Stress management and emotional intelligence are emerging as some of the sought-after soft skills employers are looking for in candidates as hybrid work is underscoring the importance of these traits in collaborating well with remote teammates and handling unpredictable situations.
Digital recruiter Taggd's recent annual hiring outlook report 'Decoding Jobs Industry Sectoral Reports 2022' listed adaptability & flexibility, problem-solving, stress management and emotional intelligence as the top soft skills in demand among employers.
Randstad India's Chief People Officer Anjali Raghuvanshi says the criteria for the selection of an ideal candidate have expanded in the past couple of years to include emotional intelligence, stress management abilities and interpersonal communication skills.
"Much of this change comes from the transition of workplaces from 'work at the office' to 'work from home' which required the candidate to be able to manage unpredictable situations with a certain level of pressure," Raghuvansh notes.
Agreeing that these are among the soft skills they look for in candidates, Hardeep Singh, President of Right Management India, part of ManpowerGroup India, says, "Once these skill sets are in place the chance of having friction among employees will reduce and consequently bring down the stress level at the workplace."
To be sure, employers have always assessed soft skills like communication, negotiation and conflict resolution among others. But stress management is a fresh inclusion necessitated after the pandemic experience, recruiters say. This also comes against the backdrop of employers themselves going full throttle on mental health measures as part of employee wellness.
According to recruitment firm TeamLease's recent 'Career Outlook Report' for January to June 2022, top soft skills employers expect freshers to possess are analytical thinking and innovation, stress management, communication skills, emotional intelligence and positive attitude.
The findings had TeamLease Edtech's Co-founder and President Neeti Sharma remarking about "an interesting shift over the last few years". "Organisations focus equally or more on the soft skills as much as they focus on hard skills while hiring employees," she states.
While the TeamLease study findings were about freshers, recruiters say the skills are required across levels. "As we go higher up the organisation hierarchy, we lay higher emphasis on the competencies of emotional quotient and the ability to deal with stressful situations. Although all employers do not explicitly mention this, we notice that they check for these competencies in their assessment process," says Aditya Mishra, Director and CEO, CIEL HR Services.
There are assessment tests and stress interviews to gauge the EQ levels of a candidate and how they deal with stressful situations, the recruiters say. "Interviews with scenario-based questions, asking them for a situation in their life where they managed stressful situations, diverse teams or unfamiliar scenarios," says Mishra.
"Reference checks also provide significant amounts of insights into a person's EQ levels and style of working under stress," he adds.
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