Head of Badenoch & Clark
The Adecco Group just released its Swiss Job Market index. At first glance, the results reveal no real surprises. Job adverts fell 20% across Switzerland during the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the first quarter of 2020. This is of course due to the brutal fall in economic activity that Switzerland has experienced during the course of two national lockdowns (see chart 1).
It is fair to say that Swiss companies are still recovering, which is why recruitment activity hasn't yet fully recovered. Swiss companies are still however hiring. They still need talented workers. They need to plan ahead for what comes after the pandemic.
This is significant because there is a strong likelihood that Switzerland could experience a significant economic recovery in the years to come, resulting in a sharp increase in recruitment activity. The result could be the creation of new jobs and new opportunities within Switzerland.
Chart one: The decline in job adverts match the decline in economic activity in Switzerland
It is the subtleties in these results that are interesting
What intrigued me the most about the index results, were the subtleties that it revealed. Despite the decline in demand for recruitment, there was also a perceivable shift in what companies think the ideal candidate should be. I believe a lot of this can be explained by the new work environment that we now find ourselves in.
Across the country, it is now mandatory to work from home if you can do so. Subsequently, this has created a more disparate workforce that has needed to remain both operationally efficient and productive outside the office environment.
The index managed to capture what were the most requested skills in job adverts during the first quarter of this year. It noted a strong pickup in demand for social skills, especially across professions in commerce and sales, management and organisation, finance and fiduciary services as well as in office and administration.
These skills were required in more than two-thirds of the job advertisements studied. They included skills in communication, cooperation, sociability and assertiveness. The most requested social skill overall was in communication, which appeared in 38% of adverts (see chart 2).
Chart 2: The most requested social skill was communication
Driving this demand for good communication skills was the need for future candidates to understand human nature, be diplomatic and be able to forge strong relationships in the roles advertised.
Communication skills have always been important, but during the pandemic their importance seems to have increased quite significantly.
It is not difficult to understand why. All good relationships start with good communication. And many relationships end when communication breaks down. When companies hire new candidates they take a risk. Although it's easy to establish whether or not a candidate has the talent to do the role they have been hired for, it is difficult to assess whether or not they will be a good fit socially for the company. This is particularly difficult when the candidates they hire may have never stepped into the company's own office.
In an office environment, when employees are in close proximity to each other, it is easier for them to communicate. This is well understood in recruitment, which is why many companies prefer face-to-face interviews with talented candidates. It's easier to have a conversation with them in an interview, to read their body language and get an overall feel for who they are and whether they would be a good fit for the company.
Most relationships break down because of bad communication. This is the biggest risk that most companies face with a remote workforce. Getting teams to work together productively can be hugely challenging if team members do not communicate with each other effectively. There's also a whole new set of social skills that are required when working remotely.
As a candidate you can turn this to your advantage
If you are a talented candidate and are looking for your next role then you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Swiss companies no longer want to see candidates that just look good according to their professional qualifications. They also want candidates that demonstrate good communication skills and the ability to work autonomously in a remote environment.
With this knowledge a candidate can tilt the recruitment process to their advantage by demonstrating these skills while being interviewed. By marketing themselves as a social and communicative individual, a candidate will present a quality that is in strong demand right now. It also demonstrates the potential for strong leadership skills in the future.
My takeaway from the Adecco Job Index this quarter is that better communication skills might make the difference in landing your next job.