Hard and Soft Skills in Recruitment and Hiring: A Comprehensive Guide

Key Takeaways

  • Mastering the Skill Symphony: Learn how to orchestrate the perfect blend of hard and soft skills to create a harmonious and high-performing workforce.
  • Innovative Assessment Strategies: Explore cutting-edge tools and methodologies for skill evaluation, from AI-driven assessments to gamified evaluations, ensuring a precise talent match.
  • Future-Proofing Talent Acquisition: Stay ahead in recruitment with insights into future trends, including AI integration, continuous learning emphasis, and enhanced candidate experiences through VR. Elevate your hiring strategy for the evolving professional landscape.

In the fast-paced realm of recruitment and hiring, the quest for the perfect candidate extends beyond the confines of traditional qualifications and expertise.

Employers now recognize the indispensability of both hard and soft skills, understanding that a harmonious blend of technical prowess and interpersonal finesse is the secret sauce to organizational success.

Welcome to our comprehensive guide, where we embark on a journey through the intricacies of “Hard and Soft Skills in Recruitment and Hiring,” shedding light on the symbiotic relationship between these two pillars of professional prowess.

As the professional landscape undergoes seismic shifts, the definition of an ideal candidate evolves.

It’s no longer sufficient to possess technical know-how alone; the ability to navigate complex interpersonal dynamics is equally paramount.

This guide serves as your compass in this dynamic terrain, offering profound insights, actionable strategies, and a nuanced understanding of how the synergy between hard and soft skills can redefine the hiring landscape.

The Evolving Paradigm of Recruitment: A Prelude to Skills Mastery

In our opening act, we set the stage by delving into the evolving paradigm of recruitment.

No longer confined to the binary of qualifications and experience, recruiters now grapple with the challenge of deciphering the multifaceted dimensions of a candidate’s skill set.

The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a global workforce that demands adaptability, creativity, and emotional intelligence alongside technical proficiency.

Deciphering the Dichotomy: Hard Skills Illuminated

Our journey commences with a deep dive into the realm of hard skills.

Defining the tangible and measurable attributes that candidates bring to the table, we explore the diverse spectrum of technical expertise that varies across industries.

From coding languages to project management methodologies, we demystify the essence of hard skills, showcasing their indispensable role in driving organizational objectives.

Soft Skills: The Unseen Force Shaping Organizational Harmony

Transitioning seamlessly, we then venture into the ethereal domain of soft skills.

Far from being secondary, these intangible qualities wield a transformative influence on team dynamics, workplace culture, and overall productivity.

Through compelling examples and real-world scenarios, we unravel the significance of emotional intelligence, communication, and adaptability, emphasizing their role as catalysts for professional success.

The Interplay: Achieving the Perfect Balance

At the heart of our narrative lies the interplay between hard and soft skills.

We navigate the delicate equilibrium required to foster a workforce that seamlessly integrates technical brilliance with collaborative prowess.

Real-world examples illuminate the journeys of professionals who have successfully navigated this delicate balance, underscoring the symbiotic relationship that propels organizations toward unparalleled excellence.

As we embark on this comprehensive guide, envision a roadmap that not only educates but empowers.

Join us in unraveling the layers of skill-based recruitment, where traditional paradigms dissolve, making way for a holistic approach that anticipates the needs of the future workforce.

This is more than a guide; it’s a manifesto for a new era of hiring, where skills aren’t just checkboxes but the building blocks of enduring success. Let the exploration begin.

Before we venture further into this article, we like to share who we are and what we do.

About 9cv9

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With over six years of startup and business experience, and being highly involved in connecting with thousands of companies and startups, the 9cv9 team has listed some important learning points in this overview of Hard and Soft Skills in Recruitment and Hiring.

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Hard and Soft Skills in Recruitment and Hiring: A Comprehensive Guide

  1. Understanding Hard Skills
  2. Exploring Soft Skills
  3. The Interplay Between Hard and Soft Skills
  4. Incorporating Skills into the Hiring Process
  5. Challenges and Solutions in Assessing Skills
  6. Future Trends in Skill-Based Hiring

1. Understanding Hard Skills: The Tangible Foundations of Professional Proficiency

In the dynamic landscape of recruitment, hard skills stand as the bedrock of a candidate’s technical expertise.

