Same Skills, Different Expectations How Different Industries Apply Similar Interpersonal Skills
November 12, 2021
So you might have heard about some of the top common soft/interpersonal skills from our “What Recruiters Look For in a Candidate” blog, but have you ever wondered how these skills are applied to specific industries?
I know I have!
For example, communication to someone working in Public Relations and Advertising might mean using words to convey a specific message to a particular audience through their writing. However, communication to someone in the Hospitality industry might use clear communication skills by interacting with people through spoken words and body language. Resolving conflict in the Healthcare industry could refer to how quickly someone can think in a crisis while resolving conflict in the Human Resources industry is mediating conflict between employees.
The word “communication,” “resolving conflict,” and many other interpersonal skills are in many job descriptions. However, particular jobs and industries – and sometimes even companies – might define particular interpersonal skills in a specific way.
So how do we know what recruiters are really looking for when they ask us about our abilities to work well in teams, demonstrate leadership skills, be adaptable, etc.? How do we apply these skills in the industries we are interested in?
Look no further as the Chapman community draws from their experiences and shares with us some of the soft skills they are looking for when making hiring decisions and how those skills are applied explicitly in their industries!
Here is what some industry professionals are saying!
Voices from the STEM industry:
Cadence Stringer (she/her)
Data Analyst at Lucid Software
Chapman Alumna – ‘21 Economics and Data Analytics
“Communication and listening” are essential interpersonal skills in Cadence’s role.
“We spend a lot of time working with non-technical stakeholders and translating their request or problem into an analysis project. Listening and communication are essential in any line of work, but as analysts, we listen with the goal of uncovering the root of a request or issue. Sometimes there are better or more impactful solutions than the initial request we receive, and it’s our job to identify those solutions and work with stakeholders to get there.
We deliver analysis results to individuals with varying levels of technical background, so we have to be very comfortable explaining technical work to non-technical audiences. This kind of communication can be difficult to master because we have to provide enough detail and background to ensure that our audience understands the process and results, but also ensure that we’re using their time wisely and not adding unnecessary detail.
We apply listening and communication skills in our day-to-day work with stakeholders. We often get very ambiguous requests and work with stakeholders to uncover the “why” behind their ask to ensure that our work will drive impact. When we present analysis results to stakeholders, we tell a story, and this kind of communication takes practice.”
Dang Hua (he/him)
Talent Acquisition Manager at HireRight
HireRight recruits for various clients across the board in departments, such as product development, legal, human resources, customer service, sales, and more. They are the largest firm providing background checks globally and are used by many Fortune500 companies to screen candidates.
Dang has found some types of interpersonal skills crucial to the STEM industry: professionalism, strong communication, accountability, and passion! As an interviewer at Chapman’s recent Mock Interviews Fair, students who showed up on time and dressed up stood out to him. Dang was impressed because he believes that “how you show up to an interview is very important.” Students also communicated clearly and concisely. The students Dang kept in the back of his mind for potential opportunities, however, were the ones who showed up with enthusiasm and a great attitude. Dang said he “could feel [the passion] come through their voice,” and those are the types of candidates he would put up in front of clients.
Dang often hires product managers and developers in technology, and traditionally, technical skills are heavily looked at. So when asked, “how much weight do interpersonal skills carry when trying to fill STEM roles?” Dang said that:
Coding and scripting languages are critical. However, when he is screening candidates, he is also looking to see if someone is an individual contributor versus someone who works well with people. Dang says that people who have stronger people skills can lead a team very effectively, and that leadership and people skills are crucial when looking at the long-term.
Going back to solid communication, Dang believes that it is a crucial skill across the board. “You need to have basic industry knowledge. In tech, a manager will have to know how to take info and dumb it down.” The key is clear, concise, and effective!
