High-Value Skills to Look for When Recruiting New Talent

Categories: Advice for HR Professionals, Recruitment Advice, Trends and Learning


Finding (and retaining) new talent has never been easy, but in today’s increasingly competitive and highly volatile business climate, the task is more challenging than perhaps ever before. And it’s not just about winning out over your nearest rivals in the recruiting game, it’s also about finding candidates who possess the essential skills required to survive and thrive in today’s ever-changing market.

Odds are that the skills your company needs now in its workforce differ significantly from what they were 15, 10, or even five years ago. And that means that not only will you need to align your talent search with the realities of your business as they currently exist, but you will also need to recruit with an eye toward your company’s requirements for the future.

But what, specifically, are the high-value skills you should be seeking when recruiting new talent, regardless of your industry?

Proficiency in the Virtual Office

Ours truly is a global market, and that means that your employees will likely be called upon to routinely engage with colleagues, partners, and clients from around the world. Thus, ideal job candidates should be proficient in the diverse tools they’ll need to use to communicate and collaborate with stakeholders across the globe.

Not only that, but in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to remote operations has accelerated at an unprecedented rate, further emphasizing the need for candidates to be able to perform efficiently and productively in the digital workplace.

Prospective recruits, at the very least, should be adept in using online collaboration technologies, such as Google Docs or cloud-based apps, productivity tools, such as Asana, communication platforms, such as Slack, and video conferencing technologies such as Zoom.

Social Media Skills

Like it or not, social media is playing an increasingly important role in business today. And that means that a strong background in social media marketing strategy will bring immense value to your organization. Look for candidates who are effective on all the major platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok.

It won’t be enough, however, for your candidate simply to know how to use these platforms. Ideally, they should also have experience in leveraging the many functionalities of these channels to diversify content and tailor marketing and communications strategies to the specific needs of the target platform user

For instance, you should look for candidates who have experience in managing community forums, including daily online engagement in online discussion groups, as well as expertise in the creation of video content for social media. This means that you will be bringing onboard talent poised to leverage the immense power of these vast and growing marketing channels. With such skills, a candidate will be uniquely qualified to devise branding, marketing, and communication strategies that position your company for our increasingly digitalized future.

Proficiency in Business Analytics

There’s no question that the business world is becoming increasingly competitive, thanks in large measure to rampant globalization and the rise of the online economy. To prevail in this crowded and volatile environment, businesses must remain lean, efficient, and strategic.

It is no longer sufficient, in other words, to formulate your business model or build your operating strategy on intuition, tradition, or even on local conditions and contexts. Rather, savvy decision-making depends on information, the ability to collect and assess relevant business data and translate that into effective and timely strategy.

Thus, when you find a candidate with experience in and an aptitude for business analytics, then you may well have hit on a goldmine for your company! After all, analytics do not simply provide insight into the dynamics of the external market, but they can also be turned inward, to internal reviews of your organization. Armed with internal data, you can more readily and more accurately identify existing and emergent challenges within your operations, as well as areas of strength that can be leveraged and expanded upon.

Don’t Forget the Soft Skills

When you’re looking for high-value skills in a candidate, it can be easy to become so focused on essential technical skills that you forget about other core aptitudes. In today’s business environment, however, soft skills are often just as important as so-called “hard skills,” if not more so.

One of the most valuable of these is emotional intelligence because this is an attribute from which other invaluable traits derive and on which they depend, including the ability to communicate effectively, to build relationships, and to creatively problem-solve.

To be sure, soft skills like emotional intelligence can be far more difficult to assess in the candidate screening process than are the harder skills, but this is by no means impossible. A candidate’s work history and references can provide significant insight into the applicant’s aptitudes in this domain.

If, for instance, a candidate has a history of rapid job turnover, and certainly if there is a history of termination or reprimand in their employment record, then this may be a red flag that warrants careful consideration. On the other hand, if an applicant has a long record of stable employment, especially if it’s combined with awards and accolades, then you have a fairly strong indicator of the prospect’s strong (and valuable) soft skills.

Taking the time to reach out to vet a candidate’s references and, in particular, to reach out to their previous employers and coworkers, is a particularly important step in evaluating the prospect’s high-value soft skills.

The Takeaway

Finding top talent is a challenge for every recruiter, but in today’s evolving business environment, recruiting prospects with the high-value skills that your company needs to survive and thrive across the long term can be an especially formidable task. However, there are some aptitudes that you should look for when screening candidates, from social media marketing proficiency to an aptitude for working in the digital space to leveraging soft skills to facilitate innovation, collaboration, and resiliency.