Build a Stronger Workforce by Hiring for Soft Skills
When businesses are struggling to find qualified workers, it becomes easy for them to focus on a candidate’s hard skills and overlook their soft skills.
Many people have heard these terms before but aren’t quite sure what makes them different. Hard skills can be described as technical skills needed to do a specific job, while soft skills—sometimes called transferable or durable skills—are traits and behaviors that influence how an individual works and relates to others.
As Greg Sizemore, Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development at Associated Builders and Contractors, said to U.S. nonprofit America Succeeds, “The technical skills of today’s craft professionals are second to none, but it’s absolutely essential that they have the durable skills to be able to contribute and succeed in this dynamic workforce.”
In fact, a recent study found that there’s a direct link between soft skills training and outcomes like productivity and employee retention. That’s why PeopleReady Skilled Trades looks for the following soft skills throughout our entire recruiting process.
To deliver projects on schedule and on budget, you need tradespeople who show up on-site, on time and ready to work. A 2022 global report from Monster showed dependability was one of the most sought after—but hardest to find—soft skills for blue-collar employers, so it’s a great quality to have at the top of your list.
To learn more about the candidate’s dependability, ask how their family and friends describe them. Are they someone that others rely on often? Do they honor their commitments? How do they manage conflicts between their personal and work schedules? The answers to these questions will give you a good insight into how an individual may act on the job.
With a variety of trades working on-site at once, along with a wide range of hazards, good communication is essential for job site safety. Communication also builds trust and strong relationships, which support productivity and job satisfaction among workers. So, it’s not surprising communication bubbled to the top of the most desired soft skills in a recent job postings analysis by PeopleReady.
How do you know whether a new hire may be a good communicator? Give them a scenario they may face on-site and ask them how they would explain it to their supervisor. Make the situation more realistic by role-playing the conversation. Look for whether they can explain what is going on clearly and with enough detail to resolve the issue.
Tradespeople need to solve problems daily. From issues with equipment and materials to unexpected site conditions and other circumstances, tough problems arise all the time. Workers that face challenges head-on and identify the right course of action are invaluable—especially when they combine creative thinking and logic to produce solutions.
To assess a job candidate’s problem-solving skills, give them a situation that may arise and ask how they would deal with the problem. Do they confidently propose a solution, or do they seem a bit lost and unsure of what to do? If they seem unsure, do they at least know how to reach out to someone who can help them?
Few projects are one-person jobs. Job sites consistently demand teamwork between tradespeople, suppliers, safety personnel, inspectors, customer representatives and others. So, instead of siloed information and a single-minded focus, workers who share information and see their contributions as part of a common goal can help improve quality and avoid project delays.
How can you tell if someone will contribute to collaboration on the job site? Ask them for an example of how they’ve worked closely with others to achieve a goal. Are they able to identify their specific role while also demonstrating a sense of success in the shared accomplishment? You might also ask the candidate how they build rapport with people they encounter on the job.
- Positive Attitude.
An employee’s attitude can have a major impact on those around them. They can lift others up with a positive attitude or bring them down with a negative outlook. Their mindset also affects how they perceive their work and their fellow workers. And something you shouldn’t overlook: Workers who have a positive attitude tend to make a good impression for your company.
One way to assess a candidate’s attitude is to ask how they feel about their work and how they’ve dealt with issues in previous jobs. Their answers will give you an idea of whether they have a positive or negative outlook. Look for workers with a positive attitude, and those working around that individual will thank you.
While these five soft skills are by no means a complete list of traits you might prioritize in your recruitment and hiring processes, they can serve as a great starting point. And if you’re using a construction staffing company for all your hiring needs, make sure they prioritize both hard and soft skills.
For example, at PeopleReady Skilled Trades, we check for all the qualities above during interviews, reference checks, integrity tests, job-end checks and many other ongoing evaluations. So, if you’re looking for qualified, dependable tradespeople for your next project, we are ready to help.
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