Let’s delve into the intricacies of understanding hard skills, exploring their definition, relevance across industries, and the tools to assess these quantifiable abilities.

Defining Hard Skills

  • Definition: Hard skills encompass the specific, teachable abilities that can be measured and quantified. These skills are often acquired through education, training programs, or practical experiences.
  • Examples:
    • Technical Proficiency: Programming languages (Python, Java, C++), data analysis, and database management.
    • Industry-Specific Knowledge: Engineering design, financial analysis, and laboratory techniques.

Relevance Across Industries

Hard skills are not one-size-fits-all; their significance varies across diverse industries.

Understanding this context is crucial for tailoring recruitment strategies.

  • Industry-Specific Demands:
    • Technology Sector: In the tech industry, hard skills like coding languages (JavaScript, HTML) and cloud computing (AWS, Azure) are imperative for success.
    • Healthcare: Medical professionals require hard skills such as surgery techniques, medical coding, and knowledge of specific medical equipment.
  • Adapting to Industry Trends:
    • Digital Marketing: With the rise of digitalization, hard skills in SEO, SEM, and data analytics are indispensable for marketing professionals.

Assessing Hard Skills: Tools and Methodologies

The ability to evaluate hard skills effectively is a cornerstone of successful recruitment.

Employers leverage various tools and methodologies to ensure a candidate’s proficiency aligns with organizational needs.

  • Skill-Specific Tests:
    • Coding Challenges: Some platforms offer coding challenges to assess programming skills.
    • Data Analysis Assessments: Other platforms provide real-world datasets for candidates to showcase their data analysis skills.
  • Certifications and Qualifications:
    • Recognized Certifications: Certifications from reputable organizations, such as Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), validate a candidate’s hard skills.

The Impact of Hard Skills on Career Advancement

Statistics underscore the pivotal role hard skills play in career progression.

According to a report, by 2025, over half of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling in hard skills.

Understanding hard skills is not just a recruitment strategy; it’s an investment in the future.

As industries evolve, the mastery of relevant hard skills becomes a linchpin for career success and organizational growth.

Stay tuned as we navigate the parallel universe of soft skills, completing the holistic puzzle of skill-based recruitment.

2. Exploring Soft Skills: The Art of Professional Harmony

In the realm of recruitment and organizational dynamics, soft skills emerge as the intangible catalysts that foster teamwork, communication, and overall workplace harmony.

Join us as we embark on a comprehensive exploration of soft skills, unraveling their definition, impact on organizational culture, and strategies for effective evaluation.

Exploring Soft Skills: The Art of Professional Harmony
Exploring Soft Skills: The Art of Professional Harmony

Defining Soft Skills

  • Definition: Soft skills, often referred to as interpersonal or people skills, encapsulate the non-technical attributes that enable effective communication, collaboration, and interaction with others.
  • Examples:
    • Communication: Verbal and written communication, active listening, and presentation skills.
    • Adaptability: The ability to navigate change, embrace innovation, and thrive in dynamic work environments.

The Impact of Soft Skills on Workplace Dynamics

Understanding the profound impact of soft skills on organizational culture and productivity is paramount.

Research indicates that 57% of leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills.

Strategies for Evaluating and Identifying Soft Skills

Assessing soft skills can be challenging due to their subjective nature.

However, integrating effective strategies into the recruitment process is crucial for identifying candidates who align with organizational values.

  • Behavioral Interview Questions:
    • Example: “Describe a situation where you had to resolve a conflict within your team. What approach did you take, and what was the outcome?”
  • Simulations and Role-Playing:
    • Scenario-Based Assessments: Creating real-world scenarios allows candidates to demonstrate how they would navigate challenges, showcasing their problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

The Economic Value of Soft Skills

Beyond fostering a positive workplace environment, soft skills contribute significantly to the economic value of organizations.

  • Customer Satisfaction:
    • Customer-Facing Roles: Soft skills like empathy and effective communication directly impact customer satisfaction and retention rates.
  • Innovation and Adaptability:
    • Organizational Agility: Soft skills drive innovation and adaptability, critical components for organizations navigating rapidly changing markets.

