Career Link: One Key to Success – Soft Skills

Have you read that a growing number of employers are talking about “the soft skills gap”? A Sr. V.P., Janette Marx, at Adecco Staffing U.S., notes that “the skills gap has evolved from being so heavily focused on technical and computer skills to ‘soft skills’.” Or have you heard this comment before, “hard skills can get you hired, but soft skills (or lack thereof) get you fired.” What are these “soft skills” they are referring to?

The typical answer is they are “people skills” like communication, your attitude, and how you interact with others. But wait, that’s too narrow a view. Just as everything else is experiencing change, the definition of “soft skills” is evolving and broadening at the same time their importance is being trumpeted.

Last summer, Laszlow Block, the head of hiring for Google turned a few heads when he said that “G.P.A’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless…we found that they don’t predict anything.” What Google looks for are the following:

  1. Cognitive ability, not I.Q., but the ability to learn, to put pieces of disparate information together, to do this in the moment, as it happens.
  2. Leadership defined as knowing when to step in and take the lead as well as knowing when to let others lead.
  3. Ownership or committing to being responsible for getting done what needs to be done.
  4. And at the same time as leading and taking ownership, also having the humility to being open to the ideas of others.

Block says they want people who will “argue like hell” for their point of view but, when faced with a valid point of view, will accept it and quickly move in that direction. These four attributes, these “soft skills 2.0” are intellectually easy to understand, yet difficult to find in potential employees.

How about you? Beyond your technical skills, how would you rate yourself on these four attributes? Your non-technical prowess may hold the key to your career success.