You have an opening that needs to be filled; filled not simply with another body but someone featuring unparalleled potential, driven to lead but willing to follow, someone who pro-actively seeks to go above and beyond the call of your generic job description.

You've sourced many candidates, with “many” not really justifying the actual amount. You've conducted screenings, phone and face-to-face interviews, background checks, resume review and comprehensive reference confirmations.

Weeks later, finally, you've landed on a select group of two candidates. Now the fun starts. Do you hire the resume—an impressive blend of experience, educational background and professional qualifications? Or, do you look beyond the resume and place greater emphasis on the exceptionally-positive reference responses, A+ face-to-face interview and personality traits? Today, many employers are choosing the latter.

To further explore this trend, we turn to this week’s Talent Acquisition Fast Facts:

According to Forbes, as organizations place greater emphasis on retaining their workforces, 88% are now looking for the “right cultural fit” as opposed to hard skills or professional qualifications.

88% soft vs hard skills.jpg

Recognizing this trend, Universum surveyed 1,200 employers across the globe to gain insight into the “top five personality traits employers are looking for in job candidates.” According to surveyed respondents, the five most important traits they’re looking for but also having difficulty finding are as follows: 

1.) Professionalism (86%)

2.) High-energy (78%)

3.) Confidence (61%)

4.) Self-monitoring (58%)

5.) Intellectual curiosity (57%)

According to the Association of American Colleges & Universities, 93% of 318 surveyed CEOs, presidents and other C-level executives agree, “A candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.”

According to Manpower’s 2013 Talent Shortage Survey, which features feedback from more than 38,000 employers across the globe, 35% of companies are struggling to fill jobs due to lack of available talent. 

  • Among the top reasons for these talent shortages, 19% of employers say “lack of workplace competencies (soft skills)” is a primary reason they’re having difficulty filling jobs.
  • In North America specifically, 16% of surveyed employers say this lack is a primary reason they’re having difficulty filling roles.

As noted in a previous edition of Talent Acquisition Fast Facts, 83% of nearly 4,000 corporate HR leaders across the global say employer brand drastically impacts their ability to hire quality talent. Employers clearly understand the importance of cultural fit (and its impact on the bottom line). Are there specific strategies you use to make certain candidates are the right fit for your team, culture and brand?

Training magazine recently conducted a survey of 700 HR managers, 67% of which said they would rather hire an applicant with exceptional soft skills whose technical capabilities were lacking.

  • Conversely, 9% of surveyed respondents said they would rather hire someone with strong technical expertise but who are lacking in the interpersonal skills department.

Of the HR managers who said they would hire soft skills over technical skills, 93% said they voted this way because technical skills are easier to teach/train than soft skills. Do you agree? 

According to Bersin by Deloitte’s The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014, U.S. businesses increased training budgets by an average of 15% in 2013—reflecting the highest growth percentage in the past seven years.

This would seem to indicate that employers have begun to recognize the importance of hiring the individual more so than his/hers hard skills. Do you expect this trend to continue? Are you on board with looking beyond technical skills to hire a better cultural fit? Fit certainly matters, but should professional experience and education be taking a backseat?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to influence how business gets done and keeps employees working remotely, important processes like new-employee onboarding need to adjust to the current virtual world. Key considerations can help implement these appro...

View Blog