Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: Both Are Important ?

During the job application and interview process, employers look for applicants with hard skills and soft skills. Successful candidates will make sure to put both skill sets on display. In order to do so effectively, it helps to understand the difference between these two types of skills.

Hard Skills:

  • Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that are easy to quantify. Typically, you’ll learn hard skills in the classroom, through books or other training materials, or on the job. These hard skills are often listed in your cover letter and on your resume and are easy for an employer or recruiter to recognize.
  • Hard skills are concrete professional abilities you can either perform or you can’t.
  • Once you acquire a hard skill, it usually stays with you throughout your entire career.

Hard skill include:

  • Proficiency in a foreign language
  • A degree or certificate
  • Typing speed
  • Machine operation
  • Computer programming

Soft Skills:

  • Soft skills are usually related to your personality and your people skills.
  • They are more subjective and emotion-based than hard skills.
  • You can’t quite quantify your soft skills either, such as how good you are at communicating, even if you took a communications class in school and interact with customers daily.
  • Soft skills relate to the way you relate to and interact with other people.

Soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Patience
  • Persuasion
  • Problem solving abilities
  • Teamwork

How to include hard and soft skills on a resume:

When updating or creating your resume, you might consider including a “Skills” section that highlights your abilities most relevant to the position. This is especially important for positions with specific technical skills requirements. For clues on what to include and prioritize in your skills section, carefully review the job posting you’re applying for. Hard and soft skills the employers wants to see might be found in the “requirements,” “education” or “desired skills” sections of the post.

How to highlight your skills throughout the interview process:

Once you make it to the interview phase, you will have an opportunity to display your soft skills and elaborate more on your hard skills. You may be asked to display your hard skills with a test or portfolio.

You can highlight key soft skills by:

  • Showing up on time or early to the interview (punctuality or dependability)
  • Maintaining eye contact (active listening)
  • Speaking clearly when prompted (effective communication)
  • Answering questions about your resume and experience honestly (integrity)
  • Asking follow-up questions (active listening)

You can highlight your hard skills by:

  • Elaborating on your experience and training
  • Providing a portfolio (digital or physical)
  • Effectively answering technical questions related to the work
  • Asking follow-up questions related to the work
  • Effectively working through skills tests (if required at the interview)

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