What Are Hard and Soft Skills? (Differences and Examples)

All jobs need a mix of hard skills and soft skills. A hard skill refers to what you do in your occupation, while a soft skill dictates how you handle your job duties. Candidates with this skill set are very competitive in a continually evolving, technologically-focused economy.

Before you can write a job description or design a learning program, it's crucial to understand the difference between hard skills and soft skills thoroughly. In this guide, we'll break down everything you need to know about hard skills and soft skills, including how to highlight your skills, and examples of each type of skill.

What Are Hard Skills?

Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that are easily measurable. We define hard skills as the technical abilities that fit the job. Normally, you can acquire hard skills in the classroom, in an online course, through books and other materials, or on the job.

These are concrete, measurable abilities that are often specific to a job. You can demonstrate your proficiency in hard skills through relevant certifications, portfolios, or skill assessment tests. Different professions will require different criteria for expertise.

Examples of Hard Skills

These skills can be measured in a clear cut manner. When reading a job description, these are the skills that are easy to know if you possess or not. Some examples of these hard skills include:

● Proficiency in a foreign language
● Affiliate marketing
● Inventory control
● Business analysis
● Cloud computing
● Blockchain
● Proficiency in specific computer programming
● Cash flow management
● Machine operation
● Computer programming
● User interface (UI) design
● Data analysis
● Social media management
● Adobe Photoshop
● SEO marketing
● Website development
● Copyediting
● Google analytics
● Sales funnel management
● Presentation skills

Why Are Hard Skills Important To Train For?

Hard skills are an important part of any job. They refer to the knowledge and abilities essential for the profession, such as having a driver's license and understanding road rules for a truck driver. Without those hard skills, employees won't be able to perform their work duties effectively.

As these skills are essential for work, it's worth brushing up on your knowledge and abilities from time to time. Even if you're an expert in your field, new developments might bring methods and solutions that can make your job easier, especially if your finance job needs computer skills or technical abilities.

What Are Soft Skills?

Importance of soft skills

Soft skills are the combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and personality traits that make it easy to get along and work harmoniously with other people.

Usually, they are more closely linked to people's personality traits they are born with and social skills. But they also can be trained and developed through practice and professional development.

Examples of Soft Skills

Because soft skills are more general in nature, they are applicable to nearly every job on the market, but you should take the time to explain them on your resume or in an interview. You should be prepared to share examples of how you've demonstrated some of these soft skills in your previous work experiences. Some of these soft skills include:

● Interpersonal skills
● Creativity
● Persuasion
● Emotional intelligence
● Communication
● Teamwork
● Problem-solving
● Time management
● Critical thinking
● Decision-making
● Stress management
● Adaptability
● Conflict resolution
● Leadership
● Creativity
● Resourcefulness
● Openness to criticism
● Empathy
● Observation
● Attention to detail

You can read more about the specifics of improving interpersonal skills in this blog post if you want to learn more.

Why Are Soft Skills Important in the Workplace?

Most interactions with other people require some level of soft skills. At a company you might be negotiating to win a new contract, presenting your new idea to colleagues, networking for a new job, and so on. We use soft skills everyday at work and developing these soft skills will help you win more business and accelerate your career progression.

On the other hand, a lack of soft skills can limit your potential, or even be the downfall of your business. By developing strong leadership, delegation, teamwork, and communication abilities, you can run projects more smoothly, deliver results that please everyone, and even positively influence your personal life by improving how you interact with others.

What Is the Difference Between Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills?

To put it simply, the main differences between hard skills and soft skills are how you obtain them and how you apply them in the workplace. Hard skills refer to the essential knowledge that you need for your profession. Meanwhile, soft skills are personal qualities that influence your approach to problems, creativity, and ability to work with others. They're sometimes called interpersonal skills and can make you stand out at work. While you can learn hard skills at school, during courses, or with training, you can develop soft skills through analysis of your own behavior and with the help of professional coaches.

How to Highlight Your Skills

Highlight your skills

To make sure potential employers are aware of your skills, highlight them on your resume and cover letter. Weave in mentions of your skills during job interviews.

Incorporate Skills Into Your Resume: On your resume, include a skills section that lists out relevant skills. You can also point to your skills in the job description. For instance, if you're applying for a job where you need legal knowledge and the ability to communicate with clients successfully, you can include similar experience in job descriptions.

Include Relevant Skills in Your Cover Letter: Your cover letter is also an opportunity to highlight both sets of skills. When it comes to soft skills, however, rather than saying you have a soft skill, demonstrate that you have it. For instance, rather than saying "I have leadership skills," say, "At my role at Company ABC, I steered the sales team to record numbers, creating a bonus structure that generated strong results."

Share Your Skills During Job Interviews: During interviews, the STAR interview response technique can help you show off soft skills. STAR, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result, is a way to answer behavioral interview questions ("Describe a time when...") that involves recounting a work-related challenge, what role you played, what you did to affect the outcome, and what the result of the action you took was on the situation.

A Final Word

Work to develop the skills in this list is likely to pay off in a job search, in any job or career on which you embark, and in life more generally. In addition, soft and hard skills are equally important to employers. Even if you work in a highly technical field, you must be able to communicate with your manager and clients to succeed in your role.