Determine if an Engineering Applicant Has Good Soft Skills With These Two Tips

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Determine if an Engineering Applicant Has Good Soft Skills With These Two Tips

16 February 2018
 Categories: Business, Blog


Although the quality of applicant's technical skills may be critical to the position you need to fill, it shouldn't be the only thing you look at. To ensure you get a balanced employee who can work well with others and fill a variety of roles you may put the person in (e.g. team leader), it's important you also look at the extent and quality of the individual's soft skills (e.g. communication, leadership ability). Here are two things you should look at on applicants' resumes to help you pick great engineers.

Progression of Responsibility

A person's work history can tell you many things about the individual. While it can confirm whether the person has the skills needed to get the job done, it can also provide insight into the individual's communication, teamworking, and leadership skills.

First, the actual positions the person held can be indicative of the person's experience using said skills. For instance, if the person worked in groups a lot, that can indicate he or she has some interpersonal skills. A person's who job involved writing reports or meeting with higher-ups can show communication skills.

Second, and more importantly, a person's progression up the career ladder can also tell you a lot about the individual's soft skills. It's great if the person has been part of a number of teams. If the person has never advanced to team leader or held a supervisory position, however, that may indicate an issue. Likewise, someone who has moved from team member, to team leader, to supervisor, etc. has obviously demonstrated to previous employers that he or she has the soft skills needed to fill those roles.

Keep in mind how long the person has been working altogether and adjust your judgments accordingly. Someone who has just started his or her career may not have had as many opportunities to take on different roles than someone who has been working in the industry for a decade.

Social Media/Internet Presence

Another way you can get an idea of a person's soft skills is by taking a look at the person's social media presence. Most everyone has a social media account of some kind these days, and many engineers (especially Millennials) will start blogs and other accounts to develop an online portfolio to attract and present to potential employers.

Since social media requires people to directly engage with a wide spectrum of individuals, viewing an applicant's social media account can provide you with an idea of how the person will handle themselves in the work place. As a bonus, a person's internet presence can also clue you into the applicant's problematic behaviors that could potentially turn into PR and HR nightmares down the road.

For instance, irecently, the New York Times came under fire for hiring a journalist for their Op-Ed section who had a history of using race- and sexuality-based slurs. Although the NYT fired the person before she could actually write for them, the damage to the brand was already done. This could've easily been prevented by actually reviewing the person's social media accounts during the interview process.

This is not to say you can't hire someone who has a troubling social media/internet presence. Be aware, though, that you may have to defend hiring the person if something happens that could've been predicted based on the things the applicant posted on his or her social media accounts. At the very least, you should use the information you glean from those accounts to ensure the person will fit in with your corporate culture and can perform the job as required.

To quickly find applicants to fill open positions at your company, make use of a resume posting service to search engineer resumes.