We were fortunate last night to be able to host Ross Clennett here in Auckland for a short and snappy training event with some of our v.RPO on-demand recruiter community. Ross presented to our gathering about the increasing importance of soft skills in relation to workplace performance nowadays, and how to identify these skills in candidates.

One of the points raised towards the end of the event particularly piqued my interest. A point was made about something known as the halo effect and how recruiters overwhelmingly assess soft skills based upon the four A’s: articulate, ambitious, affable, attractive.

The four A’s, it seems to me, are pretty much the sole criteria that most recruitment agencies base their identification and selection of their own recruitment consultants upon. Sad as it might sound, after ten years recruiting recruiters, I can pretty much guarantee a candidate will be favourably regarded by many of my clients if they tick at least three of those four boxes.

It’s hardly ground-breaking news to suggest us recruitment agencies are somewhat vapid and vainglorious beasts often placing style over substance. But I do wonder, as our industry agonisingly evolves into (what I hope will be) a more professional service, if we should also evolve the attributes we look for in our new recruiters.

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The core soft skills companies are now seeking above all others are communication, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, emotional judgement and digital literacy. Given there’s very few hard skills you can really judge a recruiter on, beyond the ability to type on a keyboard (grammar not essential) and work a smart phone, identifying soft skills is incredibly important. That list includes some incredibly important skills that will set one recruiter apart from another, and should really be what you look for in your new staff members.

Unfortunately, for the forseeable future, I still think many firms will ignore this and continue hiring new recruiters based upon how they look, how they sound, and how much swagger they’ve got. The more forward-thinking firms, though, will realise that future high performers in recruitment will be ones with the soft skills mentioned above.

Jonathan Rice

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

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