During interviews, recruiters constantly evaluate a potential candidate’s skills. They ensure an individual has the proper knowledge to be successful in a job.
However, there are two distinct types of skills that companies value: hard skills and soft skills.
Being aware of both one’s hard and soft skills can truly change the outcome of a job interview, potentially resulting in you getting a job you would otherwise not be considered for.
It’s key to combine both of these skill sets to make you the most complete candidate.
The following article teaches you the difference between these skill sets and how you can apply them to maximize your odds of being hired.
What are Hard Skills? Definition & Theory
Hard skills are technical abilities with technical and specific knowledge that you gained through life experience and education or practice.
Like all skills, they improve an employee’s performance and make them more competitive in a job market.
Thus, those who acquire hard skills find their work more satisfying and have high job retention rates.
Of the two skill types, hard skills are much easier to teach and are far more tangible.
This means that learning a hard skill could be far easier for the average individual, as it involves little changes in one’s personality.
List with 24 Examples of Hard Skills
There is a vast amount of different hard skills which can truly be beneficial to almost any employee.
- Technical skills
- Certificates, degrees, or formal education
- Writing skills
- Analytical skills
- Marketing skills
- Project management skills
- Leadership skills
- Content writing
- Accounting or math-related skills
- Presentation skills
- Customer service skills
- Design skills
- Technical knowledge
- Time management abilities
- Knowing a trade, like carpeting or plumbing
- Network security
- Basic computer skills like HTML coding
- Operating content management systems
- Job-specific skills, such as in healthcare or pharmaceuticals
- Data mining or data input
- Speaking a foreign language
- Banking, tax, and finance knowledge
4 Examples of Hard Skills in a Workplace
Hard skills can be utilized in a variety of ways. The way one uses their skills depends heavily on the industry they enter and the career path they wish to follow.
Below is a list of examples where hard skills are used in the workplace:
Data analysis skills are often used in computer science or statistical analysis. It allows one to use data to make more informed decisions.
Technical skills encompass a vast array of abilities. For example, CAD, prototyping, troubleshooting, linear regression, or systems administration are all forms of technical skill.
Design skill examples include UX design, UI design, and graphic design.
For marketers, career-specific skills are SEO, PPC, copywriting, email advertising, or social media marketing.
For managers, administrative skills are immensely important. Business knowledge, finance, accounting, and team management make up this crucial skill set.
10 Examples of Hard Skills for Students
While soft skills are useful in most job settings, hard skills should not be overlooked. They are the key to your technical success.
You will find a list of skills that can contribute to your current and long-term success below.
- Considerable experience within a field– no doubt, if you can volunteer or become an intern in a field before searching for a full time job, employers will see that you are dedicated and have more knowledge than other applicants.
- Search engine optimization– if you work with a digital company/in marketing, knowing even basic SEO shows you can help the brand rank higher in Google and gain potential clients.
- Experience with CRM software, BIM software, or other digital tools – already knowing about tools a company uses gives you a competitive advantage, for the business does not have to spend as much time teaching you.
- Cash flow management– this skill shows you know how to manage and organize business information.
- General professional skills– if you go into a specific field, know the specific skills needed by looking at the job description, job duties, and overall company description.
- Sales– businesses love when you can make them money. As a student, selling yourself can be difficult. However, if you master sales techniques you will not only be able to sell yourself to an interviewer, but also sell the company’s products.
- Knowing another language– translation can be handy in many fields. If you are bilingual, you can serve as an in house translator for the specific language and benefit the whole team.
- Writing skills– writing a thorough resume and personal statement can potentially land you a job if your resume skills are at an advanced proficiency level.
- Public speaking– you can be a great representative for a team if this skill is strong, making you an appealing leader throughout your career.
- Scheduling– this is another hard skill that shows you can manage and organize aspects of a team.
Why are Hard Skills Important to Train For?
Training to develop hard skills has a multitude of benefits.
For starters, consider the value of an education. Employers understand that with a college degree comes knowledge, some degrees of experience, and dedication.
This is why education is often a required aspect of getting a job. Additionally, there are many job specific hard skills that can benefit your career.
Knowing digital marketing can help you boost a business’s revenue, ROI, brand reputation, and potential profits.
This makes you a valuable employee, which is the true point of learning such skills.
There is only so much time you have to spend on learning skills before you start your career.
The sooner you get certificates, a thorough education, and job experience, the better.
When interning at a company, you will develop many new skills.
These will depend upon the specific brand you intern for but expect these hard skills to be valuable for years to come.
No one can unteach these skills to you, but make sure you put in the effort to stay up to date on your technical skills.
Doing so is especially important, as technology is constantly evolving.
Focus on Your Most Relevant Hard Skills
To impress potential employers and find long-term success in your career of choice, identify your own skills.
These should be relevant to the particular field you work in.
This way, you are not forced to learn every skill in existence. Rather, you can focus on those which will bring the most benefit to your work.
