Industry insights. And other brain fuel!

Get J2 updates delivered straight to your inbox!

Sign up to get the weekly Friday Food for Thought email & the quarterly PULSE email.

Sign Up For Updates!

Soft Skills

What Makes A Good Project Manager

By Vijay Khatnani, Managing Partner, J2 Solutions 


The buzz around the tech world is true. There are more jobs available then there is talent. This means it’s harder to attract and retain the type of talent your company needs and both candidates and current employees are considering their options.

Last month, our VP of Sales, Andy Thatcher broke down what organizations need to do to attract top tech talent in ‘Hiring: A Two Way Street’. Let’s now take a look at what organizations should be looking for in their candidates. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not what’s on paper.

Of course, what’s on your resume matters to a certain extent. Job qualifications are put in place for a reason. But there is something that is often overlooked when hiring: soft skills. Soft skills, sometimes known as “people skills”, also include creativity, work-ethic and communication.

Someone with soft-skills has a lot to offer. They can easily adapt to the needs of the company over someone who is a bit more set in their ways. They fit in with the company culture and are easy co-workers to be around. They also have an advantage when it comes to customer experience and service. Remember, how you treat anyone is how you treat everyone.

A good friend of mine owns his own business. He always stresses that he hires people with great customer service over talent if he has to make the choice. If someone needs additional training, he provides it and if they need even more training, he’ll provide it again. At the end of the day, what matters most is the overall experience for clients. If people feel taken care of, they’ll come back.

You can spot these individuals with strengths in both the hard and soft skill sets by conducting various types of interviews during your hiring process. Interview for the hard skills by asking the candidate to describe their knowledge in a specific skillset, but also ask them how they may have handled a difficult situation that arose during a project. Ask them to highlight something they accomplished individually, but also how they contributed within a team setting, and how they communicated with other colleagues to get a task at hand completed.  Explain your company cultures and values and ask which of these values stands out to them and why. You can easily figure out if a candidate has the soft skills that you’re looking for by asking more conversational questions like “What”, “How” and “Tell Me More”. By actively engaging candidates with these questions, you’ll be able to get a better gauge of who the candidate is and what kind of employee they can be.

If you’re having a hard time finding talent that meets your idea of a good combination of hard and soft skills, consider interviewing younger candidates. When asked “What is more important? Five+ years of management experience or a person who is a team-player, has clear communication with others and is forward-thinking?”, the answer seems obvious. Well-rounded individuals will grow with your company and help lead it into the future.