Dang recommends students start networking and creating their digital profiles now. For developers and those in tech, start familiarizing yourself with programs like Stack Overflow and GitHub. He says that “developers will want to see what you contribute to the community and [recruiters] 9/10 times are getting candidates from LinkedIn,” so students should share their voice with the world. He mentions students saying great things in their mock interviews and advises them to share their accomplishments and milestones on platforms like LinkedIn, just like they did in their interviews. “Start now rather than later; it’ll be a huge advantage.”
Input from Human Resources industry:
Joshua Boudreaux (he/him)
Recruiting Supervisor/Project Manager at Koff & Associates “A Gallagher Company”
“The HR Industry is broad, so I will break it down by my current role in HR – Recruitment.
Recruitment – Communication, organizational skills, ability to multitask and re-prioritize, patience, resilience, integrity, empathy, foresight, analytical abilities.
As a Recruiter, you have to be a people person; it is the HR function where you interact with many people from all walks of life. You have to be communicative and clear in directions to applicants and/or updates to hiring managers; integrity, so you are not tempted to give unfair advantages or let bias affect your recruitment; you have to be patient to repetitive questions you may encounter while recruiting; you have to organize your recruitments and prioritize based off deadlines and requests; you must also have to be ready to pivot if a hiring manager or elected requests for a change to the recruitment; you have to resilience and foresight into the landscape of jobs you are recruiting for, this is where being analytical is important as you can deduce what variables are affecting your recruitments; it also does not hurt to have knowledge of classification and compensation to understand your labor market you are competing in.
For the private sector – Recruitment – all the above plus the ability to sell your services and distinguish yourself from the competition through communication, integrity, and results.
I will touch on the skills of communication and being analytical in approach. If I was telling my college self how to be successful in this field, it is to communicate at all times, the good, the bad, the ugly, the wins, the losses (while taking ownership of those tough lessons) and to be analytical. Whether I was in hospice sales, employee representation, or recruitment, what differentiated me was my usage and analysis of data. You will have to compete with the pretty hair twirlers that have their smiles to fall back on to assist in their careers, you will have your yes men that cater to those they deem as important or decision-makers, and then you have what you call your “beautiful enemies.” Being a beautiful enemy is the riskier of the three because it could either propel you or set you back; this is for you to decide based on the culture of the workplace you work in. It has been both a blessing and a curse for me, but at the end of the day, my clients and or those to who I provided services were thankful for my insight. Being a beautiful enemy is to diplomatically propose alternatives (if you deem necessary) that the team or manager may not have taken into account. In doing so, you potentially save time, money, and stress for the team. However, in an imperfect workplace where egos may be bruised, you must do this in a respectful manner and one in which adds to the dialogue rather than detract. Providing your insight with credible evidence is a skill set that only a few possess, dare to be different?
…I worked for a large public agency in OC a few years back. I fell in love with the mission of the Agency because of the services provided to the public. Midway through my career, I was supervised by a professional that did not have the experience or foresight to command my section, which consisted of workplace investigations and intensive labor and employee relations legal matters. We were in a meeting with a manager providing guidance on how to take care of an employee-related issue, to which I knew the tenets of progressive discipline but did not agree with what my supervisor was saying. I waited until the end of the meeting and spoke to my supervisor in private, to which I recommended an alternative course of action as I have seen this similar scenario play out. This supervisor became extremely red in the face and started to passive-aggressively impact my career. Well, she won, and I left the Agency.
…Although I miss the Agency, I stayed true to myself and the tenants I valued as an employee and a public servant. I am now in a workplace where I was meant to be and have never been happier; I am now the supervisor and a beautiful enemy to public agencies to consult on HR-related topics across the state.
You all are young, but don’t waste your hours stuck in neutral. You only have one shot at this life, do something you truly enjoy while you can!”
Thoughts from the Healthcare industry…
Justin Thompson (he/him)
Recruiter at Great Plains Health
Chapman Alum – ‘18 Broadcast Journalism
“Some of the major soft skills that I think the healthcare industry values are teamwork, work ethic, flexibility, communication, attitude, and empathy.
