Our successes

PairConnex at the Heart of a Major Research Project on Soft Skills

PairConnex développe un outil diagnostic du savoir-être professionnel

The very first matchmaking project carried out by PairConnex between 2013 and 2017 was called ComparJobs. It was a recruitment tool designed to help SMEs identify the candidates that would best fit in with their business culture. It was a simple concept: to attract, motivate and retain quality employees, you have to go beyond the skills, training and experiences listed in the applicants’ résumés. Thus, ComparJobs helped employers have candidates fill out a survey in order to evaluate them on nine factors that influence professional satisfaction. These criteria had been identified by analyzing the reasons why a employees leave jobs, gathered from information obtained during exit interviews conducted by employers. They are:

  • Salary
  • Vacation and other benefits
  • Schedules
  • Distance and commute time
  • The boss’ values
  • Affinity with colleagues
  • The kinds of daily tasks
  • The work environment
  • And lastly, professional challenges

In spite of the unique and revolutionary way in which it evaluated candidates on intangible criteria, the ComparJobs project quickly ran into a major problem: the labour shortage. In order to evaluate candidates’ potential satisfaction upon hiring, there had to be candidates first. Unfortunately, in this context, a large number of the employers that used the tool received few, if any, applications for the positions they were looking to fill.

Despite these difficult circumstances, however, the ComparJobs team quickly made an observation. Some of the positions on the platform received several applications, but employers were not satisfied with them. Probing into this a little, it turned out the problem was not the quality or compatibility of the applicants, but rather an unexpected factor: a great number of these candidates were immigrants, and employers were reluctant to hire them.

Questioning these employers as to why they did not want to hire immigrant employees brought a trend to light:

  • The fear that these employees would not fit in with the team
  • The fear that these employees would not be accepted by their clients

While thinking about this situation, the president of PairConnex had a chance meeting with the director of the Institut de recherche sur l’intégration professionnelle des immigrants (IRIPI) while attending a networking activity hosted by the Chambre de commerce de l’Est de Montréal. During this surprise meeting, they discussed the observations made for ComparJobs. More discussions and meetings followed, leading to the intention of carrying out a shared project on the topic.

The objective of this research project was to identify the soft skills that foster a worker’s integration into a team. This would in turn lead to a new matchmaking module that would be marketed by PairConnex. This new module would allow employers to assess their team’s soft skills and culture. Afterwards, employers could also evaluate candidates by comparing them to their team’s soft-skill profile.

IRIPI teamed up with PairConnex

Ultimately, the objective was also to reassure employers who expressed concern about hiring immigrant workers. The premise was that professional behaviour was not restricted exclusively to an individual’s culture of origin. It was also influenced by a host of other factors that could make each candidate, regardless of origin, compatible with a business’s culture, or not.

Following IRIPI’s efforts, the project received the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in the spring of 2018. This funding will cover some of the research and development costs needed for this study.

The first phase involved surveying 475 employees and employers in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM).   Roughly 30 comprehensive interviews were carried out with employers and workers. This first research phase helped identify seven soft skills that determine an employee’s integration within a team.

Using existing research and scientific literature on the subject, IRIPI researchers then analyzed the survey and interview findings to create a 35-question diagnostic questionnaire allowing employers to evaluate the soft skills of those on their team.

These results were then integrated in the PairConnex platform to create a tool allowing employers to:

  • email the questionnaire to their employees;
  • segment respondents by work team (departments, hierarchical level, etc.);
  • generate nine soft-skill and company-culture diagnostic reports with the possibility of comparing teams;
  • evaluate job candidates using the questionnaire and compare them to the current team.

The tool is currently in the beta testing phase in various companies. These tests will help finalize the diagnostic tool’s content and features. This process will lead to the tool’s official launch, planned for fall 2019. At the same time IRIPI will reveal the findings of its study. Companies, professionals and organizations interested in attending the launch of this new soft-skill and company-culture diagnostic tool are invited to contact PairConnex at vasb@cnvepbaark.pbz or at 514-419-3555.

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