Which are more important: soft skills or hard skills?
I’ve worked in the tech talent industry for 10+ years and know the great value of hard engineering skills. Yet, there’s no doubt that soft skills have become essential to business success, with 78% of HR managers increasing their efforts to find tech workers with strong soft skills.
Soft skills are notably critical for the tech sector, where hybrid teams are constantly innovating new products at rapid rates. Studies report that employee soft skills can increase company revenue by $90,000+ through values such as creativity, collaboration, and adaptability.
Of course, finding candidates with top soft skills is no easy feat, especially when you’re seeking global talent in regions where you may not have expertise. As a specialist in Latin American tech talent, I have on-the-ground experience with how to hire IT professionals in LatAm with exceptional soft skills – here’s how!
The Importance of Soft Skills in the Tech Industry
Soft skills involve any interpersonal abilities and behaviors that help people work well together and successfully meet project goals.
By 2030, 2 out of 3 jobs will be soft skill intensive – and there are numerous reasons why. In the tech industry, soft skills play a vital role in developing products, as they help teams:
- Focus on the business value of the IT project
- Communicate with non-technical stakeholders
- Adapt to changing project requirements
- Increase project efficiencies
- Drive higher employee engagement
- Harness innovative ideas
Examples of In-Demand Soft Skills
The most commonly cited soft skills in job descriptions are collaboration (22.5%) and innovation (19.2%), though other popular traits include communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
In addition, LinkedIn’s 2023 survey reported “management” as the #1 most in-demand soft skill. This makes sense, considering that a project manager’s soft skills can sway project success by as much as 78%.
Key Soft Skills in the Tech Industry
Soft skills in the tech industry are closely linked to the agile methodology, which involves continually iterating to achieve the best possible end product. This requires a close-knit, collaborative environment that prioritizes constant communication, adaptability, efficiency, transparency, and more.
That’s why agile-powered teams need hires with outstanding soft skills. Without them, collaboration and teamwork can erode, slowing down the project and potentially causing conflict.
It makes sense then that tech employees often cite “empathy” as a key soft skill, while tech employers mention “resilience” 1.8 times more often than other industries.
The Challenges of Hiring for Soft Skills in Latin America
Companies often focus exclusively on technical skills during the hiring process, but it’s just as important to cover soft skills. This is especially true given that Latin America has a unique cultural context and you’ll want to ensure your hire is well-aligned with your hybrid team.
Other barriers that companies face when seeking LatAm talent with excellent interpersonal skills include:
- Not having the local expertise to discover talent.
- Not knowing how to parse engineering resumes from the region.
- Not staying open to unconventional engineering backgrounds.
- Not taking the pulse on cultural fit in the context of Latin America.
- Not accurately screening soft skills before hiring.
Despite these challenges, there’s plenty your company can do to successfully hire developers with top soft skills. Take it from a guy who’s been in the talent industry for a decade: you’ll want to go beyond the resume and get to know your candidates to identify their soft skill potential.
4 Strategies for Hiring Soft Skills in Latin America
As you look for tech talent in Latin America with exceptional soft skills, boost your search with these key strategies.
1. Incorporate Soft Skills into Your Job Descriptions
78% of global job posts highlighted soft skills in 2022. If you haven’t yet already, be sure to include soft skills in your job description so that you attract the right candidates.
Build your job description with LatAm candidates in mind, too. Developers in Latin America don’t typically job hop, compared to the U.S. where 80% of tech workers are looking for a new job.
Overall, LatAm candidates truly want to find the ideal role that combines an empathetic, human team with job security. Showcase your positive workplace culture in the job description to attract these highly dedicated developers.
2. Leverage Behavioral Interviewing Techniques
Of course, tweaking the job description is just the first step. To verify that your candidates have excellent interpersonal skills, screen for them during the interview.
63% of traditional interviews fail to assess candidates’ soft skills, which is why you should utilize behavioral interview techniques or soft skill assessments. These in-depth questions focus on past experiences and personal attributes.
Often they’re based on situations (“Tell me about a time when…”) or (“How would you handle…?”). By asking behavioral interview questions, you’ll get a better sense of your candidate’s communication skills, cultural fit, work style, and leadership potential.
3. Provide Training & Professional Development Opportunities
While not all soft skills can be taught, you may be able to upskill candidates with potential. 1 of every 4 employers has a hard time finding entry-level candidates because they lack soft skills.
You might create a mentorship program to boost developers’ interpersonal skills or give them an education budget to pursue their interests. Some companies also host a workshop series or hire a specialist to handle soft skill training. At TECLA, for example, we provide tech-specific English and soft skill training to bridge gaps on your team.
4. Create a Company Culture that Values & Rewards Soft Skills
Your company culture is your greatest asset for hiring elite developers. Just consider that 56% of job seekers say a good workplace culture is “more important than salary.” Though your culture may seem abstract, it’s important to build and refine it to value soft skills.
This includes praising team members on your virtual office space and rewarding them for efforts (with bonuses, extra time off, or a first pick of a new project). Get the whole company involved through peer-to-peer recognition, too.
Some actions you should add to your recognition roll call include:
- Coming up with a creative solution
- Successfully managing a conflict or difficult client
- Giving negative feedback in a constructive way
- Rallying a team for a challenging project
- Showing progress in soft skill improvement
Harness the Power of Soft Skills for Your Tech Team
At the end of the day, 67% of employers have withheld a job offer to a tech candidate due to a lack of soft skills. As you look for LatAm talent with top soft skills, make sure to utilize the strategies we discussed above to capture the right candidates. In this way, your company will be closer to finding the first-rate talent it needs to bring together stronger teams and build better products.