Cultivating a Soft Skills Culture

Creating a workplace culture that prioritizes and nurtures soft skills is essential for long-term success. A survey by LinkedIn revealed that 92% of talent professionals and hiring managers believe soft skills are equally or more important than hard skills.

  • Training and Development Programs:
    • Ongoing Learning Initiatives: Implementing programs that enhance soft skills through workshops, seminars, and online courses.
  • Leadership Exemplification:
    • Top-Down Approach: Leaders setting an example by showcasing and valuing soft skills in their interactions inspire a culture of collaboration and empathy.

Exploring soft skills isn’t just about understanding; it’s about creating a workplace ecosystem where individuals thrive, teams excel, and organizations reach unparalleled heights.

As we navigate the intricate landscape of skill-based recruitment, the fusion of hard and soft skills emerges as the recipe for enduring success.

Stay tuned as we uncover the interplay between these two dimensions, paving the way for a holistic approach to hiring and professional growth.

3. The Interplay Between Hard and Soft Skills: Crafting the Perfect Professional Symphony

Navigating the dynamic landscape of modern workplaces requires more than just technical proficiency or interpersonal finesse—it demands a delicate balance between hard and soft skills.

Join us on an exploration of the intricate interplay between these dimensions, unraveling real-world examples, and understanding how their synergy forms the cornerstone of professional success.

The Symbiotic Relationship:

  • Holistic Competence: Hard skills provide the technical foundation, while soft skills enhance how these technical abilities are applied, fostering a holistic and effective professional.
  • Enhanced Problem-Solving: Teams with a balance of hard and soft skills exhibit superior problem-solving abilities, leading to increased innovation.

Real-World Examples of Successful Professionals:

  • Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX):
    • Hard Skills: Technical expertise in engineering and physics.
    • Soft Skills: Visionary leadership, effective communication, and adaptability.
Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX). Source: CNBC
Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX). Source: CNBC
  • Sheryl Sandberg (Ex-Facebook):
    • Hard Skills: Extensive experience in business operations and strategy.
    • Soft Skills: Strong leadership, collaboration, and empathy.
Sheryl Sandberg. Source: Forbes
Sheryl Sandberg. Source: Forbes

Building Collaborative Teams:

  • Diverse Skill Sets: A diverse team, encompassing individuals with varied hard and soft skills, fosters creativity and a well-rounded problem-solving approach.

Addressing Common Misconceptions:

Creating a Balanced Workforce:

  • Recruitment Strategies: Tailoring recruitment strategies to prioritize both hard and soft skills ensures a workforce capable of adapting to changing industry landscapes.
  • Employee Training Programs: Investing in training programs that address both hard and soft skills contributes to a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability.

In the symphony of professional success, hard and soft skills play complementary roles, each contributing to the harmonious growth of individuals and organizations alike.

As we progress through this comprehensive guide, we unravel the strategies that successful organizations employ to leverage the interplay between these skills, creating a workforce that thrives in the face of challenges and propels towards unparalleled success.

Stay tuned for insights into incorporating skills seamlessly into the hiring process, and witness the transformation of your organization’s approach to talent acquisition.

4. Incorporating Skills into the Hiring Process: A Strategic Blueprint for Talent Acquisition

Crafting a successful hiring process goes beyond scanning resumes; it involves a meticulous evaluation of both hard and soft skills.

In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into strategic methodologies, tools, and real-world examples to guide you in seamlessly incorporating skills into your hiring process.

Crafting Job Descriptions that Reflect Required Skills:

  • Keyword Optimization: Utilize relevant hard and soft skill keywords in job descriptions to attract candidates with the desired skill set. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can aid in identifying effective keywords.
  • Clarity and Specificity: Clearly outline the skills required for the position, emphasizing both hard and soft skills. Ambiguous job descriptions can lead to unqualified applicants.

Also, do have a read at our most popular guide: Mastering the Art of Writing Effective Job Descriptions: A Comprehensive Guide

Designing Interview Questions to Assess Both Hard and Soft Skills:

  • Behavioral Interview Questions:
    • Example: “Can you share a specific scenario where you used your technical expertise to overcome a significant challenge in a project?”
  • Situational Questions:
    • Example: “How would you handle a situation where team members are in disagreement, and a project deadline is approaching?”

