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The global coronavirus pandemic with its stay-in-place measures that governments, businesses and people around the world are taking to prevent its spread, has changed all our lives and the ways we’re working. It’s shown us that it’s not only first responders who are vital employees during an emergency. There are many hard-working employees in essential industries both visible and behind the scenes who are reporting to onsite jobs and facing potential risk of exposure to the virus. These heroes are keeping supply chains flowing with needed supplies, maintaining Internet and communications systems, ensuring food supplies are delivered and protected and providing cleaning services to keep everyone working safely.

For many recruiters and hiring managers, the coronavirus crisis puts a more urgent importance on hiring workers who have the right soft skills for crisis management and are up to the task of working within an emergency situation. Calm thinking must prevail, creative problem-solving strategies are a must and health and safety protocols have to be strictly followed.

Here are three important areas to consider about your candidates’ soft skills and abilities and we’ll show you how feedback from a candidate’s references – their past managers and co-workers can best provide these insights.

Emotional maturity: “A manager who can exhibit strong self-control even in the midst of crisis is much more capable of making rational decisions, communicating clearly, and working to effectively solve the problem,” notes a Management Training Institute blog post. When confronted with a challenging situation in the past, did your job candidate keep a calm head and help meet and overcome the challenge?  These are critical insights that your candidate’s past colleagues can best provide. Ask references about a candidate’s self-control and ability to handle and respond to difficult situations.

Professionalism:   This competency doesn’t describe if your candidate looks professional, say, in a dark, blue suit. It’s about assessing how they manage themselves and more importantly, how they treat others when the pressure climbs. Like all other soft skills, the most illuminating and reliable evidence of a candidate’s professionalism comes from the people who’ve worked with them in previous roles. Professionalism is something you demonstrate – day in and day out, on the job.  And that’s why it’s so important to evaluate professionalism based on past performance in recent jobs. Consider these three behaviors that describe professionalism in almost any situation:

  • Being dependable – whether it is showing up, being on time or completing a work project within deadlines
  • Following instructions (extremely important when companies need all hands to cooperate during emergency or special situations)
  • Having a strong work ethic – not only doing the job but investing time and resources to be prepared and do the job really well.

Adaptability: Can your candidate adapt to a changing environment for example work successfully from home? Telecommuting or remote working arrangements in the U.S. spiked 159% between 2005 and 2017, Census Bureau research cited in a blog post on Flexjobs.com. With social distancing a priority to prevent infection, remote working is now required for business continuity. References can supply you with important feedback on the soft skills that are important for successful remote working, for example, managing time well, keeping lines of communication open and being productive in an unsupervised atmosphere.

There are also countless stories of how organizations, businesses and their employees are stepping up to adjust their offerings or what they do to meet current needs. For example, several liquor companies used their supplies and equipment to create hand sanitizer instead of libations. A manufacturer in New Jersey retooled its plastic products to make protective face shields for healthcare workers.  3M and Medtronic are stepping up efforts to expand production of vital face masks and respirators. All of these shifts in production require employees who will adjust to new conditions and go the extra mile.

So how do you find these kinds of employees? SkillSurvey Reference® helps you assess your candidates’ soft skills with the most predictive data of all – feedback from the people who have worked with your candidate in the past. Plus, it can boost and support remote recruiting – it’s completely accessible from any device 24/7, sends your candidates’ references job-specific surveys packed with questions about the soft skills that lead to success. And it is fast. You can reach 4 to 5 references in a day. Learn more about soft skills in this ebook.

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