So-called soft skills are critical.

Labor availability was the No. 1 concern for CEOs who took the 2018 survey of economic conditions by Columbus CEO and Capital University. Three past CEO of the Year honorees share the top three non-technical skills they look for in new hires.

“The most important trait that GBQ seeks in a new associate is a strong desire to learn. Public accounting is a business where every day brings a new learning opportunity. Regulations and laws change frequently, so it’s important to be able to learn on the fly and apply that knowledge to solve problems. We also seek strong social and communication skills, as every team member has to interact with clients and colleagues constantly. Lastly, it’s important that new hires are adaptable. The profession is changing very quickly, so today’s job description is very unlikely to stay the same for long.” —Darci Congrove, managing director, GBQ Partners

“Maintaining a positive attitude. Operating with integrity. Taking initiative to achieve and exceed goals. I like to say that, ‘I don’t hire anyone I can’t have a meal with.’ I value and strive for diversity within the team, and with that comes a variety of interests and goals. But the common denominator needs to include those three factors to be the most successful within the Uniglobe Travel Designers family.” —Elizabeth Blount McCormick, President and owner, Uniglobe Travel Designers

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“Curiosity: Effective public relations means knowing what makes people tick. We look for inquisitive people who can use research and data to understand how audiences form opinions and what motivates them. Original thinking: Clients expect us to help solve their challenges with new ideas, perspectives and creativity. We highly value the ability to see counterintuitive patterns and use them to inform communication strategies. Empathy: Our heroes are those who love helping a coworker, client or community member succeed. The ability to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes is vital to our firm’s success and to our community.” —Sandy Harbrecht Ratchford, president and CEO, Paul Werth Associates

The 2019 CEOs of the Year will be announced in the December edition of Columbus CEO.

Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO.