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Why Soft Skills Matter In The Creative Industries

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In an era of unprecedented change and innovation, businesses are recognising the undeniable value of soft skills. These interpersonal and social abilities, while often intangible, prove to be immensely valuable, especially in the creative industries. 

In our Creative Industries Census 2023, we reported that 42% of employers within the creative industries found a disconnect in the skills landscape. Either they were unable to recruit someone with the right skills or their current employees didn't possess the required competencies. Amidst this gap, a shift towards valuing soft skills has emerged. LinkedIn's Future of Recruiting report corroborates this, revealing that more companies are embracing a skills-based approach to talent acquisition. This approach centres on skills rather than on education or past work experience, offers a myriad of benefits: reducing bias, increasing talent pipeline diversity, and widening the talent pool to improve internal and external mobility opportunities.

Decoding Soft Skills in the Creative Industry

Soft skills are personal attributes that influence how we interact effectively and harmoniously with others. Communication, collaboration, problem-solving, adaptability, and emotional intelligence are all prime examples of soft skills that, while less tangible than hard skills, play a crucial role in the creative industry.

Communication in this context is much more than verbal articulation. It involves conveying ideas effectively, understanding others, and building rapport. In creative roles, communication can range from explaining a complex design concept to a client, sharing constructive feedback with a team, or even selling an innovative idea to stakeholders.

Collaboration is about more than just teamwork. It implies an ability to work well with others, bringing together diverse perspectives to create something unique and meaningful. It involves understanding and respecting different working styles, cultures, and personalities. In the creative space, effective collaboration often sparks groundbreaking ideas and the successful execution of projects.

Problem-solving is a pivotal soft skill in the creative industry. It involves the ability to think critically, generate innovative solutions to complex problems, navigate ambiguous situations, and make sound decisions under pressure. Creatives often find themselves in uncharted territories, where textbook solutions don't apply, and here, problem-solving abilities prove indispensable.

Adaptability in the creative industry involves the ability to respond quickly to change - be it shifts in market trends, customer expectations, or project deadlines. It's about staying resilient in the face of uncertainty and using it as a springboard for innovation.

Emotional intelligence involves recognising and managing our own emotions and the emotions of others. It plays a pivotal role in managing relationships, fostering empathy, handling stress, and navigating conflict. In creative roles, this could mean empathising with a client's vision, managing conflict within a team, or staying resilient in the face of criticism.

The Intersection of Hard Skills and Soft Skills

Understanding the juxtaposition of hard skills vs. soft skills is essential. Hard skills refer to the technical knowledge and job-specific skills that you can learn, such as graphic design, data analysis, or SEO expertise. Soft skills, on the other hand, are more personality-based, comprising of traits like teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving.

While hard skills may get your foot in the door, soft skills open it wide. Hard skills are indeed important - they're measurable, teachable, and specific to each job. However, soft skills influence how these hard skills are utilised and how individuals collaborate and communicate ideas. They shape the dynamics within a team and can often be the determining factor of whether a creative project thrives or falters. 

Assessing Soft Skills in Hiring: Methods and Techniques

Given the critical role of soft skills, it's essential to incorporate their assessment into the hiring process. The first step is recognising the need to do so, and the next is knowing how. 

Here are a few techniques to help you assess soft skills effectively:

Behavioural Interviewing: This involves asking candidates to describe specific instances where they demonstrated soft skills. Questions could range from, "Tell me about a time you had to adapt quickly to a sudden change in a project?" to "How did you handle a conflict within your team?"

Role-Playing Scenarios: Role-playing or situational judgement tests can provide insights into a candidate's problem-solving, decision-making, and communication skills. These scenarios serve as practical examples of soft skills at work.

Psychometric Testing: Although not a definitive measure, such tests can offer useful insights into a candidate's personality traits, emotional intelligence, and how they might fit into a team.

Reference Checking: Speaking to previous colleagues, managers, or professors can provide further insights about a candidate's soft skills. It allows you to gain a better understanding of their interpersonal skills, reliability, and capacity to work in a team.

Soft skills are vital for the modern workplace and interpersonal abilities are increasingly shaping the dynamics of creative teams, influencing the quality of work, and impacting the competitiveness of businesses in the creative industry. It’s not only important for talent to possess these skills, but for hiring managers and talent acquisition professionals to ensure they are assessed in the hiring process. By doing so, the creative industries can address the skills gap, stimulate innovation, facilitate transformation, and enhance competitiveness.

For more insights into our Creative Industries Census 2023, click here