‘Soft’ Skills May Get You Your Dream Job in Today’s Labour Market

"There’s value in hiring people who have an open attitude towards learning skills, rather than just hiring people that may have direct or relatable experience"
(photo: Getty)

The current, tight job market is changing the way companies are hiring. Many Canadian employers say they are open to hiring workers without direct job-related experience, with 77 per cent of them valuing “soft” interpersonal skills like conflict resolution and teamwork over “hard” technical ones, according to a recent survey from job site Indeed. 

The survey, which included 1,000 Canadian companies of varying sizes, also found that 80 per cent of employers say their company would consider hiring applicants who don’t have a degree or certification related to the job at hand and would be willing to offer on-the-job training instead. The findings come as Canada faces an ongoing labour shortage and a record-low unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent in May.

“There’s value in hiring people who have an open attitude towards learning skills, rather than just hiring people that may have direct or relatable experience,” says Michelle Slater, Canadian director of country marketing at Indeed. “This is partly driven by the tight labour market—employers need to be much more creative with finding the next new person to hire for their company.”

How job hunters can demonstrate soft skills  

Soft skills—non-technical abilities—like critical thinking, leadership, work ethic, time management and adaptability are valuable to employers because they lead to collaborative work environments and promote healthy work cultures. Soft skills are becoming even more important in remote work settings where effective communication and flexibility is crucial.  

From the ability to juggle multiple deadlines at once to hearing out a customer’s grievances, possessing the right mix of soft skills can make all the difference between a star employee and one that just gets by. But these sought-after traits can be tricky for employers to spot on a résumé and can be just as difficult for job hunters to demonstrate. 

While many job hunters dread writing cover letters, Slater says they offer applicants an opportunity to show how they have used their soft skills in previous roles. Meanwhile, people who are new to the job market can demonstrate soft skills through their volunteer experience or education history. 

For job seekers looking to sharpen their soft skills, Slater suggests taking coursework in areas such as psychology or public speaking, or working with a mentor who can provide them with valuable feedback on their interpersonal skills. While being suited for a role is important, Canadian employers care about the attitude employees bring to the team—not just the technical experience they may or may not have, says Slater. 

So if you’ve been eyeing a posting for a new gig but have held off on submitting your application over concerns of being underqualified, the current labour market could be the sign you need to apply. According to the Indeed survey, Canadian employers are having the most difficulty finding workers for roles in digital and information technology, project management, engineering and software development. “As employers are being more creative with who they hire, now may be the opportunity to go after that dream job,” says Slater.

Srivindhya Kolluru
Srivindhya Kolluru
Srivindhya Kolluru is a Toronto-based freelance journalist who covers business and finance. Her work has appeared in places like The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Quartz. Follow her on Twitter at @vindhya_kolluru