3 soft skills employers in South Africa are looking for

 ·3 Feb 2019

Soft skills are more valued by companies today than they were five years ago. Recruiters are much more interested in the human, personal, and relational qualities of new talent in 2019 than they are in technical skills, says Adzuna.

In South Africa, 80% of job offers require one or more soft skills. In a January study, more than 140,000 job offers were analysed to determine the most frequently mentioned soft skills mentioned by SA recruiters.

The research was extended to five other countries – US, Germany, the Netherlands, UK and Italy – which covered more than 5.5 million vacancies.

Problem-solving, adaptability and time-management is what SA recruiters are after.

Problem-solving, adaptability and time-management are the preferred soft skills for South African recruiters. In roughly 10% of all job offers in South Africa, organisational capacity is mentioned, making it one of the most valued soft skills in the country.

Rigour is something that is important to roughly 8% of all recruiters, and these soft skills are most in demand in industries like IT, engineering and personal services, Adzuna said.

Motivation is a soft skill that was mentioned in 8% of all advertised vacancies. In the areas of sales and real estate, motivation is a key element for success, the recruitment specialist said.

The demand for soft skills does vary from one country to another.

The US came in as the country which is the most demanding as far as soft skills are concerned, with almost 90% of all job offers mentioning soft skills.

The United Kingdom seems almost as interested in the human qualities of applicants, with 86% of all vacancies requiring soft skills for candidates to apply. In France, the demand for soft skills is high, with an 80% mention rate, and in Germany, 79% of all listings mention soft skills.

The rates dropped a little for Italy (72%) and the Netherlands (90%).

At an international level, the most valued soft skills are organisation and motivation, Adzuna said. The most notable differences Adzuna picked up as far as soft skills are concerned came in when it compared English-speaking countries to their European counterparts.

In English-speaking countries, more than a quarter of all recruiters require candidates to have organisational skills, compared to just 10% in Italy.

The ability to develop a network of relationships and profit from them in a professional capacity is something that seems to be highly sought after in the US and the UK, which respectively mentioned the keywords 13% and 9.8% of the time.

In contrast to these figures, the demand for networking skills in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are almost non-existent.

Out of the six countries in the study, South Africa, the UK and the US had the highest demand for creative soft skills. But in countries like the Netherlands, France, and Italy, this skill is relegated to the background, Adzuna said.


Value of soft skills drop or rise depending on the country

No two countries value soft skills equally. This is evident when one notes how highly valued soft skills like organisation and communication is in countries like the United States. It is clear that non-European countries all have important similarities in their demand for soft skills.

However, there are some discrepancies, like attendance being preferred in the US and motivation being more important in the UK.

In the Netherlands and Germany, recruiters focus on voluntary behaviour of new talent, where candidates have to showcase a burning desire to succeed in their careers. France and Italy are much more focused on working methodology and overall candidate behaviour.

In these countries, recruits are expected to prioritise their tasks, manage their time effectively, and showcase rigour to reach long-term goals.

Jesse Green, country manager for Adzuna SA, said: “It simply isn’t enough to enter the workforce with a diploma and some expertise in 2019. Even though companies do value candidates with proven technical skills, non-professional qualities are becoming more important in the selection of future recruits. It seems like we have entered the age where soft skills are a major determining factor in the hiring process.”

Read: The average salaries in 15 major cities across South Africa

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