One person is a graduate with great soft skills but average grades, while another has excellent grades but whose soft skills are so-so.
In such cases, Malaysian bosses are clear about who they would hire.
Studies have shown that in complex jobs, the difference between an average performer and a top performer is emotional and social skills, said Korn Ferry Malaysia country managing director Anthony Raja Devadoss.
“Soft skills, people skills, emotional and social skills – these are the names for that elusive set of qualities that allow people to interact effectively with others.
“IQ (intelligence quotient) is as important as EQ (emotional quotient), so we cannot replace one with the other. Fresh graduates who might not have done well in their scores still have a good future if they have sound EQ such as communication skills, self awareness, interpersonal skills and a team player mentality.
“Nine in 10 business leaders and human resource directors in a survey had said employers with strong people skills make a bigger commercial impact. And 88% of them said employees with these skills are worth their weight in gold,” he added.
Anthony said employers have the tools to determine the right candidate for their organisation.
LGMS Bhd executive chairman Fong Choong Fook said job applicants with a great set of soft skills could show they can practically and ethically apply their knowledge to solve an issue.
In the cybersecurity sector, he said, key soft skills would include analytical thinking to decipher complex cyberthreats, communications to convey technical insights to non-technical stakeholders and ethical discernment, given the sensitive nature of information received.
“Possessing high ethics is most important because the stewardship of digital security goes beyond safeguarding data as it inherently involves the protection of individual privacy, corporate interests and even national security,” he said when contacted.
Fong, a cybersecurity expert, said his company had rejected applicants even though they possessed superior grades and technical expertise because adherence to ethical guidelines is fundamental.
Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX) chairman Chiew Kok Hin said the ability to think outside the box and technical communications were among the skills being sought.
He said it was paramount to hire those with great soft skills, aside from having good technical knowledge, so that they are able to work well with their team and also work independently.
Commerce.Asia Group of Companies executive chairman Ganesh Kumar Bangah said the hiring of candidates was influenced by technology, especially the emergence of generative Artificial Intelligence and other innovative solutions.
“I prioritise candidates with soft skills such as adaptability, being a team player and creative in problem solving even if they have average grades, as opposed to those with impressive academic records but with only average soft skills.
“In essence, while academic qualifications may serve as an indicator of technical knowledge and theoretical understanding, it is the amalgamation of pivotal soft skills that propels practical, real-world success within the dynamic landscapes of ecommerce, digital growth marketing and the overall digital economy in Malaysia,” he added.