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Oct 30 2020

Why the Right Candidate Match Is About More Than Just Skills

Signature Consultants General

Today, finding the “right” person for your open position doesn’t just mean someone with the right skill set: that’s a given. Particularly now, as the job market is flooded with highly qualified talent—including candidates not frequently in the market for a job—you may have your pick of candidates whose skills line up perfectly with your open position. Choosing a candidate from these criteria alone, however, may lead you to the wrong match. So what should you be looking for in the right candidate, if not simply skills?

As we look toward the future, finding the right person to bring onto your team also requires a mix of soft skills suited for a virtual workplace; access to a wider pool of trusted candidates who meet your criteria; and connections to experts who have existing relationships with these candidates and are well-versed in the virtual interview process.

1. Necessary Soft Skills in a Virtual Workplace

Although the existence of soft skills, otherwise known as “emotional intelligence” or “interpersonal skills,” is not new, they’ve gained visibility over the last several years as employers have become increasingly aware of the value of these attributes. LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report found that 92 percent of hiring professionals consider soft skills to be just as important as hard skills. And in a survey of 1,250 HR and line-of-business executives, 98 percent said they evaluate candidates for IT positions on soft skills, and 66 percent said they’ve rejected an otherwise qualified candidate for an IT role because of deficient soft skills. In our current world, as we’re experiencing a pandemic and a largely virtual workplace as a result, soft skills have taken on additional weight. Daniel Goleman, author of the book “Emotional Intelligence” and pioneer of the concept of emotional intelligence, named self-awareness, motivation, self-management, empathy, and social skills as necessary attributes of emotionally intelligent leaders. The mass shift to a largely virtual workplace has created new layers to these skills, bringing additional interpersonal skills to the forefront.

The absence of these skills in candidates and employees has also become especially noticeable as organizations grapple with unprecedented work situations. Now, more than ever, employers are seeking team members who possess qualities not readily available from an industry certification. Many of the employers we engage with are increasingly dependent on their employees to exemplify skills such as self-motivation and discipline, creativity and critical thinking, accountability, leadership, empathy, active listening, time management, perseverance, conflict resolution, and adaptability as the virtual workplace becomes the “new normal.”

The need for higher-level communication skills is obvious and essential in our current moment of change—a change that’s affected how we communicate, according to Dan Brodnitz, head of content strategy for LinkedIn Learning. “That means how people work is just as important as their technical ability and ability to deliver on the work,” he says. Some employers would make the case that being a great communicator is actually the most in-demand soft skill in a remote work environment, as workers are without desk drop-bys, water cooler chats, and hallway meetings to stay connected. Today, what may feel like over-communication is actually just a necessary level of communication. Prompt responses to messages, transparency about needs, and open lines of talking and asking questions are essential parts of working remotely. Those who are able to effectively communicate have the potential to be highly valuable members of the team.

In their extensive academic research, Roberta Sawatzky MA, CPHR, and her son, Nathan J. Sawatzky, detailed eight essential soft skills for success in a remote workplace, with communication prominently among them. Self-motivation, self-discipline and accountability are also included in their list, as productivity in a virtual workplace is measured by results rather than by physical observance or supervision. Being adaptable while still maintaining quality of work is also named as a key skill, with virtual work environments moving at a potentially faster pace than employees have been used to in the past. Empathy has emerged as a critical interpersonal skill in our current environment, on par—and working hand-in-hand with—communication. As workers are left without many of the nonverbal clues and body language they’ve come to rely on in an office setting, they must learn to ask appropriate and thoughtful questions, and listen to the sentiment behind what’s being said, to effectively interpret the actions and reactions of their colleagues.

2. Accessing a Wider Pool of Trusted Candidates

Gaining access to a wider pool of highly qualified candidates who are viewed as individuals with their own goals and unique attributes is the second key to finding the right candidate in today’s environment. Finding a candidate with the right blend of soft and hard skills for a particular role and organization is an art that many haven’t been able to perfect—and that’s where finding an expert to partner with gives you an advantage.

Signature’s relationship model was created with the goal of seamlessly and robustly communicating with and learning more about our clients and consultants to build relationships and mutual trust. When it comes to finding the right candidate match, we’re exercising this skill with every interaction we make. Long before our clients have a need, our team is connecting and building relationships to stay on top of the latest technology and the hiring and industry trends across the country.

Signature’s insider’s view of the industry gives us a jump on the skills most likely to be in demand, so when a client needs someone fast, we don’t have to go out and find the right candidate. Chances are, we already know someone perfect for the job, and we’ve built a relationship with that candidate over time—for months, or perhaps even years. We know what they’re looking for (and not looking for) in a job and an employer, and we’ve gotten to know their biggest strengths, as well as areas in which they need to further develop and grow.

3. Connecting with Virtual Interview Experts

Though virtual interviews were a part of our world before the pandemic, they’ve now become the norm. Being virtual has brought surprising benefits to the hiring process, filling in gaps that previously existed in an in-person hiring environment. It’s erased geographic limitations and widened the pool of prospective talent, as well as significantly sped up time to hire. Despite all the advantages of virtual interviews, however, they’re understandably new and uncomfortable for many. For employers and candidates alike, virtual interviewing can be uncharted territory—and it’s hard to even know where to start. That’s why working with a staffing firm that’s experienced and effective at virtual interviewing, and can confidently lead both parties through the process, is a last key element of successful hiring both now and as we move into the future.

The Signature team has combined virtual tools with our team’s collective expertise to help guide our candidates and clients through the virtual process. At each step, we provide transparency and communication and share the knowledge and best practices we’ve gained over time to ensure a positive experience on both sides. As everyone’s situation is unique, we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to the virtual interview process. Instead, we adapt our recommendations and process to fit each client’s and consultant’s needs.

Finding a candidate with the desired job experience and industry certifications or skills will get you in the race—but finding a candidate who also has the perfect mix of soft skills, meshes with your company culture, and shares your vision will take you to the finish line. No matter how the hiring environment may fluctuate, our top priority—finding the perfect matches between our clients and consultants by building strong relationships—won’t change.

Contact us today to chat about your employment or hiring needs.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.

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