Labor market regulators and public employment services (PES) can help people become more employable by promoting soft-skills. Here are six ways they can do this:

  1. Incorporate soft-skills training into education and workforce development programs. PES can team up with educational institutions and training providers to ensure students and job seekers know how to communicate, work with others, and solve problems.
  2. Encourage employers to put a value on and prioritize soft-skills when hiring and promoting. PES can explain to employers how important soft-skills are and remind them to look at them along with technical skills when recruiting and promoting.
  3. Develop and promote industry-specific soft-skills standards. PES can work with industry associations and employers to create and advertise soft-skills standards specific to different industries. This can help job seekers and employees understand the soft-skills in demand in their chosen field. Or vice versa, they can help people choose a specific field, taking the required hard-skills into account, based on their soft-skills.
  4. Give incentives to employers who train their employees in soft-skills. PES can incentivize employers who invest in training their employees in soft-skills. This encourages them to help employees develop their soft-skills and become more employable.
  5. Create and advertise certifications for soft-skills. PES can create and advertise certification programs for soft-skills. This can help job seekers show their abilities and help employers find people with matching soft-skills.
  6. Use a two-sided model to assess people and jobs for soft-skills. PES can evaluate people and the jobs they’re offering regarding the soft-skills required. Preferably, a scientifically sound model.

training is the new hiring

Training is the new hiring. Labor market scarcity is evident by now, unfortunately. A natural reflex is to lower the criteria (among other initiatives). We’ll hire people and train them on the job, so they can grow to become the full-fledged employee required for the job.

Train for what?

A new type of IV treatment, not yet taught in nursing school, has to be explained on the actual job. Controlling a cluster of instrument panels in the port has to be preceded by training. But what about the non-technical skills, the soft-skills?

Without understanding the base skillset, regarding soft-skills, of a new employee, only 50% of the spectrum is taken into account.

Map soft-skills on the talent – and job side to bridge the gap. Gaps between the soft-skills of today and those required for the job tomorrow.

hire for

What’s the thing that the majority in HR seems to agree on yet the minority is actually doing? Hire for attitude train for skills.

If the majority of employers would indeed hire for attitude, why is everyone copy-pasting the same generic, crappy vacancy descriptions?

Apparently, the whole world needs dynamic team players for every job.

Identify and communicate specific attitudes derived from the actual job. Time for HR to live up to their end of the bargain.

soft through hard

Some (but definitely not all) so-called soft-skills can be assessed through hard-skills. Coding, as a hard-skill for instance, can be relatively straightforward to assess. You present the talent with a coding problem. Depending on their ability to rectify the mistake and the time (to a lesser extent) they take, the assessor can gauge the talent’s coding skills. Hard-skills, check.

Depending on how a talent solves the problem, the assessor can derive some insights regarding soft-skills. Does the talent take much initiative? Do they use a creative approach? What’s their problem-solving mindset? How far are they willing to go to solve the problem?

In some cases, soft-skills can be assessed through hard-skills.

professor jerk

Years ago, when I was diagnosed with a benign tumor in the face, the professor was an absolute jerk about it. The way he relayed the diagnosis was terrible. Sadly, I’ve seen cats communicate better.

What that man lacks in social skills, he makes up for in medical and surgical skills — a brilliant professor, without a doubt.

If that’s the communication style this doctor applies with his patients, how does he communicate with his colleagues? What’s worse, this professor, in particular, is no exception.

We can’t all be communication gurus, but there is room for improvement in many cases.

Bad interpersonal communication styles in healthcare can literally have fatal consequences.

Mapping professional expectations and soft-skills in healthcare can be leveraged to provide learning & development trajectories and build better teams.

In the end, engaged healthcare teams save more lives.

job content

Only one in four Belgians consider their paycheck to be the most crucial source of motivation for work. 48% consider the actual contents of their job the most important motivator, according to a recent study conducted by Partena Professional.

Salary, among other “advantages,” is easy to express, and the number speaks for itself. How it actually feels like to perform the job, on a daily basis, is much harder to define and subsequently communicate.

Close to one in two is on the lookout for a different job throughout the first year of employment. Reason why? Mismatch in job expectations. In other words, this is not what I’ve been sold. You told me, dear recruiter, that I could work in a particular way. A couple of weeks later, it turns out that it couldn’t be farther from the truth. You told me I would get a lot of autonomy and feedback. In reality, I’m being micro-managed without any feedback. The way I perform tasks daily is not at all as described—quite the contrary.

Imagine for a second that marketeers advertised products and services as poorly as some recruiters do. Actually, they can’t because there are regulations to prevent false advertising.

Focus on communicating job content correctly to your candidates.

Bonus: if you don’t know how, ask me. I’d love to help out.

what’s in a name

How can we improve professional human behavior and interaction when we can’t decide on a term and clear definition of those skills?

Maybe we should forget about semantics and do it anyway? Improve on the above-mentioned skills and make the best of them. What’s in a name, after all… Then again, which other domains have made significant progress without an unambiguous definition? Without the ability to measure, there is no before and after.

We live in an interesting time where professional human behavior and interaction are still a bit of a black box.

Please join me on my journey this year, demystifying these principles.

mine for diamonds

How to mine a diamond in three steps.

Minimize inherent bias in recruiters or hiring managers.

Hire for skills. Move away from functions (and their titles) and embrace skills (hard-skills and soft-skills, combined) instead.

Provide a non-linear career perspective. Based on the hard-skills and soft-skills, combined with the talent’s willingness to learn, draw a roadmap with possible career choices within your company.

There is, however, one caveat to this approach. You can’t polish a gem if you’re not willing to dig up the diamond.