The ability to collaborate as a team is essential to effective healthcare service. I believe most industries value candidates who are “team players,” but in healthcare, the stakes could not be higher to have employees that come together and form a cohesive team. Certainly, it’s easier said than done, especially in today’s environment, but more than ever, we value applicants who will buy into our hospital’s mission of putting patients first at all costs.
Flexibility certainly ties in to being a team player, in my view. The ability to pick up an extra shift as needed, assist on an additional procedure, or pick up the slack wherever it’s needed – and the need is great, is imperative to being an effective healthcare worker. In today’s environment, every day brings different challenges, and we value candidates who can adjust on the fly with a positive attitude and a chief aim to render world-class service to our patients.
Having worked in the television news industry for the past three years, I think that being an effective communicator is an invaluable asset to an organization. For managers, the ability to clearly communicate expectations and appreciation to your staff can make a difference in your employee’s satisfaction with their job. With the high turnover rates we are seeing in the healthcare industry, effective communication stands to benefit any organization in a number of ways. Our hospital culture places a huge emphasis on communication among co-workers and departments. As far as interacting with patients, the ability to communicate clearly in an appropriate manner should be a top priority of any successful healthcare worker.
In the healthcare industry, a positive attitude goes a long way towards being a high-performing employee. Again, I know it can be easier said than done with how mentally and physically taxing it is working in healthcare, but a smile and a calm demeanor can really help a patient in distress. When a patient needs care, they can understandably be in a fragile state, and the attitude that we as caregivers approach our patients with is very important.
The need for empathy among healthcare workers probably doesn’t require much explanation. Patients and loved ones often enter the hospital during some of the most trying and difficult times in their lives. I believe effective healthcare workers must have the ability to empathize with the challenges their patients are experiencing, treating them with sympathy and care, always.
Working in healthcare is not for everybody. I’ve been in my current position for only a month and have already seen the enormous toll that working in this industry can take on employees. That said, I believe it is also one of the most rewarding and noble industries one could choose as a career path. The opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life and truly be that special person is a privilege that working in healthcare affords its employees. It is also a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. I would encourage any student interested in pursuing healthcare to take inventory of themselves and ascertain if they have the selflessness needed to be a successful healthcare worker. We saw the phrase “healthcare heroes” gain traction for nurses and others working on the frontline during the pandemic. As a hospital recruiter, I have the utmost respect for those who choose a career of service in the healthcare industry.”
Prospective from the Marketing and Communications industry…
Diane Spencer (she/her)
Director of Talent Acquisition and Employee Relations at Cadence 3
Chapman Alumna – Business and Communications
Diane believes that the earlier you begin honing your skills in your career, the better – especially in the Marketing and Communications industry. Getting messages across is fundamental to this field and to be successful, being the best of the best comes from experience and practice. In the day-to-day, individuals are sending messages across the board to peers, leadership, and clients. There are times when those messages can be challenging too. Diane shares that she is often looking for content writers, clear and effective communicators, people who can do visual presentations and send intended messages effectively – sometimes for very niche audiences. She believes that people seeking to work in the Marketing and Communications industry should develop their emotional quotient because “being able to read people is very important.” Diane reminisces how after college, she began to work with body language and soft skills, read through the lines, and identify the real ask versus what the clients/end users were actually asking for.
The hardest pill Diane learned to swallow was that she had to start working from the ground up – from entry-level administration positions to reach her career goal eventually. She cautions students not to make assumptions on what after-college may look like. The lessons learned along the way to our career goals are crucial to the growth process, so Diane advises students to do the job they are hired for, work hard, and that’s how they’ll get promoted.
Thanks to these professionals from Chapman’s community, we have gained more industry-specific insight! If you want to learn more or explore other industries, make an appointment with our office or use your networking skills to do an informational interview!