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The Competition for Soft Skills

  • Publish Date: Posted over 2 years ago
  • Author:by Garrick Cooper

For many years, companies prioritized quantifiable skills. They focused on measurable results in terms of employee productivity. However, in recent years we have seen that focus start to shift. Many companies are now hiring based off the skills that you can’t measure, instead of solely focusing on a list of past experiences and achievements.


The skills gap

Previously, it was assumed that hard technology skills were the primary skills that were missing in the market. Even though technology skills will continue to be increasingly needed, we are seeing a new gap of skills emerge, soft skills.

We continue to see a significant shift in the job market toward prioritizing soft skills. The top skills and skills groups employers increasingly search for, according to the World Economic Forum, are “Critical thinking and analysis we well as problem-solving, and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.”

The cause

The skills gap continues to widen as in-demand skills evolve with the market. Before 2020, the main disruptor to the workforce was arguably technology. However, the pandemic hit the workforce as another disruptor. As we navigate these two disruptions, where do we see these skills gaps come into play?

Technology was already disrupting the workforce and causing a skills gap on its own, but the pandemic accelerated it. It forced companies to fast-track the deployment of technology. This reliance on technology resulted in the need for different skill sets in the market. As we relied more on technology than ever, it created a whole new missing facet of skills.

As the workforce moved toward a working from home environment, the skills gap continued to grow. Now, we need to be able to effectively communicate over video conference tools. We need to be able to problem-solve over email. We need to be able to collaborate with team members while not seeing them in the office every day.

All these things, before the two disruptors, didn’t take as much effort. However, now that it takes a conscious effort to successfully navigate today’s workplace through technology, we are seeing a lack of soft skills. Although many see these soft skills as innate, I argue that they are skills that need to be taught and learned.

As we continue to see these disruptors change the marketplace, we will see the competition for top talent become even more intense. Additionally, as borders continue to open, we will see a higher level of talent mobility which will also result in an increased level of competitiveness in terms of finding top talent.


Filling the gap

How can you fill that gap at your own company? This complex question can be answered in a few different ways.

 The first strategy to implement is to look inward. Figure out which soft skills are most important to your company. Following that decision, take action by creating a skills learning and development program. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, “on average companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require reskilling … and 94% of business leaders report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, a sharp update from 65% in 2018.” Personal development for your employees will continue to increase in importance for company success, but more significantly in driving higher job satisfaction and employee retention.

Another strategy to fill that skill gap at your organization is to ensure you are actively building a workforce of talent that already possesses those skills. Behavioral interviews are a method of assessing current skills. Provide your HR team with the resources needed to comprehend talent skillsets. An additional option is to provide applicants with the information they need prior to the interview, like asking them to be prepared to talk about a time they handled conflict.


Soft skills have turned from qualities that were nice to have, to qualities that are essential for success. As we continue to understand the true importance of soft skills in the market, especially in the recruitment industry, businesses need to take the time to prioritize not only searching for talent with these skills but upskilling their current workforce as well.  

I hope that these insights provide you and your company with a new perspective regarding soft skills and where the workforce is heading. To learn more about our brands, and how we can supply your company with talent that has all the soft skills necessary, don’t hesitate to contact our teams today.


Garrick Cooper – President, North America