ability tests are good indicators of good or poor job performance.
Even better, they can be quickly and easily administered through:
Although not different from traditional interviews, the main aim of a behavioral interview is to discover how the candidate dealt with specific job-related situations.
The logic behind is to find out how the interviewee thinks basing on their past workplace scenarios by finding out how they would handle a similar crisis at work in the future. For instance, you can ask, “Tell me about a disagreement you had in your past job with a client and how you handled it?
Another advantage of behavioral interview is that it requires the candidate to think on their feet to establish whether they are giving you scripted answers.
In targeted interviewing, the recruiting officer provides the candidate with specific job position requirements and proceeds to pose behavioral questions in relation to key performance areas. A sample question for a retail manager position could be, “Could you tell me about a day none of your employees showed up. What was the first course of action, and why?”
Pre-employment tests are great tools for screening candidates. They include testing job knowledge, cognitive abilities, personality, physical and motor abilities, emotional intelligence, and even language proficiency.
These tests come in handy when companies are looking to identify candidates who are most likely to perform better on the job. They also save time and cost associated with the selection process, decrease employee turnover, and improve the morale of the workforce.
Every company needs to have a coherent recruitment strategic approach to be able to manage the ongoing changes in the labor market and bridge the internal skills gap. Although automation is mostly salient in the manufacturing industry, it’s rapidly gaining ground in white-collar jobs. As such, a good number of workers will continue getting laid off as the economy tries to absorb the shock caused by these changes.
With that said, this automation revolution will also create a new breed of jobs which will mean learning new skills. Against this backdrop, companies will have to come up with win-win solutions like on-job training to equip their workers with these new but necessary skills.
On a personal level, workers looking to stay relevant should endeavor to learn or gain the above listed and many other in-demand skills if they are to survive this holocaust.