Personality matters. Repeated surveys of HR professionals and hiring managers have shown that they make their final hiring decisions based on a candidates interpersonal skills in the job interview.

Well, a new survey of Canadian employers just released yesterday reveals the soft skills that are the most in-demand. Express Employment Professionals from 22 locations across the country were asked to name the “top five most important soft skills an applicant should have.”

It turns out that what is most important to employers is finding candidates who are dependable and reliable. Having a positive work ethic, demonstrating that you will be motivated to show up on time, work hard and get the job done seems to be the key to winning the job.

The top five soft skills Canadian employers are looking for:

    Communication (verbal)

“It’s easy to think that all that matters in a job interview is what’s on your resume, but the truth is employers are equally, if not, more concerned with who you are, as a worker and as a fellow employee. Those are your soft skills,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express.

Interestingly, a survey of Human Resources professionals released earlier this month found that the majority (69%) of employers say that it’s a candidate’s hard or technical skills on a resume that will determine if they’re chosen for an interview.

Once at the interview, however, according to 56% those same HR professionals surveyed, it’s your soft skills, especially interpersonal relations that will get you the job.

“There’s no secret password for getting hired, however job seekers can increase their chances by highlighting hard skills in their resumes and demonstrating soft skills during the interview process,” said Joe Weinlick, VP Marketing at “Many job seekers have the right ingredients; now they need to put them in the right order.”

The technical skills required are going to vary widely from job to job, so read the job posting carefully before applying and make sure that your resume clearly highlights your ability to do the work.

Then at the interview, seal the deal by demonstrating your work ethic, enthusiasm for the role, and communication skills.

“Not only is it important to be dependable, committed, and motivated, it’s essential that you show would-be employers that you have those qualities. While you can always be trained to learn new hard skills, soft skills are much more reflective of your personality and nature,” says Bob Funk.

Technical qualifications on your resume will get your foot in the door for the interview, but your soft skills at the interview are what can get you hired.

How Canadian employers ranked the importance of qualifications in candidates:

    Dependability/Reliability- 70%
    Communication (verbal) – 55%
    Motivation – 45%
    Enthusiasm – 40%
    Flexibility/Adaptability – 35%
    Commitment – 35%
    Listening – 35%
    Interpersonal abilities – 30%
    Initiative – 25%
    Team work – 25%
    Confidence – 15%
    Problem solving – 15%
    Dedication – 15%
    Communication (written) – 10%
    Professionalism – 10%
    Time management – 10%
    Personal values – 5%
    Customer service – 5%
    Loyalty – 5%

Interestingly, loyalty falls to the bottom of this list of priorities. This could be an indicator of a trend we have been seeing in the workplace recently where both candidates and employers are tending to think more short-term. Employers are hiring for their immediate needs, delivering this quarter or this year’s numbers, rather than team-building for the future. Candidates seem to be changing jobs and employers more frequently in order to advance their careers. (See: Job hopping is the new normal.)

Peter Harris

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