You would be hard pressed to find companies that are not investing in soft skills today. Organizations of all kinds are now recognizing the qualities that formal education and technical training cannot capture within a workforce. Personality traits, motivations and behaviors of employees have taken center stage as employers race to find new ways to attract and retain top talent.

Unfortunately, there are also plenty of misconceptions about soft skills. No, it’s not enough for a company to ask for “team players” with “great communication skills” in a job description; soft skills are much more personal than that. Cultivating a culture centered around empowering individuals to express their true, unique selves requires time and attention. 

To get serious about soft skills, it’s time to dispel some of the top myths surrounding them, including that they’re based on gut feelings, less valuable than hard skills and best understood by placing people into groups. 

You can’t measure soft skills.

How much can a gut feeling really tell you about a person? Due to the influence of a variety of biases, it turns out that the answer is not much! From hyperfocusing on one trait to gravitating toward people like ourselves, human beings can’t help but fall into cognitive traps. Yet, many hiring managers still rely heavily on first impressions and the idea that soft skills are mysterious concepts, incapable of being captured.

Thankfully, this notion is incorrect. By applying the principles of sound science steeped in people analytics, hiring professionals and managers can measure and apply soft skills during the hiring process and when building team management strategies. Personality assessments, when administered thoughtfully, can provide insights that go far beyond gut feeling alone. The best way to cut through unconscious bias in hiring is to provide quantifiable results that can be compared in order to build better teams. 

Hard skills are the only requirement for certain jobs.

In many ways, the rise of remote work has been a blessing and a curse. Employers have seen their hiring pool expand now that candidates can come from anywhere thanks to the power of technology. However, a new fallacy has led to a number of failed hiring decisions – “Who needs softs skills when you only work from home?” 

This flawed line of thinking can apply to any number of technical roles that might not include some of the outward-facing hallmarks many people associate with soft skills, such as customer service interactions. Contrary to popular belief, soft skills encapsulate the entire scope of personality – from critical thinking to empathy and the need for structure. In short, soft skills are meaningful no matter the role or workplace setting. 

Everyone is a type. 

You’re probably familiar with personality tests that group individuals together in categories or types. If you’ve ever taken a Myers Briggs, Enneagram or “Which Hogwarts House Do You Belong To?” quiz, you’ve experienced soft skills through what is known as “type theory.” 

At Talentoday, we have a saying – show your traits, not your type. Sure, grouping people together in neat categories like ENFJ or Hufflepuff can be a convenient shorthand, but people are more complex than these types give them credit for. When it really comes down to it, individuals most likely land on a scale of gray area than these rigid, black and white designations – and that’s okay! For employers, there’s value in understanding complexity when building teams. This not only improves the ability to get the best work out individuals, but also helps determine the best way for managers and colleagues to work together to achieve goals as a team.

Rethinking Soft Skills

For too long, misconceptions about soft skills have led to poor decision making in team building and management. If businesses are serious about committing to reshaping their workforce, it’s time to ditch gut feelings, stop downplaying soft skills for certain roles and move past type-casting their teams. 

Are you ready to start hiring better with science-driven people analytics? Learn how Talentoday’s MyPrint assessment can provide a deeper understanding of your employees personality traits, motivations and behaviors.