Employee Training

Are You Tired of Hiring People Who Lack Baseline Communications Skills?

Are You Tired of Hiring People Who Lack Baseline Communications Skills?
Image credit: Mickey Burton
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Recruiters are struggling to find talent with baseline skills, like writing, communication and organizational skills. According to the 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey by Jobvite, 56 percent of the 1,404 recruiting and human resources professionals surveyed said that a lack of such skills acted as a major block in the job market.

Related: The 10 Unique Soft Skills Employers Desire in New Hires

So, maybe it’s time for employers to focus on finding these skills, in order to acquire talented employees and build a strong team.

How can companies screen for these skills that are in such high demand but so difficult to find? Follow these steps:

1. Create training programs and internships to cultivate talent.

Start by building internal programs before you even post positions. Not to put the cart before the horse, but these internal programs can play a crucial role in molding your team members in a fast and efficient way. When a company is confident in its processes, it can conduct a screening with clear expectations for the applicant at an early stage.

Converting new hires and interns into strong, reliable team members is important not only to company culture but also to financial resources. To put it simply, onboarding and training are not cheap, so establishing learning objectives and goals and designing a training program are crucial moves for growth.

Start with a training-needs assessment, which identifies goals, specifies tasks that new hires should perform to meet those goals and pinpoints the educational programs that will help employees realize the individual characteristics you need.

With internal programs in place, employers will be ready to identify the specific skills needed.

2. Determine the specific skills needed to fit the position.

Next, identify the specific baseline skills needed to fit the position being posted. Look at all facets of the job and lay out everything that comes to mind, such as the physical and mental tasks required, the ability to prioritize and a sense of organizational awareness. Being specific is essential.

Run through the processes and methods of workflow involved with this position. Ask why the job exists and how it interacts with other departments. Talk to people in the same network who work in a similar position and get an idea of their daily obligations.

The goal at this stage is to paint a full picture of the ideal candidate, which will be used to write the job listing. With this in mind, hiring managers can clearly identify the particular abilities they are looking for.

3. Check social media for writing and communication skills.

With the specific skills needed now clearly defined, the hiring manager can use social media to screen an applicant's writing and communication skills, while also gaining a glimpse into the candidate's personality.

Online profiles may be viewed as an extension of the person. Facebook, Twitter and the like aren't just places recruiters scout for profane language or explicit content. More important is the fact that recruiters can gauge skill sets and review basic writing and communication skills. An applicant's status update about a restaurant that's failed to provide the best chicken merlot she's ever eaten isn’t going to be the same as a proposal for a client.

But if this person is failing to use spell-check or proper punctuation, or is using overly harsh language, the hiring manager might want to take note.

LinkedIn can also be examined for specific skill sets and evidence that an applicant is actively engaged in his or her industry. Also, look over the applicant's profiles to ensure they are filled out fully and appear consistent.

Once the hiring manager finds applicants with strong writing and communication skills and a passion for the industry, it is time to screen for additional baseline skills.

Related: Employees Yearn to Learn. Here's What Employers Can Do to Help.

4. Administer tests for an accurate look at skill sets.

It is never too early to start assessing potential employees and to confirm that an applicant has the abilities he or she claims on a resume. Utilize platforms like Prosky, which provides a place for candidates to demonstrate both the hard and soft skills needed for the position.

Take this opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses that can suggest whether or not to interview an applicant. If the applicant proves the skills he or she claims to possess, it's time to bring that candidate in.

5. Look for communication skills in the interview.

Finally, after all the above steps are complete, it’s time to screen in the interview for the necessary baseline skills, including communication.

In a 2014 study of 2,978 job seekers and HR professionals conducted by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com, 83 percent of respondents said their companies were looking for communication skills. Those skills were valued as the second most important attribute, behind only "positive attitude" (84 percent).

The interview is where the candidate proves himself or herself and where the employer can gauge every type of communication skill, including nonverbal cues.

During and after the interview, take notes on everything, from the tone of voice and language used, to the subtle mannerisms and gestures exhibited throughout. Every element of a personal encounter can indicate something larger, like a sense of confidence and ambition or a personality prone to nerves and anxiety.

With these notes completed, and a sense of the overall energy of the interaction gauged, the hiring manager has the tools to examine the applicant’s communication skills thoroughly.

What does your process say about how you screen and hire for baseline skills?

Related: Employers Are Demanding Hard Skills Over Soft Skills, and How Millennials Can Help