During the recruitment process, the assessment of technical knowledge is generally carried out well. It is sometimes necessary to read between the lines of a CV to understand its nuances, but between two profiles with similar technical skills, the best candidate is usually identified. It is at the level of general skills (soft skills) that it becomes more complex and that it can be difficult to distinguish between true and false. However, these are essential qualities!


The definition of soft skills

Soft skills encompass all of a candidate's relational, transversal, behavioural and organisational skills. According to a recent LinkedIn survey of more than 5,000 talent management professionals in 35 countries, the most sought-after skills for employers are:


- Creativity

- Persuasion

- Collaboration

- Adaptability

- Time management


Creativity is essential in project management and would be both the most in demand and the rarest skill. Many mistakenly believe that creativity is only relevant in art or design - it is actually a skill that applies to almost every role. It's all about demonstrating that you can solve a problem in an original way. Something that machines can hardly reproduce!



The lack of soft skills associated with 89% of poor hires

According to the same survey, poor hires have deficiencies in soft skills in 45% of cases, and a combined lack of technical/soft skills in 44% of cases. By adding these two statistics, we can deduce that when a candidate disappoints, nine times out of ten, the weakness of soft skills is part of the problem.



Soft skills required for a project manager

In addition to the five skills above - desirable for any candidate - the project management environment presents distinct challenges that require additional soft skills. In my experience, here are the essential skills of a project manager:


- Communication

- Leadership

- Team management

- Negotiation

- Risk Management

- Overview of the situation


This represents eleven traits to be assessed at the time of recruitment. And unlike technical skills, the intangible nature of soft skills can make them very difficult to measure.



Tips to enhance soft skills

When writing their CV, a job-seeking project manager should support their text with concrete examples of achievements. For example, it may mention the implementation of a new working method or good practices. 


For an employer who publishes a job offer, it is important to clearly identify his expectations regarding soft skills. These can vary greatly depending on the industry and the workplace. To benefit from an effective interview questionnaire, human resources professionals should use recognized platforms such as Koru, Pymetrics and Plum, or hire the services of specialized recruitment firms such as PM Finder.


Roger Croteau

President and founder of PM Finder, a company specializing in the recruitment of project management professionals, Roger Croteau has more than 35 years of experience in the field. He has held senior positions in large telecommunications and engineering organizations, as well as in municipal government.