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New World of Work

What are recruiters looking for in the new world of work?

By 11 October 2018No Comments

As the world of work continues to shift and mould itself to the future, there are some recruiters who are changing the way hiring happens in organisations big and small, all around the world. Once, those who held university degrees were at the top of the recruitment pile. Now, the perspective of recruiters is changing.


The great news is that those who hold undergraduate degrees or post-graduate degrees can still thrive in this new world of work – things haven’t changed so much that they’ve been pushed into irrelevance just yet. Having a university degree won’t hurt your chances, but recruiters have got their eye out for something that universities don’t usually have on their curriculum – soft skills.


What are soft skills?


In general, there are two types of skills that we all have varying levels of – hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the things that you learn through training, education, on-the-job learning and other courses. These skills are the practical, specific skills and knowledge every employee needs to perform their role.


On the other hand, soft skills are often called ‘people-skills’; they’re the personality traits, communication abilities and emotional intelligence that help individuals as they interact with others (both at work and in their personal lives). Soft skills are difficult to measure and they’re much harder to learn than hard skills but they are just as essential. In fact, some recruiters believe they could be even more important.


There are already some big name companies who have wiped the pre-requisite of a university degree from their recruitment process: Penguin Random House in the UK changed their approach back in 2016. In the announcement, Neil Morrison, Group HR Director, UK and international, said “We want to attract the best people to help grow and shape the future of our company, regardless of their background – and that means that we need to think and act differently. Simply, if you’re talented and you have potential, we want to hear from you.”


PricewaterhouseCoopers made a similar move for potential entry-level employees in 2017. PwC’s talent acquisition director Julie Duncan said “The future of work is changing and we’re looking to hire the skills of the future, not the degrees of the future.”

Degrees still have immense value, but they need to be paired with the right combination of soft skills.


Recruiting for soft skills makes sense


Expecting anyone – let alone employees coming in at entry-level – to walk in and know exactly what they need to be doing with both their hard skills and their soft skills is unreasonable, but it’s the existing soft skills that will give recruiters the best chance of making the right hiring move.


It makes sense, too, to put such an emphasis on soft skills in the ever changing world of work. A study by McCrindle showed that today’s school leavers will have at least 17 jobs between the age of 18 and retirement – hard skills are important, that’s for sure, but it’s the soft skills that will allow employees to move around, climb the ladder or switch industries altogether: soft skills are transferable.

Soft skills also hold up when pitted against the trend of automation. A study by Adzuna found that 1 in 3 Australian jobs could be automated by 2030 but it’s not as gloomy – human faces and human emotions still hold a lot of weight and, with more industries turning to automation, the value of soft skills is being driven higher and higher for other roles that automation can’t quite get right.


To learn more about how employers can think differently as the world of work changes, download Pendragon’s eBook: ‘The New World of Work’.

Purnima Kabra