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The Soft Skills Gap Costing Jobseekers

The Soft Skills Gap Costing Jobseekers

Four in five jobseekers may be missing the mark on job applications due to underdeveloped soft skills, according to new research by job search-engine Adzuna.

The study, conducted in December 2017, analysed over 1 million live job ads and 50,000 jobseeker CVs to compare the soft skills sought after by employers with the soft skills shown by jobseekers, revealing the hidden soft skills gap afflicting jobseekers in the UK.

Management is the most sought-after soft skill for employers looking to fill a vacancy, specified in 53% of job ads, followed by proven examples of responsibility (41%) and experience of training others (35%). Communication (34%) and planning (24%) expertise round-off the top 5 most in-demand soft skills.

Soft skills also include personality-driven attributes that may be deemed key for professional success. The study found the traits most sought-after in a future employee are being flexible (20%), competitive (18%), motivated (15%) and friendly (15%), proving attitude is often as important as experience when looking to secure a new role.

However, with only one 1 in 5 CVs featuring common soft skills, up to 80% of jobseekers may be missing out on being considered for a position due to an oversight of soft skills on their CV.

Only 21% of jobhunters cite the soft skill time management on their CV, making this the most commonly mentioned soft skill. The next most mentioned talents, communication and coaching, appear on just 17% and 16% of CVs respectively.

Of the top 10 most commonly required soft skills, just three – communication (17%), planning (15%) and being motivated (10%) – regularly feature on jobseekers’ CVs, as the majority of jobseekers fail to answer the soft-skill needs spelled out by many job ads.

Soft skills required to find and secure a job

As well as being highly desired by employers, soft skills are also vital for jobseekers to succeed in their job search.

Research skills, which 9% of jobhunters cite on their CV, are vital to find open roles to apply for, as well as needed to make sure any future company is a good fit, and to get an idea of whether the salary they are offering is fair. Confidence and presentation skills, meanwhile, are key to succeeding at interview, while negotiation skills can help jobseekers secure a higher starting salary.

Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments:

“The soft skills gap is a hidden issue holding back the jobs market and making some jobs very tricky to fill. Talent shortages in areas like STEM are stealing the spotlight,while other sectors struggle to fill open positions because too few jobseekers have the aptitudes and personality traits needed for success. This is particularly costly to employers because teaching an employee to become a good manager or an excellent communicator is much harder than teaching a new operating system. As a result, harder-to-learn personality-led talents are often deal-breakers for potential employees.

“If you’re looking for a job in January, showing off your soft skills is absolutely key. Make sure to include soft skills on your CV for the best chance of securing an interview – where you can really demonstrate how your personality would compliment a company culture. Technical skills and experience may be enough to get an interview but showing soft skills often wins you the job.

“Using your soft skills shouldn’t stop there. Flex your negotiating muscles to secure a higher salary, show confidence at interview, and utilise all the resources out there at your disposal to swot up before the big day. A good starting point is using a tool like ValueMyCV to research what your skills are worth and let you know what you should be aiming for in terms of pay. Knowledge is key, and this should help give you the confidence to negotiate a higher starting salary.

“Finally, just as you should always look to up-skill through training, you should continue to ‘learn’ and improve your soft skill talents throughout your career. Technology is transforming the jobs market, with robots and AI starting to replace workers in some industries, but personality and charm are difficult to replicate. Having a strong soft skill set can future-proof your place in the world of work.”

Table 1: Top 10 Soft Skills cited in job ads*

Soft Skill Proportion of job openings looking for soft skill
Management 53.0%
Responsibility 41.3%
Training 34.8%
Communication 34.0%
Planning 24.4%
Organisation 22.6%
Flexible 20.4%
Competitive 18.3%
Motivated 15.4%
Friendly 14.6%

Table 2: Top 10 Soft Skills Commonly Listed on CV**

Soft Skill Number of CVs mentioning skill* Proportion of CVs mentioning skill
Time Management 10,510 21.0%
Communication 8,605 17.2%
Coaching 7,842 15.7%
Planning 7,456 14.9%
Problem Solving 7,364 14.7%
Scheduling 5,996 12.0%
Confident 5,682 11.4%
Team Player 5,054 10.1%
Motivated 4,956 9.9%
Research 4,570 9.1%

*based on sample of 108,424 job ads

**based on sample of 50,000 CVs