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Would you hire hybrid talent over specialists?

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Professionals are being well-recognised for their skills and knowledge in their respective fields but being an expert in just one dimension is no longer enough.

Today’s workplace is increasingly favouring talent that possesses both technical skills and people skills.

In a study commissioned by Bentley University, researchers examined 24 million job listings in the United States, looking for key skills across nine industries including marketing, HR, and data analysis.

They found that 71% of in-demand skills are required across more than two job categories, which means talent need to possess cross-category skills to thrive in today’s workplace.

Employees who possess hard skills such as database technology, coupled with traditional soft skills like communication and collaboration will be best-prepared for the hybrid jobs of tomorrow.

The market data proved that some previously popular jobs are in decline as their once-innovative skills have become mainstream and integrated into other roles.

For example, postings for social media strategists have fallen 64% in the last five years, even as the skill of social media strategy has risen sharply in human resource jobs (up 376 %), sales jobs (up 150 %), and marketing and PR jobs (up 117 %).

Job postings for web designers have fallen 8%, even as the skill of web design has risen 11% in marketing/PR job listings and 9% in graphic design job listings.

ALSO READ: The skills that graduate recruiters want most (and can’t find)

Another reason hybrid skills are in demand is the generational shift in the workplace, where large numbers of baby boomers are retiring and taking years of institutional knowledge and skills with them said Bentley University President Gloria Larson.

“This makes the change in job requirements even more notable. And it underscores not only the importance of effective knowledge transfer from retiring workers to new employees in the critical onboarding process, but also the need for versatile employees,” she said.

Laura Kerekes, chief knowledge officer of the human resources firm ThinkHR told Fast Company  that the challenge in hiring hybrid workers is to screen how the applicant puts it all together when a variety of hard and soft skills are required.

“Screening for the technical skills needed in the hybrid job is the easy part.  When screening for soft skills, we find that using the behavioral interviewing format is the best.  The behavioral questions asked should be tied to situations that are real in your company that this person would face in the job,“ she said.

For example, Kerekes suggests asking candidates how they handled working on a team with another person who challenged his ideas; how they handled a difficult problem with an upset customer; and how they worked with a difficult team member.

“Ask him to describe a time when he coached or mentored another team member successfully, or how he delegates work, or how he took the lead on a difficult project,” she adds. “And ask him to tell you about a mistake he made in his job, what he learned, and how he overcame it.”

Image: Shutterstock

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