SMEs look for professionals with soft skills and a desire to learn

With over 72 per cent of employers having been impacted by skills shortages, the ability to attract staff from other professions or industries is increasingly important to businesses and the increased flexibility shown by SMEs can give them a significant advantage in this area.

The study, which surveyed over 300 employers from a range of disciplines across the UK, showed that professionals with strong technical skills are those most sought after by large businesses when recruiting candidates from other professions.

SMEs on the other hand considered skills such as relationship management to be more important when recruiting professionals who are changing careers.

Ed Glover, Associate Director at Robert Walters, comments:“For professionals who are looking to make a career change, SMEs may be able to offer a valuable opportunity to develop new skills.”

“While SMEs may lack some of the resources of larger businesses to provide training, they are often keen to take on professionals with experience in other areas and provide them with the opportunity to learn ‘on the job’, developing new skills by working in different areas of the business.”

“Professionals who can demonstrate strong interpersonal skills which can transfer easily across a range of industries are likely to find themselves in demand with smaller businesses who can offer these unique opportunities for development.”

The survey also showed that employers of all sizes valued candidates who are changing careers for their ability to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the business.

Among SMEs 47 per cent thought that this was an important quality compared to 49% of larger employers.

Ed Glover continues: “While changing careers may seem challenging, professionals looking to do so can highlight the fact that their experience in a different area will provide them with a different perspective on challenges facing the business.”

“While it is possible to learn new technical skills through training, developing different perspectives is difficult without having had those unique experiences.”