In-demand skills

Survey: The most sought-after skills that employers are having difficulty finding

Kevin Makra|

A positive attitude, good communication, and teamwork skills are the top three most valued soft skills by employers. As well, most executives agree that it is difficult to find candidates with the proper soft skills. These findings are part of a newly released report on the regional breakdowns of the ‘National Business Survey’ from the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC).

The report looked at the state of career development in the Canadian workplace. CERIC commissioned the Environics Research Group to survey 500 employers of varying size to provide views on issues facing labour and hiring across the country. View a full summary of the report.

One question in the report offers job seekers valuable insight into non-technical skills in the workplace.

Which soft skills are most valued by employers?

    Positive Attitude – 36%
    Good Communication Skills – 29%
    Teamwork Skills – 25%
    Strong Work Ethic – 23%
    Interpersonal/Customer Service Skills – 18%
    Flexibility/Adaptability – 11%
    Honesty/Integrity – 11%
    Time Management Abilities – 10%
    Reliability/Dependability – 9%
    Problem Solving Skills – 8%
    Accountability – 7%
    Dedication/Passion – 6%
    Self-Confidence – 6%
    Willingness/Ability to Learn – 5%
    Goal-Oriented – 5%
    Work Well Under Pressure – 5%
    Competence/Diligence – 5%
    Presentation – 4%

It is very interesting to see the combination of soft skills that employers consider important. According to this survey, the number one non-technical skill valued by employers is a positive attitude. The percentages above represent the national averages and it is important to note that different industries may place greater emphasis on different soft skills.

How does this report help you the job seeker?

Do you have the top five soft skills? Does your resume highlight these non-technical skills that employers are looking for? Whether on your resume, or during a job interview, make sure you touch on past experiences that highlight a positive attitude, good communication and teamwork skills. Never underestimate the importance of soft skills in your job search!

Other findings from the report, in relation to soft skills include:

  • Two in three (66%) employers find it difficult to find employees with the right soft skills.
  • If employers are having difficulty finding technically skilled employees:
    • Six in 10 (62%) say they would hire someone who is a good fit, with the proper soft skills and provide training;
    • Three in 10 (26%) say they would keep searching until they found a candidate with the right technical skills;
    • One in 10 (12%) are unsure, or say it depends.

Based on company size:

  • Smaller businesses (<50 employees) are most likely value a positive attitude.
  • Businesses of 100 employees or more value teamwork the most.

Based on region:

  • Businesses in Ontario (73%) report the most difficulty with finding employees with soft skills, while the average was nearly 10 percentage points lower across the other regions (64%).
  • Rural employers (72%) are more likely to hire someone with soft skills who is a good fit and provide training;
  • Those in Ontario (33%) and major urban centres (29%) are more likely to keep searching for someone with the right technical skills.

Soft skills play an important role in your job search. While not the only skills employers look for in a candidate, see ‘Ten essential skills that employers are actively searching for now’, they are absolutely critical. Re-evaluate the soft skills you possess and always work on improving them. You will be well on your way to a great job!

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Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc., and founder of DirectoryOfCareers.ca. He can be reached at kmakra@sentormedia.com.


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