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May 21, 2018

According to a recent study from the biz/tech consulting firm, West Monroe Partners, 1 in 3 millennial HR professionals surveyed said they frequently pass on an IT job candidate if they don’t have strong soft skills.

Tech jobs aren’t easy to fill, but you want to make sure your new hire is great both behind and in front of the screen. So, if you’re tired of hiring people who look good on paper but can’t collaborate or write well to save their lives, you should start by hiring a millennial to lead the change.

West Monroe Partners, a business and technology consultancy's latest study “Closing the Technology Leadership Gap,” investigates the state of soft skills, defined as communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and leadership in technology and IT hiring decisions. Specifically, it pinpoints the lack of focus on soft skills in today’s workplaces as the cause of productivity, innovation and growth issues.

The report found that, while the importance of soft skills has increased significantly over the past three years, many companies don’t train for these capabilities on technology teams – including IT. The study also found that leadership is technology employees’ most underdeveloped soft skill.

“To stay competitive in today’s digital world, business leaders need to enlist a holistic mindset regarding technologists’ skillsets,” said Kevin McCarty, president and CEO of West Monroe. “Some of today’s best leaders come from a technology background, and we need more of them. To remain on the forefront of innovation, companies need to put their technologists in a position to lead. They also must prioritize soft skills and leadership training as part of continued growth and development.”

West Monroe surveyed 1,250 individuals across two surveys made up of 600 HR and recruiting professionals, and 650 full-time employees who regularly work with their company’s technology teams. Key highlights include:

HR Leaders Want Soft Skills (But They Don’t Cultivate Them)
98 percent of HR leaders say soft skills are important in landing a technology position - so important that 67 percent say they have withheld a job offer from an otherwise qualified technical candidate solely because they lacked soft skills.

They ranked verbal communication and collaboration the most important soft skills. Once a hired, however, most companies don’t invest in developing their technology professionals’ soft skills further. In fact, around one-quarter of companies provide soft skills training to line-of-business employees, but not to IT.

Technology Professionals Aren’t Seen as Leaders

HR leaders consider leadership to be the least important soft skill for prospective technology hires. Technology employees often don’t ascend the career ladder, with 39 percent of companies lacking a technology background in the c-suite. This absence affects collaboration between business and tech employees.

Lacking Soft Skills Hurts An Organization’s Ability to Innovate
43 percent of full-time employees say soft-skills-related challenges with IT have negatively impacted their work, which is problematic considering that innovative projects increasingly require employees to work alongside each other.