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Hard vs Soft Skills: What Employers Look For in a Candidate To Hire in 2022?

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When it comes to hiring and recruitment, very little thought is given to the employers’ perspective of things. Understanding how your recruiters evaluate can help you present your skills, abilities in alignment with their expectations. Truth be told, it is the combination of both the hard and soft skills that an employer values, and for an applicant to be successful, they need to present their skillsets in relevant ways. One more thing that many applicants often fail to realize is that just having the right skillsets isn’t enough, they need to be open and adaptive for the evolution of their skills. For example, the hard skills of a candidate can change with the advancement of technology, availability of better tools, etc. The soft skills, on the other hand, evolve with time, personal experience and bring to the surface the candidate’s real potential. Both of which are equally essential for fueling growth in every position that an employee serves in an organization. 

Before going deeper into the skillsets every recruiter wants in their team, let’s take a closer look at the mind of a recruiter. 

A Good Recruiter & Emotional Intelligence

Seldom Emotional Intelligence (El) is given any weightage – especially when we’re talking about effective recruiting. El is often defined as the ability to manage one’s and others’ emotions, reactions and influence the entire workspace. For a recruiter not only does hiring resources with higher El come with their job description, but also is a virtue they require as a recruiter. This way they can interact, participate and build rewarding networks of hiring in the long term. Among the many advantages that employees having a higher emotional quotient deliver, one of them is to have better decision-making skills.  


Hard & Soft Skills 

The hard skills comprise of the teachable abilities and can be learned in a classroom setting. These are the ones the employers often put as the primary filters – something that defines the capacity of your position based on your proficiency. The typical hard skills include:

  • Degree in a certain industry
  • Work experience
  • Understanding/depth in certain areas of your industry
  • Expertise in applying technology/framework/tools to carry out your goals.

Soft skills, on the other hand, comprise your behavior, perception, personal traits, and cognitive abilities. Since they’re more ingrained with your personality, sometimes they’re harder to quantify but all the more vital in any work position for any employer. As per the studies by National Soft Skills Association, 85% of all job successes come from sound soft-skills development. Some examples of such interpersonal skills can be:

  • Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership skills
  • Motivation

Skills That Make a Difference in Getting Recruited

Now that you have a premonition of how things look from an employer/recruiters perspective, it’s likely that you may get a clearer picture of how employers look for candidates with hybrid skills (the right combination of hard & soft skills). Starting with the hard skills, here are the most in-demand traits that employers of any industry prefer the most in a candidate: 

  • Data-driven Critical Thinking

Technology has not only changed the game of how businesses develop products and services but also redefined how customers shop. With the revolutionary incorporation of Data Science, Artificial Intelligence in every domain, as a candidate you’d require to be well-versed in the tools and methodologies to do smart work. Not only does that saves ample time for your ‘would-be-employer’ but also keeps you ahead in terms of insightful skills that help you stand out and be sought-after.

  • Multi-tasking & Time Management

No matter the industry, juggling multiple projects with different deadlines comes with the job description of every position. Employers often sort-out candidates having multi-tasking as their strengths, and prefer employees who can take account of everything they do. Especially in a hybrid work environment, it’s essential to be in sync with deadlines, updates, and other details – as the employees are scattered.

Sometimes, when working in a team, things can be sped up by clearly communicating with teammates – saving any further confusion, delays. Therefore, for a team lead/team player, it’s important not only to figure out one’s timesheet but also conveying them to others so that everyone’s on the same page.  

  • Ability To Implement Technology

Employers, in general, have a keen eye for the tech-savvy candidates, since it can be a helpful attribute if they’ve pipelines operating on different automated tools or plan to integrate such technology in the future. Having someone whose interests lie in getting thorough in such technicalities, leveraging such platforms, and accomplishing work. Furthermore, staying open to new tech tools for an employee also means being well-versed in the technology they’re acquainted with. Such traits are specifically helpful in training/screening new joiners, as well as speaking and understanding the technical jargon (and more) to become a niche expert when practices are cultivated in the right direction.  

  • Sense of Curiosity and Aptitude in Learning

One of the main parameters that recruiters often seek in candidates is the proactiveness and curiosity with which they approach their trade. For an employer, it goes without saying that having employees willing to learn, evolve and upskill – is exactly the definition of human assets in any organization. Therefore, if the candidate possesses a deep motivation to learn and explore new horizons, it can make them capable to carry out new responsibilities and even branch out to new paradigms for the organization.  

  • Reliability and Strong Communication

A candidate’s reliability is the virtue upon which the employers measure all other parameters since it links back to the very event of presenting facts on their resume. Both the employer and the candidate are dealing with high-stakes missions that can’t afford any misunderstandings or inaccuracy in disclosing information. Something that also gauges the candidate’s diligence in communication (in this case with the recruiters and the employer), willingness to uphold strong ethics, as well as to attain the best terms for everyone.

Your recruiters are always trying to look beyond your resume/cover letter and know the real you. Therefore, as a candidate, your priorities lie in emphasizing both your hard and soft skills that can be useful for your work role. For instance, if the opening is for a managerial position, you’d be required to highlight your leadership skills, problem-solving, empathy, planning, patience, and other relevant skills with adequate experience. Also, there are ways you can make your strength stand out to all your potential employers. 

– By including a ‘skills’ portion to your resume that matches with the applied job description. If there are any share-worthy accolades/recognition won in past experience for a certain position/trait, it can also be shared with your potential employer.

– Not every skill needs to be mentioned, especially when you can demonstrate it better. In your cover letter, and other business emails you can always live out your words with effective communication, approaching the objective of the correspondence with dexterity. 

– Your job interviews are the finale of your overall recruitment experience. Therefore, you can stick to the STAR response technique, which comprises of Situation, Task, Action, Result for all behavioral/work-situation-related questions. Instead of going by your gut, or showing off your soft skills, a level-headed, honest approach to articulate your role and steps taken, can give you a vantage point over other candidates. 

In a Nutshell

Now that you understand the perception of your recruiters better, one thing you need to keep in mind is that as a candidate, both hard skills and soft skills can be measured in effective ways by them. Hard skills with your right and wrong answers, soft skills with your right or wrong responses to thoughtful questions. Furthermore, many employers now take the help of powerful ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) and other tools to screen received resumes and filter through them. Therefore, you’d need to add relevant keywords to your cover letter and resumes that match your skills for higher chances of getting selected. One of the ways you can do that is by going through the job description provided by the employer and deciding upon it. 

On the other hand, for an employer, building an effective candidate recruitment network matters the most – especially when they’re looking to scale. In such cases, it’s a good call to have automated systems integrated to help and maneuver the recruitment systems as required, even with a small workforce. In case you’d like to learn more about ATS and other platforms that can take care of all your HR-related processes, here are a few that we’d suggest:

Freshteam, Melbourne, Australia

A smart HR software by the team at Freshworks, it takes care of all processes involved in hiring, employee database, applicant tracking system, time-off, employee data, HR workflows, etc – in one place. They also offer a 21-days free trial without any pre-charges for employers to understand their offered features better. 


Paylocity, Illinois, USA

Folks here provide a full-scale talent management system complete with different features of recruiting, onboarding, performance, compensation, and learning management pipelines. Their intuitive, automated tools can help employers establish an effective, error-free, time-saving recruitment process to get resources onboard. 
If you’re wondering what more you can do with HR tools, we’d recommend Breezy HR or PYPA Hire. These are talent acquisition tools that centralize and streamline all your hiring pipelines by automating all manual processes. They’re apt for businesses looking to go beyond just enrolling for ATS tools, and leverage the most of such technology. 

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Christopher Stern
Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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