More and more employers are discussing the skills gap trend with Millennials and what to do about it. Last year researchers at Princeton-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) reported that “Millennials may be on track to be our most educated generation ever, but they consistently score below many of their international peers in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving.” Since then, additional employer surveys released, citing more details as to what’s missing from Millennials in the workforce.
One survey reported that employers wanted applicants to have these five important soft skills: “dependability/reliability at 72%, followed by motivation (48%), verbal communication (44%), teamwork (39%), and commitment (39%).” This survey was conducted for three years from 2013-2015, and for those three years, “dependability” was the most important soft skill for all three years. Another survey asked over 450 HR Directors in China, India and the US about the skills gap and overwhelmingly eighty-eight percent believe that those with an “aptitude for people skills are worth their weight in gold.”
With all the new challenges employers face, many are looking at alternate strategies to find the better candidates to fill those gaps. We’ve compiled a list of soft skills for employers to focus on to bridge those gaps.
- Communication: Much has been written about how today’s fast technology trends has led to a more casual work environment. With the texting, social and or video chatting, we’re seeing the decline in formal communication. When recruiting, employers should focus on candidate using proper communication. If that candidate is fantastic, but lacks some of the basic common sense when communicating with a hiring manager, department head or recruiter, rethink that candidate. In the long-term, poor communication among peers or even subordinates can hurt project deadlines, sales, business objectives and corporate guidelines.
- Team: Taking time to find those individuals who work well with others is something most if not all employers are looking for. During the interview process, be sure and probe into team projects, whether the person prefers to work with a group or alone. Be sure and ask if they were a team contributor or team lead. We recommend probing for details, focusing on the language they use to describe their experiences.
- Writing: This might seem basic, but more and more employers want candidates with solid writing skills. Inc recently published an article stating, “according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 73.4% of employers want a candidate with strong written communication skills.” This need goes back being able to effectively communicate. Employers today are searching for writers, English literature majors etc.… Their goal is to hire a person who “understands communication as a whole.”
- Problem-Solving: Problem solving can mean a host of attributes such as shows initiative, creativity, resourcefulness, persistence and has an analytical mind. Employers should be focused of those attributes that are most in-line with the position. The best way to reveal a skilled candidate is to use behavioral questions that relate to your business and your job posting. We posted some behavioral questions here in an early blog post that you can reference.
Most employers have read or experienced this skills gap trend while others are still learning about it. Now is the time for companies to focus on those individuals with strong soft skills. Remember, with these basic skills, candidates will have less of a skills gap and will be more trainable if training is needed.
If you’ve found your business is experiencing some skills gap issues, try refining your hiring process to include the soft skills we mentioned. If you’re not sure where to start or would like assistance, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consult.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Ingrid Moore
Ingrid Moore is the Founder and CEO of Corporate Resources of Illinois, an employment & staffing agency with over 20+years’ experience located in Schaumburg, IL. Ingrid and her team assist employers with finding the right hire for their business. For more info, follow us on our LinkedIn Company Page, or follow us Corporate Resources of Illinois‘s Google+ page.