Do you remember sending or receiving a paper copy of a CV and handwritten covering letter to the company you or an applicant wanted to work for? Those days are long gone (ouch, we’re showing our age)! Today, video CVs and profiles on social networks are transforming the recruitment process. Things are moving fast, it’s a new generation and recruitment is changing. So how can you read a CV today and pre-screen the right candidate? And what if your focus is on soft skills?

What’s the difference between soft skills and hard skills?

Hard skills are the competencies that can be evaluated quickly, such as level of education, languages, skills, etc. They are essential for assessing a future employee and their capacity to take on a particular post, but they are not the only skills that should be judged. Indeed, soft skills, which are the opposite of hard skills help to understand the behaviour that the applicant will adopt within their company, team, roles, etc. This involves assessing their emotional intelligence.

Soft skills are taken into account in the recruitment process and rightly so. It is easy for a company to implement an employee training programme to develop competencies (hard skills). Conversely, it can be complicated or even impossible to educate an employee and particularly a personality to fit into the company if they don’t share your values or respect your organisational processes. You run the risk that they won’t work well with other staff and that you will turn out to have made a poor recruitment decision, with all the costs and frustration that entails.

Identifying soft skills on a CV

According to a study by Miratech, recruiters take an average of 40 seconds to read an entire CV. Allow twice that (i.e. 1 minute and 20 seconds) to decide whether the applicant will ultimately be included on the shortlist. The first thing they look for is professional experience, even before education and skills. So to identify soft skills and confirm hard skills, you need to read between the lines. The traditional CV should fit on a single page, and only offers a limited amount of information now that the covering later is outdated. It therefore, means relying on a few stylistic indicators to understand the applicant’s personality and decide if they could potentially be suitable for the job.

Check the spelling and structure of the CV!

Careful spelling will not only reveal someone who is proficient in the language of Shakespeare but above all, it demonstrates that they are someone who has an eye for detail. 

Interpret the words they use!

The words used by applicants to describe or share their professional experience can say a lot about them. For example, using passive structures can reveal someone who is reserved, or not very dynamic. If you are looking for a manager who will be in charge of staff, these details will matter to you. “Actively looking for a job, I hope I will attract your attention.” The passive form used here contradicts the idea of “actively looking”.

Check out your applicants’ social networks!

A carefully written LinkedIn profile with recommendations, active and regularly updated Twitter account and a Facebook account without any inappropriate photos or comments? There’s a good chance that the applicant is someone who will have the right attitude to their work. “Show me your Instagram, and I’ll tell you who you are”; rely on social media: they often offer an accurate reflection of your employees.

According to a study by StepStone, employers who view applicants’ profiles on social media get very varied results: information from social media had a positive influence on the hiring decision in almost half of cases, but led to the applicant being rejected in a quarter of them.

Video in recruitment processes

To quickly identify soft skills, as well as getting a few pointers from their CV, you can also ask applicants to complete a video interview, which will help you identify their approaches to verbal and non-verbal communication. It is also an opportunity to ask your applicant's targeted questions for a quick check of the criteria that are important to you at the pre-screening stage: motivations, personality, qualities, etc. So why wait for a face-to-face interview to analyse your applicants’ soft skills?

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