In Absence of a Perfect Candidate, 75% of Americans Would Most Likely Choose Soft Skills Over Experience and Qualifications When Making a Hire, Yoh Survey Reveals

Magnifing glass and documents with analytics data lying on tableOnly about 13 Percent of Americans would most likely pick experience and qualifications over enthusiasm, dependability, excellent personal, communications, and time management skills.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – According to a new survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Yoh, a leading international talent and outsourcing company and part of Day & Zimmermann, having soft skills (personal, communications and time-management skills, enthusiasm, dependability/reliability) without the required experience seems to be more desirable than having the right experience or qualifications for a job but lacking soft skills.

Results found that if hiring for a job and the perfect candidate didn’t exist, 75% of Americans would most likely hire a job candidate who has soft skills and not the right experience or qualifications. If no perfect candidate existed, rather than choose someone with direct experience or qualifications and poor personal skills, Americans would most likely choose someone who is enthusiastic and willing to learn (36%), someone who has excellent personal, communication and time management skills (27%) or is very dependable/reliable (11%).

Only 13% of Americans say they would most likely choose someone who has the right experience and qualifications but is lacking personal skills. Just over 12% say they most likely wouldn’t hire anyone and would leave the position unfilled indefinitely.

“These results say two very important things about today’s ultra-competitive job market,” said Emmett McGrath, President of Yoh. “One is that having the right experience and technical skills for a job is not enough – job candidates also need to fit in culturally and have non-technical skills in order to succeed.

“And two, hiring managers who recognize the value of soft skills and are more open in the candidates they consider will almost always be more successful in finding quality candidates than those that prioritize only hard skills. The talent landscape has gotten increasingly complex – and organizations who take a creative, strategic approach to their hiring will rise to the top.”


Additional findings include:

  • Women more open to soft skills than men – Women are more likely than men to say, in absence of a perfect candidate, they would most likely choose someone who isn’t experienced/qualified but has soft skills (77% vs. 72%)
  • Younger adults choose hard skills over soft skills – Younger adults (ages 18-34) seem less focused on the value of personal skills, and are more than twice as likely as their older counterparts to say they would most likely hire someone who has the right experience but is lacking personal skills (e.g., poor communication, bad time-management, not reliable/dependable, not enthusiastic) (22% for 18-34-year-olds vs. 9% ages 35+)
  • College grads and higher-earning households more likely to opt for soft skills – Results found college graduates are more likely than those with a high school degree or less to say they would most likely choose someone who isn’t experienced/qualified but has soft skills (78% vs. 71%). Those with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more are more likely than those with annual household incomes of less than $50,000 to say they’d choose a candidate with soft skills and not the right experience (78% vs. 71%)



This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Yoh from January 19-21, 2019 among 2,015 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Joe McIntyre at



For more than 75 years, Yoh has provided the talent needed for the jobs and projects critical to our clients’ success. Our Specialty Practices recruiting experts find high-impact professionals in Aerospace and Defense, Engineering, Health Care, Life Sciences, Information Technology, Interactive Entertainment and Telecommunications. For clients with workforce management needs, our Enterprise Solutions team delivers large-scale workforce solutions, including Managed Services, Recruitment Process Outsourcing, Vendor Management Systems, Independent Contractor Compliance, and Payroll Services. For more information, visit



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