FRIDAY 22 JAN 2016 3:27 PM


Soft skills such as communication, decision making and strong leadership are being increasingly overlooked in favour of hard skills such as technical ability and type speed; despite their desirability in the digital sector.

Research by digital recruitment agency the Candidate highlights communication as one of the most desirable skills in the digital industry, with 65% of managers citing this as their preferred trait in an employee. Concern that the preference for hard skills, such as programming and statistical analysis, was to the detriment of the industry was also expressed by 69% of those surveyed.

With digital strategy relying so heavily on strong internal communications and employer brand management, the notion that hard skills are being favoured over these ‘soft skills’ is perhaps surprising. Managerial roles rely heavily on the ability to form and sustain strong employer-employee relationships, which in turn can affect how a business is perceived externally.

Nevertheless, ‘hard skills’ aren’t yet redundant in digital management positions; 27% of the managers surveyed cited them as a top three requirement. The ever-changing face of the digital industry undoubtedly requires those in leadership positions to be aware of technical challenges, and to be able to respond if the need arises. However, this should not be to the detriment of skills which combine to create a friendly, hardworking environment.

Brian Matthews, managing partner of the Candidate, says, “It can’t be stressed enough the importance of quality managers in the digital sector, as it battles against a skills shortage that is preventing its expected growth. It’s great for emerging talent to have technical abilities, but it’s important not to overlook soft skills, too.”

“Attitudes need changing within the industry so that we nurture the managerial talent that we have, in order to pass on important soft and hard skills. Otherwise, there is a risk of being left with an unbalanced and unhappy workforce that don’t have all of the skills required to keep digital businesses growing.”