Feb 8, 2019
Finding the right skill balance when hiring IT staff
Most professional roles require people to have a mix of technical and soft skills.
Technical skills are either learned or gained from experience in the field, like programming or experience with specific software. These skills often have a level of knowledge or certification process involved that make them tangible to demonstrate.
On the other hand, soft skills are about how you work. They can be more difficult to identify, like whether you’re a team player, can problem solve effectively or are a good coach. While soft skills are often more transferrable across industries and roles, they’re much harder to communicate.
In the IT industry, there’s traditionally been a focus on finding people with the right technical skills. But there’s increasingly a recognition that soft skills are just as important as technical skills, particularly as people progress up the career ladder. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, as more industries are disrupted there will be greater competition for roles and it’s a person’s soft skills that could swing the pendulum in their favour. So how do you balance technical and soft skills when hiring IT staff?
Look to the job description
Each role is different and some may require people to have more soft skills than others. When recruiting for a Python developer, their technical skills will probably be more relevant to the role than someone who will manage a team of developers. But for many IT roles, having the necessary technical skills will just give a candidate a foot in the door.
To identify how important soft skills are to the role, the first point of call should be the job description. This will highlight what the key requirements of the role are and what kind of skills the candidate will need. For example, if the role is required to work as part of a broader team, then collaboration skills may be important. By identifying which soft skills are important to a role, employers can determine what kind of candidate they’re looking for.
Look at the whole candidate
If a role requires a high degree of technical knowledge, it can be easy to identify suitable candidates just by looking at their qualifications or experience. But when choosing who to interview, it’s important to look for cues about their soft skills as well. How the candidate talks about their experience in their CV is one way to identify those who are good communicators.
Looking at what a candidate does and doesn’t say in their CV is another way to identify if they understand and have the soft skills that the role requires. If their technical experience is clear, but it’s not clear if they’re a team player, can collaborate or problem solve, it may be an indicator that the candidate doesn’t necessarily understand what is required of the role.
Depending on the level of the role, psychometric tests may be useful to determine if someone has the temperament and soft skills for the role. These tests can give a potential employer information about the candidate’s strengths and also help them identify areas that they may need to develop. This can also be useful to help employers decide whether a candidate’s technical skills are appropriately balanced with their soft skills.
By partnering with an agency who understands what skills you need, you can find the right candidate for the role.