While you may see the term “skills gap” thrown around a lot on LinkedIn, it’s more than a snappy phrase – it’s a problem so significant that it’s been identified by the US Chamber of Commerce. The skills gap is defined as the difference between the skills that candidates have and the skills that employers are looking for. The most prominent area of this issue is the soft skills gap; that is, the gap concerning skills related to personal and social behaviors, communication, and self-management.
Why does the soft skills gap appear to be growing larger?
While there are many contributing factors, a recent survey found that 60% of managers feel that candidates entering the workforce need to focus on improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Another survey reports that managers are underwhelmed by candidates’ lack of creativity and innovative thinking.
While soft skills have always been important, it is now critical for job seekers to focus on the further development of their soft skills. Here’s why:
- In the quickly-changing landscape of the post-pandemic workplace, one of the most important traits a candidate can have is flexibility. Employers will appreciate those who can switch between working models without missing a beat.
- While many businesses face financial challenges and perhaps have to restructure, employees with resilience will be highly valued. Hiring managers will be looking for candidates who are willing to stick with a company even during periods of ambiguity.
- With everybody feeling the stress of the pandemic, managing a team is more challenging than ever. To effectively lead in this time, you must have compassion, emotional intelligence, and the ability to keep team morale high.
- Since your co-workers may have an education or training focused solely on hard skills, strong soft skills can make you stand out from the crowd. Employers feeling the effects of the skills gap will be impressed with candidates who possess exceptional communication and self-management skills.
Creating long-term career success
While certain hard skills may make it easier to secure a new job, studies show that your overall career success ends up being based 75% on soft skills and 25% on hard skills. Although your hard skills will help you get your foot in the door, your soft skills will keep you in the game for the long haul.
If you’re considering developing your soft skills, there are a few ways to get started:
- Start by assessing your skill set to see where you need to focus your energy. With a thorough assessment, you will be able to make an actionable plan to improve your soft skills.
- Be open to feedback. The best way to learn and grow is by listening to those around you who have already found success with their soft skills.
- Incorporate more communication into your work life. For example, making an effort to exchange some email conversations for phone conversations can not only improve your ability to communicate effectively in a remote environment but can also prepare you for the return to in-person work.
If you’re looking for guidance on which soft skills to develop, try reaching out to an experienced recruiter. They can tell you which soft skills employers in your industry are looking for, and they can guide you through the process of making your next career move.