Technical skills carry more weight than soft skills when hiring IT staff: Survey

CIOs admit they have hired someone who was the right cultural fit but overall lacked some of the technical requirements for the role. Read more here.

  • Most important considerations when hiring are experience (67%) and technical skills (60%).
  • 80% of Singaporean CIOs have been successful in hiring an employee who lacked some technical requirements but was a good cultural fit. 
  • The main reasons for this success are: Investment in internal training (34%) and on-the-job experience (28%). 

Singapore’s IT employers actively prioritise experience and technical skills when hiring. According to a new survey of Singapore’s CIOs, independently commissioned by specialised recruitment firm Robert Half, more than two-thirds (67%) cite experience as the most important consideration for new hires, followed by six in 10 (60%) who say technical skills are the most influential factor during the decision-making process. More than one in four (29%) refer to potential, followed by cultural fit (23%), and lastly soft skills (21%).

However, the research also shows eight in 10 (80%) CIOs admit they have successfully hired someone who was the right cultural and personality fit but overall lacked some of the technical requirements for the role, highlighting the importance of having well-developed soft skills.

Further demonstrating the importance of training and professional development during onboarding new staff, internal training (34%) is cited as the main contributor to turning hires that lack the technical knowledge, but show potential, into successful recruits. This is closely followed by on-the-job experience (28%), external training (18%), extensive mentoring programs (10%) and providing sufficient leadership and guidance (10%). 

Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore said: “Expectations from IT employers are high. They are looking for employees who do not only possess all the technical requirements, but who are also abreast of the latest industry developments, have stellar soft skills as well as fit in well with the organisational culture. However, as Singapore’s technology sector is being confronted with an ongoing skills shortage, it is very common these expectations are not met which is why we generally advise hiring managers to set priorities when recruiting.”

“Personal attributes – or the so called ‘soft skills’ – of a candidate should not be overlooked when hiring. By only prioritising technical skills and experience, IT employers are not only potentially missing out on top talent who fit in well with the company and team, but are also inadvertently prolonging the crippling skills shortage faced by Singapore’s IT sector.”

“IT employers need to keep in mind that a lack of certain non-critical technical skills can easily be remedied through professional development and further training on the job.”

“The level of seniority also plays a role. As professionals rise in the organisation, soft skills may be the key to their advancement. At the senior level, IT team members are expected to be able to build influence across the organisation, communicate effectively with diverse internal and external stakeholders, and respond to the needs of the business. While honing their technical expertise, professionals aspiring to the management ranks cannot neglect also enhancing their soft skills,” concluded Imbert-Bouchard.


About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted in June 2018 by an independent research firm, surveying 75 CIOs/CTOs in Singapore. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.  


Katherine Mills
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7757
E: [email protected]