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Soft Skills Trump Technical Skills for Support Professionals.

Survey Shows Ability to Organize, Communicate and Collaborate Effectively More Prized Than Technical Talent

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- When hiring administrative staff, it's tempting to focus on the technical skills needed for the position, but a new survey shows the less tangible "soft" skills often are valued more. Sixty-seven percent of hiring managers polled by OfficeTeam, and the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) said they would hire an applicant with strong soft skills whose technical skills were lacking. By contrast, only nine percent would hire someone who had strong technical skills but weak interpersonal skills. The overwhelming majority (93 percent) 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 (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 skills are invaluable and usually more 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 also should 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 cited analytical skills, verbal communication, negotiation and problem-solving skills above others.

With Administrative Professionals Week 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 most appreciate more meaningful and long-lasting recognition that helps them enhance their effectiveness, such as attending professional conferences or taking 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. ( is the largest social network and online community of HR executives.

CONTACT: Rick Stroud of International Association of Administrative Professionals, +1-816-891-6600, ext. 2239,

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 23, 2007
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