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HomeHR & Recruitment TrendsTalent ManagementHow to Efficiently Evaluate Hard, Soft, and Mad Skills for Top Talent

How to Efficiently Evaluate Hard, Soft, and Mad Skills for Top Talent


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The process of recruiting top talent goes far beyond simply evaluating qualifications listed on a resume. It’s about comprehending the broad spectrum of skills that potential employees bring along—these include hard skills, soft skills, and the relatively new concept, ‘mad’ skills. Having a solid understanding of these distinct skill types can paint a comprehensive portrait of a candidate, thereby refining recruitment strategies and uncovering remarkable talent. Here we will explore these three pivotal categories of skills, indispensable in identifying the best fit for a job role.

The first step in making an informed decision is to get familiar with these different skills, diving into crucial questions about their nature, how they can be evaluated, and why they are integral to the recruitment process. By doing so, we can reveal the unique value each skill category holds and the insights it provides about a candidate’s potential compatibility within an organization.

What Exactly Are Hard Skills?

‘Hard skills’ refer to technical abilities a candidate acquires through formal education, training programs, or practical experience. They could range from fluency in a foreign language, competence with a specific tool, or knowledge of a particular computer language. These skills enable recruiters to quickly establish if the candidate’s profile aligns with the job’s requirements.

Moreover, hard skills have the advantage of being developable throughout one’s career via professional training or experiential learning. In 2021, some of the most sought-after hard skills included Blockchain, Video Design, Cloud Computing, Web Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), UX Design, Business Development, Affiliate Marketing, and Online Sales.

Why Should We Pay Attention to Soft Skills?

While hard skills are crucial, they don’t shed light on a candidate’s personality. Herein lies the significance of ‘soft’ skills. Soft skills refer to interpersonal abilities and personality traits, which, although harder to quantify, play a pivotal role in a harmonious workplace.

These skills are rooted in a person’s relational and emotional intelligence and are often more inherent than hard skills. To decipher a candidate’s soft skills, recruiters might conduct behavioral interviews or engage in discussions with the candidate’s previous employers. In 2022, the top four soft skills recruiters looked for were Adaptability, Virtual Communication Skills, Independence, and Cooperation.

How Do Mad Skills Make a Candidate Stand Out?

The newest addition to the skills lexicon is ‘mad skills.’ These skills, often considered unconventional or quirky, provide a distinctive insight into a candidate’s personality. They may involve anything from artistic pursuits, volunteer work, personal projects, or experiences in the startup world—elements that could signal a strong character.

By paying attention to these mad skills, recruiters can unearth unique and innovative candidates, thereby adding a creative twist to their talent pool. Some mad skills highly admired by recruiters include those demonstrating resilience, kindness, and adaptability, such as years spent overseas, managing a YouTube channel, or running an Instagram account dedicated to a hobby.

How to Strike the Right Balance Between These Skills?

Rather than focusing on just one category, the real strength lies in appreciating how these skill types complement one another. Hard skills offer an element of reassurance, soft skills highlight the human aspect, and mad skills bring in an element of dynamism and originality.

For candidates, it’s advisable to display a balanced blend of these skills, transforming their CV into an engaging narrative. Instead of merely cataloguing their competencies, they should share personal experiences or significant life events—both triumphs and tribulations can become persuasive elements in a job interview, helping them stand out from the crowd.

Why is Personality-based Recruitment Becoming a Trend?

The era of the traditional CV is fading. Recruiters today are looking beyond just resumes, as they often focus more on hard skills and give a limited snapshot of a candidate’s overall potential. While hard skills provide a sense of security to recruiters, they don’t always reflect a candidate’s personality or interpersonal qualities.

Technical expertise can be gained over time through training or experience, but human qualities and unconventional, or mad skills, are often more challenging to acquire. A professional’s personality cannot be endlessly reshaped. If a job role requires continual learning or strong teamwork, focusing on a candidate’s adaptability or social skills is paramount. While most employees can quickly learn new skills, reversing a poor attitude or incompatible work ethic is a much more challenging task.

In conclusion, understanding and evaluating hard, soft, and mad skills can significantly enhance the recruitment process, enabling recruiters to find the right fit for a role, and allowing candidates to tell their unique story.

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