New Research Defines the Soft Skills That Matter Most to Employers

Leading recruitment software provider, iCIMS, releases report on the soft skills today’s job seekers need

MATAWAN, N.J. [August 28, 2017] –  Soft skills can be a competitive advantage for people looking to get a new job and grow their career. iCIMS, Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based talent acquisition solutions, released a new research report today that uncovers the specific types of soft skills employers are looking for, how they evaluate these kinds of skills in potential employees and how soft skills affect career advancement opportunities.

To compile the report, iCIMS conducted a survey among 400 HR and recruiting professionals and provided additional commentary from enterprise employer, DISH Network, and iCIMS’ chief economist, on the value of soft skills in a changing U.S. labor market.

Daniel Pecharich, senior manager of recruiting at DISH Network, an iCIMS customer, defined the soft skills he looks for in candidates, “We hire for three things at DISH – energy, intelligence, and the need to achieve. We believe these characteristics are innate to our employees and essential for the company’s success. DISH employees are inquisitive, not afraid to challenge assumptions and are hungry for knowledge.”

“The U.S. labor market has been growing polarized between high-skill and low-skill jobs, but common to both ends of the spectrum is the need for soft skills,” said Josh Wright, iCIMS chief economist. “Whether home health aides or white-collar data scientists, the human element is the key to many of today’s fastest growing jobs.”

Key findings from the report include:

The Top Soft Skills and Personality Traits Employers Need

–      The top three soft skills recruiting professionals value most in a job candidate included problem-solving (62 percent), adaptability (49 percent) and time management (48 percent).

–      The top three personality traits recruiting professionals value most in a job candidate included professionalism (71 percent), drive (50 percent) and enthusiasm (49 percent).

–      The business areas where soft skills are more important than hard skills include customer service (67 percent), human resources (67 percent) and sales/marketing (53 percent).

Tips for the Class of 2017

–      More than one in three recruiting professionals believe job candidates’ soft skills have gotten worse in the past five years.

–      Ninety-seven percent of recruiting professionals agree that colleges and parents need to do a better job of teaching kids soft skills before they enter the workforce.

–      For entry level positions, recruiting professionals rank adaptability (36 percent) as the most important soft skill, followed by oral communication (24 percent), and problem-solving (19 percent).

The Soft Skills Needed for Leadership Positions

–      Ninety-four percent of recruiting professionals believe an employee with stronger soft skills has a better chance of being promoted to a leadership position than an employee with more years of experience but weaker soft skills.

–      Fifty-eight percent of recruiting professionals believe soft skills are more important for senior-level positions, meaning leadership and management positions – compared to entry-level positons.

–      For senior leadership level positions, recruiting professionals rank problem-solving (38 percent) as the most important soft skill, followed by oral communications (26 percent) and adaptability (17 percent).

How Recruiters Are Judging Soft Skills

–      The most common mistakes recruiting professionals see job candidates make during interviews include showing up late (79 percent), dressing inappropriately (70 percent), avoiding eye contact (68 percent) and checking their phone during the interview (58 percent).

–      On average, job candidates participate in three interviews before an offer is extended, according to recruiting professionals – with the majority of companies conducting three to four interviews during the hiring process.

“This report reinforces how important soft skills are for today’s companies,” said Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS. “Employers have learned that hiring the wrong person comes with a high cost so they are putting the right technology in place to help them make smarter decisions.”

“To ensure a job candidate is a good match for a job and has the right soft skills, many companies have incorporated new technologies such as video screening and pre-employment talent assessments to better predict potential,” Vitale explained. “Job seekers should be prepared for these additional interview steps that will help them better display the skills they’ll need to be successful on the job.”

To view the full report, please visit iCIMS Hiring Insights.

About iCIMS

iCIMS is a leading provider of talent acquisition technology that enables organizations everywhere to build winning workforces. For over 20 years, iCIMS has been at the forefront of talent acquisition transformation. iCIMS empowers thousands of organizations worldwide with the right tools to meet their evolving needs across the talent journey and drive business success. Its AI-powered hiring platform is designed to improve efficiency, cut recruiting costs and build exceptional experiences for candidates and recruiters. For more information, visit