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Inclusive hiring: technical vs soft skills

Updated: Jan 12



From our experience, when managers are asked: “what screening criteria is important for this role?” they, more often than not, do a quick shortcut and tend to emphasise the “technical skills” required in the role.


Technical skills give a level of control for managers and recruiters to screen candidates

in or out of the process. They actually make the job of screening candidates a lot easier.

But by focusing on pure technical skills we are baking bias into the process and possibly

missing out on talent.


Focusing on technical skills favours men over women


LinkedIn found that Men, on average, tend to list three more skills on their LinkedIn profiles than women, and are more likely to list the “in-demand” skills on their profile than women.


The research found that, women are more likely to actively showcase their soft skills on

their LinkedIn profile, whereas men tend to showcase their tech skills. And given that

people with 5+ skills on their LinkedIn profile are messaged up to 31 x more by hirers, it’s

no wonder why more men are identified for shortlists than women.


In general, women favour job adverts that bring out the soft skills requirements in a role, such as team-work, collaboration, communications.


Many roles only emphasise the technical aspects, but 92% of hiring managers say they believe soft skills to be more important than hard skills. When asked the question: “what does high performance look like in this role? What does good look like?” more often that not they tend to emphasise the soft skills


However, when pressed for time - and to help shortcut the process - technical bias kicks in and managers resort back to focusing on the technical skills on their job description.


Break technical bias with intelligent job design

In summary, technical skills may well be essential requirements for role but it’s the soft

skills that will determine high performance and attract a wider pool of diverse talent.


So, how do we make a shift in these biases?


We need to look at where we define these technical and soft skills requirements in the first place. It’s when we design our jobs and create our job descriptions.


By adopting an intelligent job design approach you can challenge the essential skills requirements.


Wherever this process may happen in the business – job profiling, job description creation, job advert creation, screening and interviewing – you can ensure a good balance of technical and soft skills are designed, promoted, screened and hired for.


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