The rise of soft skills

Until very recently, career success in a given position appeared to be based solely on the technical ability to perform certain tasks.

As a result, recruiters and companies systematically placed technical skills at the heart of the candidate search and evaluation process.

However, the workplace has considerably evolved since the 1970s. For one, companies have experienced an acceleration in the pace of economic and technological changes.

Their effects have been significant in several ways, not in the least in regards to the skills sought by organizations.

While technical skills are important, especially digital literacy, they are no longer sufficient. Soft skills are seen as the key for people and organization to adapt and stay relevant in today’s fast-changing landscape.

We list below the main drivers of change experienced in the workplace, along with the importance of soft skills to each:

1. The type of work performed by people is changing:
With constant technological progress, the type of work performed by people is continually changing as technologies evolve and machines take on an increasing number of human tasks. Recruiters are therefore increasingly looking for candidates with the adaptability and the learning mindset required to keep up with these changes.

2. The work becomes increasingly collaborative:
The evolution towards a tertiary economy has given rise to new, more collaborative professions. “Work in knowledge-based economies is increasingly accomplished by teams of people with complementary expertise and roles, as opposed to individuals doing isolated work in an industrial setting”. Recruiters are therefore more and more looking for candidates with strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work in teams.

3. Careers paths become increasingly fragmented:
Workers today are significantly more likely to change career fields or jobs than they were in the past, and one-company careers are becoming extinct. The advent of digital removed the barriers of entry in many industries, and small and medium-sized companies have flourished, creating numerous jobs in the process. Faced with this evolution, recruiters are looking for flexible and adaptable candidates who can move with ease between successive roles, functions, or companies.

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