Soft Skills Gaining Importance in IT Recruitment
Nov 27, 2020
Soft Skills Gaining Importance in IT Recruitment
Nov 27, 2020

Soft Skills gaining importance in IT Recruitment


Adaptability is a priority in IT Recruitment…

IT Recruitment experts have been persuading employers to weigh a candidate’s soft skills over their hard skills when recruiting. Employees can learn technical skills on the job, while things like collaboration or creativity are often more challenging to nurture.

Until recently, there has been little focus on soft skills. Plus, in a pre- Covid candidate-driven market, it was difficult to find good candidates without adding more requirements

Now mid pandemic, the stakes could not be higher. In no time at all,  the lowest unemployment rate in recent history transform into one of the highest as the pandemic runs rampant through the economy.

The impact on recruiting has been high. Most companies are recruiting on more restricted budgets with fewer resources. Suddenly, a soft skill like adaptability is one of the best qualities a candidate can have.

Employers’ priorities have changed. Maybe it took a pandemic to finally prioritize soft skills.

Leading up to the pandemic, soft skills were always a factor for recruiting decisions, but they were not essential requirements. Traits like adaptability and flexibility have always been requested in a candidate, but not necessarily compulsory.  

In this current market, employees who are not adaptable or flexible, open to frequent changes in priorities, and can demonstrate a history of that, are not being offered the job!

So what does adaptability look like?

  • Willing to help with tasks as needed, even if someone was hired for something different
  • Taking over a colleague’s role 
  • Working on a different project than qualified for.

In today’s new paradigm, flexibility, strong communication skills, and the ability to adapt as working conditions evolve are the most important qualities a candidate can have. This is a shift in priorities that we at Langley James IT Recruitment are seeing across many sectors.

A survey carried out in July 2020 of 700+ recruiters on everything from how they were using their time during COVID-19, to whether or not they were on a hiring freeze. The results demonstrated a resilient picture during this crisis. When it came to skills prioritised in recruiting, over 60% of respondents agreed that they will need to recruit employees with skills that were not necessary pre-pandemic. These included: 

  • Adaptability (68%)
  • Communication (60%)
  • Technology proficiency (58%)
  • Resilience (47%)
  • Change management (28%)

 Why are these skills considered “new” by recruiters in 2020? Experts have been practically screaming this to employers for years to prioritise such skills.

Maybe it took extreme external pressure to change old habits and priorities. With Businesses across all sectors are facing new levels of uncertainty, we are seeing soft skills come into their own. The challenge going forward, though, will be how to screen for them.

The Impact on Screening

Perhaps another reason why recruiters have been slow to prioritise soft skills is that these skills can be tricky to measure. Employers need to standardise screening for soft skills through a mixture of behavioral interviewing and automated assessments during their hiring process to help recruit managers address and measure capabilities accordingly. Here are three best practices we at Langley James IT Recruitment have found can help:

  • Apply empathy. It’s important to screen for adaptability, but you also have to show candidates your business is adaptable and empathetic, too. While the pandemic has resulted in a plethora of candidates to the market, that doesn’t mean recruiting will be easy. Most employees want to feel safe in their place of work and know that their employer will look after them if they get sick.
  • Apply behavioral interviews. Communication is part of daily work, and the best way to know if a candidate has good communication skills is to understand how they handled situations in the past. Behavioral interviewing allows you to do just that and role-play to understand those experiences.
  • Apply automation. Automated assessments allow for reduced bias and the ability for recruiters to cast a wider net. 

It is difficult to predict whether the prioritisation of soft skills will become normalised after COVID-19, . The workplace is changing and the things that make people human —  empathy, creativity, resilience, and emotional intelligence — will always remain the greatest assets as employees.


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