Soft skills trump technical skills for support professionals

    TORONTO, April 12 /CNW/ - When hiring administrative staff, it's tempting
to focus on the technical expertise needed for the position, but a new survey
shows that less tangible "soft" skills are often valued more. Sixty-seven per
cent of human resources (HR) managers polled by OfficeTeam, and the
International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) said they
would hire an applicant with strong soft skills whose technical abilities were
lacking; only nine per cent would hire someone who had strong technical
expertise but weak interpersonal skills. The overwhelming majority
(93 per cent) of HR managers felt technical skills are easier to teach than
soft skills.
    More than 300 administrative professionals and 400 HR managers took part
in the study, which was released to coincide with Administrative Professionals
Week (APW), April 22-28. The full survey results are reported in Fitting In,
Standing Out and Building Remarkable Work Teams, a resource guide available
from OfficeTeam.
    "The results indicate the increasing complexity of the administrative
function," said Sandra P. Chandler CPS, IAAP 2006-07 international president.
"Today's professionals often negotiate with vendors, plan meetings and special
events, create presentations, and interview and supervise other employees.
While office technology skills are very important, excellent interpersonal
abilities are invaluable and usually difficult to teach."
    The managers surveyed cited the following soft skills as being most in
demand at their companies:(*)

                     Organizational skills.......... 87%
                     Verbal communication .......... 81%
                     Teamwork and collaboration..... 78%
                     Problem solving................ 60%
                     Tact and diplomacy............. 59%
                     Business writing............... 48%
                     Analytical skills.............. 45%

                    (*) Multiple responses were permitted.

    Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, pointed out that while
administrative professionals frequently focus on building technical expertise
to advance their careers, they should also look at how well they work with
others, "The ability to collaborate and build consensus on projects
distinguishes top performers."
    When asked which soft skills they would like to improve, IAAP members
surveyed ranked analytical skills, verbal communication, negotiation and
problem-solving skills above others.
    With APW around the corner, now is an opportune time for managers to work
with support staff to help them grow professionally, according to Chandler.
"Our research shows that administrative professionals appreciate more
meaningful and long-lasting recognition. To help support staff enhance their
effectiveness, managers should provide them with the opportunity to attend
professional conferences or take relevant courses," Chandler said.

    OfficeTeam is the world's leading staffing service specializing in the
temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support
professionals. The company has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers
online job search services at

    The International Association of Administrative Professionals is the
world's largest association for administrative support staff, with nearly 600
chapters and approximately 40,000 members and affiliates worldwide. For more
information, visit is the largest social network and online community of HR
executives. For more information, visit

    Note to editor: To obtain survey charts and graphs or to receive a
    complimentary copy of the Fitting In, Standing Out and Building
    Remarkable Work Teams resource guide, contact Jason Chapman at or (416) 350-2330, extension 62070.

For further information:

For further information: To schedule an interview for local commentary
in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary or Vancouver, please contact Jason Chapman at
(416) 350-2010, extension 62070

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