Yes, you need a finance staffer who knows the way around Excel. But some of those “softer” skills are important, too.
In fact, the majority of employers (77%) now believe soft skills are just as important as the hard ones.
Of course not all soft skills are created equal. Some may be more critical to your finance staffers’ performance than others.
A recent CareerBuilder survey gives you an idea how your peers are prioritizing them now.
A tie for first
Take a look at the top 10 traits employers look for when hiring a new employee, according to the CareerBuilder survey.
Which of these are most important to you in your finance department?
- strong work ethic (73%)
- dependable (73%)
- positive attitude (72%)
- self-motivated (66%)
- team-oriented ( 60%)
- organized, can manage multiple priorities (57%)
- works well under pressure (57%)
- effective communicator (56%)
- flexible (51%), and
- confident (46%).
You can see how each of these characteristics would strengthen your finance team.
Determining whether that staffer really has these traits
Of course no one you interview for a finance position will say that he or she is unreliable, with a negative attitude and lousy work ethic.
So how do you determine whether the individual you’re interviewing has the soft skills you want?
Actions speak louder than words in this case. You want candidates to give you examples of how they display these soft skills in previous positions.
Not only ask them for instances of how they’ve handled situations in the past, but consider giving them scenarios that could play out and ask how they’d approach them.
You might even throw out a few scenarios you’d encountered in your own finance department to uncover how candidates would react.
How would they handle a salesperson who continuously flouts your T&E policies and procedures? What would they do if a purchaser came in with a last-minute critical check request smack dab in the middle of month-end?
These answers can offer you a world of insights on what kind of fit a person would be.
Missing something? Not a lost cause
Take heart: Just because a staffer doesn’t possess one or more of these traits doesn’t mean they can’t develop them. Some of these skills can be taught.
Things like communication and organizational skills, in particular, are ones you can help bolster among staffers.
And you have a wealth of ways to do it. Sometimes an individual needs just a little one-on-one guidance and reinforcement from you. But there are also seminars on these subjects that can give folks a toolbox of skills to draw from.
Now there are even apps (many of them free) for both communication and organizational skills. That’s great for a more low-key staffer who wants to work on these soft skills on his or her own.
Another option: Modeling. ID those members of your team who are the strongest in each of the soft skills on the list above. They might make excellent choices to pair up with staffers who could use a little boost in those areas.