Utilizing Technology and Tools for Efficient Skill Evaluation:

  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS):
  • Skill Assessment Platforms:
    • Platforms like Codility for coding skills or Criteria Corp for psychometric assessments provide data-driven insights into a candidate’s capabilities.

The Rise of Skill-Based Testing:

  • Tangible Evaluation: Skill-based tests, such as coding assessments or writing samples, offer tangible evidence of a candidate’s hard skills.
  • Practical Challenges: Incorporate real-world scenarios into assessments to gauge a candidate’s ability to apply their skills in practical situations.

Ensuring Diversity in Skill Assessment:

  • Holistic Evaluation: Consider a diverse range of skills to ensure a well-rounded evaluation. This includes cognitive skills, emotional intelligence, and cross-functional collaboration.
  • Mitigating Bias: Harvard Business Review reports that skill-based assessments can help mitigate unconscious biases, promoting a fair evaluation process.

Feedback Loops for Continuous Improvement:

  • Post-Hire Evaluation: Collect feedback from team members and managers after the hiring process to assess the accuracy of skill assessments.
  • Iterative Refinement: Use feedback to refine your skill assessment strategies continuously. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) emphasizes the importance of ongoing evaluation and adjustment.

Success Stories: Organizations Incorporating Skills Effectively:

  • Google: Known for its rigorous hiring process, Google places a significant emphasis on both hard and soft skills. Their interviews often include technical assessments and scenarios to evaluate problem-solving and collaboration.
  • IBM: IBM utilizes AI-powered tools to assess both hard and soft skills, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of candidates.
Google places a significant emphasis on both hard and soft skills. Source: Google
Google places a significant emphasis on both hard and soft skills. Source: Google

Incorporating skills into the hiring process is not just a task; it’s an art that requires strategic planning and continuous refinement.

As we navigate the intricate landscape of talent acquisition, stay tuned for insights into addressing challenges in skill assessment and real-world case studies of organizations that have mastered the art of seamless skill integration.

Your journey to building a high-performing, skill-diverse team begins here.

5. Challenges and Solutions in Assessing Skills: Navigating the Complex Terrain of Talent Evaluation

Skill assessment in the hiring process presents a myriad of challenges, from subjective evaluations to addressing biases.

In this comprehensive exploration, we dissect the obstacles and present strategic solutions, backed by real-world examples and data-driven insights.

Common Challenges in Skill Assessment:

  • Subjectivity in Evaluation:
    • Challenge: Assessing soft skills, such as communication or adaptability, can be highly subjective, leading to biased evaluations.
    • Solution: Implement structured interview frameworks and standardized assessment criteria to mitigate subjectivity.
  • Unconscious Bias:
    • Challenge: Unconscious biases may influence decisions, leading to an inaccurate assessment of a candidate’s skills.
    • Solution: Utilize blind recruitment techniques, such as removing personally identifiable information from resumes during the initial screening.
  • Assessment Tool Limitations:
    • Challenge: Some tools may not effectively evaluate certain skills, especially soft skills.
    • Solution: Combine multiple assessment methods, including interviews, practical exercises, and psychometric assessments, for a holistic evaluation.
Assessing soft skills, such as communication or adaptability, can be highly subjective
Assessing soft skills, such as communication or adaptability, can be highly subjective

Leveraging Technology for Skill Assessment:

  • AI-Powered Assessments:
    • Example: Some platforms uses AI to analyze facial expressions and vocal tone during video interviews to assess soft skills like emotional intelligence.
  • Gamified Assessments:
    • Example: Pymetrics utilizes neuroscience-based games to evaluate cognitive and emotional traits, providing a unique and engaging approach to skill assessment.
Some platforms uses AI to analyze facial expressions and vocal tone during video interviews. Source: Business Insider
Some platforms uses AI to analyze facial expressions and vocal tone during video interviews. Source: Business Insider

Overcoming Bias in Skill Assessment:

  • Diverse Hiring Panels:
    • Solution: Ensure diverse perspectives by having hiring panels that represent different backgrounds and experiences, reducing the impact of individual biases.
  • Structured Interview Questions:
    • Solution: Develop standardized interview questions that focus on specific skills, minimizing the influence of personal biases.

