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Top Non-Technical Qualities to Look for in Candidates

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Jessica Newman

October 29, 2019

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Candidate Soft Skills

Technical or specialized skills are necessary for certain jobs, especially trades and careers in science, technology and medicine. But a person with upstanding character benefits employers across all industries, arguably making some personality traits more universally valuable.

Research from the Society for Human Resource Management found that employers care more about soft skills than they do technical abilities. Here are some of the best qualities recruiters should look for in candidates:

Positive Attitude

People with positive attitudes are a fantastic addition to any team, uplifting others and creating a more positive company culture for all. Whether it’s a seemingly-impossible deadline or a disagreement between colleagues, a positive attitude can help overcome many obstacles in the workplace. That’s because a person with a positive attitude will try harder to make it work because they believe they can. It doesn’t mean they’re happy all the time; it simply means they focus more on solutions than problems, constantly choosing to persevere.


Team players are incredibly important to an organization, especially in today’s diverse workplace. A willingness to work with others—even when people’s opinions or personalities differ from one’s own— fosters a productive environment where everyone feels valued. Collaborative people make an effort to listen to their peers and respect their ideas, often leading to better business decisions through increased collaboration.


Recruiters often find falsehoods and exaggerations on resumes. These are telltale signs that an individual wouldn’t be a good hire. It doesn’t matter what credentials someone holds if the person isn’t honest. If a candidate is dishonest, they aren’t trustworthy. And how can you possibly hire someone you can’t trust? Honest employees do the right thing even when no one is looking. They don’t try to cover up mistakes or blame others. Instead, they demonstrate accountability and integrity—some of the most sought-after traits that stem from honesty.


Everyone has a role to play to keep a business moving forward, which is why dependability is such a desirable trait in candidates. Dependable employees are those you can count on. They show up at work on time and they do what they were hired to do while they’re there. Dependable people are also usually loyal employees who don’t stray to work for competitors or leak trade secrets. Because of this, people who have proven to be dependable will likely stay with a company longer than someone who jumps from job to job.


Organization cannot be undervalued. That’s because it’s such a transferable skill. From organizing priorities for the work week, to organizing an important meeting, to organizing ideas so that they can be communicated clearly, organization is the glue that holds it all together. Well-organized people rarely miss deadlines and work commitments because they make time to schedule these into their calendar and prepare for whatever needs to be done well in advance.


Creative people think differently. This out-of-the-box thinking can lead to many interesting insights and ideas, helping solve complex business problems in unexpected ways. Individuals who are creative often see patterns and make connections that other people miss thanks to increased awareness—both in themselves and the world around them. They tend to be able to express their unique perspectives very well, inspiring other employees to do the same.


When it comes to the world of work, flexibility means rolling with the punches and adapting as things change, as they inevitably do. Processes change. Priorities change. People change. Flexible people make the best of these changing circumstances and make compromises when needed to help their employer, such as coming in when someone else calls in sick or offering to take on a project that wouldn’t usually fall under their job description.
When recruiters are faced with several equally-qualified applicants, practical “soft” skills like those described above are what make certain candidates stand out from others. Don’t underestimate the power of these characteristics. They can be the difference between a mediocre hire and an all-star employee.

jessica newman Headshot

Jessica Newman

Jessica is a VidCruiter writer who cares about connecting people with meaningful work. She writes about talent attraction, HR challenges, and hiring best practices.

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