Addressing Skill Shortages and Evolving Industry Needs:

  • Skill Mismatch:
    • Challenge: The rapid evolution of industries can lead to skill gaps, where traditional assessments may not align with emerging needs.
    • Solution: Foster a culture of continuous learning and upskilling, encouraging employees to stay updated on industry trends.
  • Emerging Skill Sets:
    • Challenge: Identifying and assessing skills related to emerging technologies can be challenging.
    • Solution: Collaborate with industry experts, attend conferences, and stay informed about the latest trends to tailor assessments accordingly.

Measuring Soft Skills Effectively:

  • Communication Skills:
    • Solution: Incorporate scenario-based questions and role-playing exercises during interviews to assess a candidate’s communication skills in practical situations.
  • Adaptability:
    • Solution: Use case studies that require candidates to navigate hypothetical challenges, showcasing their ability to adapt and problem-solve.

Data-Driven Insights for Continuous Improvement:

  • Post-Hire Performance Analysis:
    • Solution: Analyze the performance of hired candidates against their assessed skills to refine and improve the assessment process continually.
  • Feedback Loops:
    • Solution: Establish feedback mechanisms with hiring managers and team members to gather insights on the effectiveness of the skill assessment process.

Success Stories: Organizations Overcoming Skill Assessment Challenges:

  • Unilever:
    • Example: Unilever utilizes an AI-driven tool to assess candidates’ cognitive and emotional traits, reducing bias and enhancing the objectivity of evaluations.
  • Goldman Sachs:
    • Example: Goldman Sachs addresses skill shortages by offering a platform for employees to access continuous learning opportunities, ensuring their workforce remains agile and adaptive.
Unilever utilizes an AI-driven tool to hire. Source: Unilever
Unilever utilizes an AI-driven tool to hire. Source: Unilever

Navigating the challenges in skill assessment demands a strategic and adaptive approach.

As we delve deeper into the intricacies of talent evaluation, stay tuned for insights into the future of skill assessment and case studies of organizations that have successfully overcome these challenges, paving the way for a more effective and equitable hiring process.

The landscape of talent acquisition is evolving rapidly, driven by technological advancements, changing workplace dynamics, and the continuous evolution of industries.

In this comprehensive exploration, we uncover the future trends in skill-based hiring, providing insights backed by data, statistics, and real-world examples.

Integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Skill Assessment:

  • AI-Driven Talent Platforms:
    • Example: Some platforms utilizes AI algorithms to analyze facial expressions, vocal tone, and language during video interviews, providing nuanced insights into candidates’ soft skills.
  • Predictive Analytics for Skill Gaps:
    • Solution: Organizations are leveraging predictive analytics tools to identify potential skill gaps within their workforce, allowing for proactive skill development initiatives.

Emphasis on Continuous Learning and Upskilling:

Rise of Skill-Verification Technologies:

  • Blockchain-Based Credentialing:
    • Example: Blockchain technology is being used to create secure, verifiable records of a candidate’s skills and qualifications, reducing the risk of fraudulent claims.

Gamification in Skill Assessment:

Personalized Skill Development Plans:

  • AI-Powered Learning Paths:
    • Example: AI-driven platforms create personalized learning paths for employees based on their current skills, career goals, and industry trends.
  • Employee-Centric Skill Development:

Incorporation of Soft Skills Metrics:

Enhanced Candidate Experience through Virtual Reality (VR):

Data-Driven Recruitment Marketing:

  • AI-Powered Candidate Matching:
    • Example: Recruitment marketing platforms use AI to analyze candidate data and match individuals with roles that align with their skills and career aspirations.

As we navigate the future of skill-based hiring, these trends signal a transformative shift in how organizations identify, evaluate, and nurture talent.

Stay tuned for insights into successful implementations of these trends and case studies showcasing organizations at the forefront of the skill-based hiring revolution.

The future of talent acquisition is dynamic, data-driven, and poised to redefine the traditional hiring landscape.


In the ever-evolving landscape of recruitment and hiring, the symbiotic interplay between hard and soft skills emerges as the compass guiding organizations toward success.

This comprehensive guide has journeyed through the intricacies of skill-based recruitment, unraveling the nuances of hard and soft skills, exploring assessment strategies, and peering into the future of talent acquisition.

As we draw this guide to a close, let’s reflect on the key takeaways and the roadmap for the future.

The Dynamic Duo: Hard and Soft Skills

  • Holistic Professionalism: Recognizing the equal importance of hard and soft skills transforms hiring from a checklist to a strategic process, cultivating a workforce that not only excels in technical prowess but also thrives in collaborative, dynamic environments.
  • Success Stories: Examples of industry leaders like Elon Musk and Sheryl Sandberg underscore that the fusion of technical expertise with strong interpersonal skills is the formula for visionary leadership and organizational success.

Strategies for Seamless Integration:

  • Crafting Effective Job Descriptions: Keyword optimization and clarity in job descriptions attract candidates with the desired skill set, ensuring a pool of applicants aligned with organizational needs.
  • Innovative Assessment Methods: From AI-powered assessments and gamified evaluations to blockchain-based credentialing, organizations are embracing innovative tools to gauge both hard and soft skills with precision.
  • Feedback Loops for Continuous Improvement: Establishing feedback mechanisms after the hiring process fosters continuous improvement, ensuring that skill assessments align with organizational goals.

Challenges and Solutions: Navigating the Complex Terrain

  • Overcoming Bias: From diverse hiring panels to structured interview questions, strategies to mitigate unconscious biases are essential for fair and accurate skill assessments.
  • Technology as an Ally: Embracing AI, VR, and data-driven insights transforms challenges into opportunities, offering a more objective and personalized approach to skill assessment.

Future Trends: Paving the Way Forward

  • AI-Driven Talent Platforms: The integration of AI in skill assessment promises more nuanced evaluations, while predictive analytics anticipates and addresses skill gaps proactively.
  • Continuous Learning and Upskilling: The emphasis on lifelong learning, supported by adaptive learning platforms, aligns individuals with evolving industry needs.
  • Virtual Reality and Enhanced Candidate Experience: VR’s immersive experiences and gamified assessments contribute to a positive candidate journey, reducing biases and improving engagement.

The Road Ahead:

In the fast-paced realm of skill-based hiring, adaptability is key. As industries evolve, technologies advance, and workplace dynamics shift, the guide to talent acquisition must remain dynamic.

The organizations that thrive are those that embrace change, continuously refine their strategies, and place skillful precision at the heart of their hiring processes.

The journey through this comprehensive guide is just the beginning.

The future of recruitment is poised to be dynamic, data-driven, and replete with opportunities for those who embrace innovation.

As you embark on your skill-based hiring endeavors, may this guide serve as your compass, guiding you toward a future where the perfect blend of hard and soft skills propels your organization to unparalleled heights.

Stay informed, stay agile, and welcome to the future of talent acquisition—a future where skills reign supreme, and success is not just achieved but skillfully crafted.

If your company needs HR, hiring, or corporate services, you can use 9cv9 hiring and recruitment services. Book a consultation slot here, or send over an email to [email protected].

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People Also Ask

What are soft skills and hard skills in recruitment?

Soft skills are interpersonal attributes like communication and teamwork. Hard skills are teachable, job-specific abilities like coding. In recruitment, soft skills assess collaboration, while hard skills determine technical proficiency. The ideal candidate boasts a balanced blend for professional success.

What are hard and soft employability skills?

Hard employability skills are job-specific, like coding. Soft skills are interpersonal, like communication. Both are crucial for career success, with hard skills demonstrating technical proficiency and soft skills fostering effective collaboration and workplace harmony.

Will you focus more on hard skills or soft skills when hiring an applicant why or why not?

The emphasis on hard or soft skills depends on the job role. Technical positions prioritize hard skills, while roles requiring teamwork or communication value soft skills. Striking a balance ensures a well-rounded candidate, aligning with the specific demands of the position.

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