There is no one definition of an important skill. However, you can easily find the skills an employer demands by looking at a job description.
Then, you can easily target these particular skills to develop them further and become a top candidate for the job.
Additionally, finding adjacent skills to work on can make you stand out from the rest of the job prospects. Every industry has a general skills list that applies across employers.
Consider the ideal candidate for your employer: what qualities do they have? Does the job description mention specific job duties?
If so, think of skills that can make performing these tasks easier and try to acquire them. This way, you stay focused on only the most relevant skills for your job.
The Importance of Hard Skills in the Workplace
Understanding one’s skills are immensely beneficial not just to one individual, but to the entire team.
Recognizing skills can help managers delegate more efficient tasks which are tailored to each employee. If this occurs, employee productivity and satisfaction are increased.
Skills are also an aspect of the strength-based approach.
Through furthering one’s skills, an employee furthers their abilities while maintaining a positive attitude and maximizing their efficiency.
Some skills are required for every type of job. Without acquiring such skills, career progression would be near impossible.
But with proper experience, employees can further their careers and prove they are worthy of a raise, as they are more valuable to a team if they have specified skills.
To have a cohesive team, leadership skills are necessary for managers.
Employees must perform their tasks at the highest possible quality, and leaders focusing on their employees’ skills allows that potential to be unlocked.
This encourages productive behaviors across teams and in turn, leads to better results for a business’s clients.
Difference between Hard Skills & Soft Skills
Soft skills are personality traits that candidates have which allow them to succeed in the workforce.
Like with hard skills, there is a vast amount of soft skills which differ from person to person and industry to industry.
Notice that these are traits, not technical skills or experience. Because of this, it is often stated that soft skills are more difficult to teach.
They require a person to truly changing their personality rather than simply observing information to acquire the skill.
Having both soft and hard skills is key to career success, as they both allow a candidate to develop strengths and become more connected with their work.Hard skills are more tangible and easier to teach, hard skills are far more tangible, and it is easier to access whether someone has a hard skill.
They include job training, education, life experience, certificates, and skills gained through prior employment.
On the other hand, soft skills are far less measurable and more difficult to teach.
They are character traits and job habits which contribute to an employee’s long-term success in an industry, including how they work and communicate with others and how one leads.
In a LinkedIn study, 69% of HR directors and potential employers also agree that behavioral skills are hard to access, but that a resume composed of experience and hard skills is not enough.
These valued skills include traits like open-mindedness, people skills, effective communication, critical thinking, empathy, love of learning, teamwork, integrity, among other behavioral skills.
How to Use Hard and Soft Skills to be a More Effective Teammate
Now that you know how to display your skills on a resume, you may be wondering how to do the same in a real work environment.
These are two completely different tasks, but you can achieve both in a variety of ways.
One soft skill you can start incorporating into your daily work is strategic thinking.
Create strategies that help you succeed and think clearly.
This skill can guide you when making important decisions, delegating tasks, and leading for the long term.
If you plan to work with computers and become and/or become an engineer, data science is a great skill to use.
Collecting data on your team can give you immense insights into productivity, work/life balance, and will ultimately help you make any necessary changes in employment and delegation.
Two soft skills that go hand in hand are collaboration and communication.
No matter what your position is, speaking clearly and honestly to your colleagues is key.
If you are a manager, ensure you describe tasks clearly so no one is confused. If you are in need of assistance, communicate this to others instead of hiding your struggles.
And if someone needs assistance from you, collaborate to move the team forward.
Another hard skill that could be beneficial toward becoming a better team member is UX design.
Using this skill, you can get a clearer understanding of your customer base.
With this, you can give your team more information on how to improve a user’s experience.
Also, once you begin to understand the customer, apply those same strategies you use to understand and collaborate with your team.
Presenting data clearly and communicating are just two strategies that can contribute to your relationship with your colleagues.
What are Hybrid Skills?
If a candidate has hybrid skills, they possess both hard and soft skills. Each employer will have a different definition of what an ideal hybrid candidate looks like.
In the technical sphere, software development agencies may require lots of education within a particular field, like computer science, as well as coding knowledge.
But, they may value a hybrid candidate who has critical thinking skills over someone who is purely technical.
If you are looking to determine how much of each skill an employer believes is ideal, take a look at the description of duties the employer provides on the job description.
See which skills are required to perform these duties well. Additionally, visit the employer’s website to see if they mention any soft skills they value and what their company culture demands.
Having hybrid skills does not mean that 50% of your skills are hard and the other 50% are soft.
You can still have these strengths in varying proportions, so long as both hard and soft skills contribute to your success at work.
Overall Conclusion For Hard Skill
Obtaining both hard and soft skills is a crucial aspect of developing as an employee and becoming a competitive job candidate.
Every industry requires some level of these two skills, and it is up to job seekers to determine how to build their knowledge in those fields.
If individuals fail to harness the power of either skill, they risk not being hired or progressing in their careers.
Having hard and soft skills also contributes to your long-term happiness and job satisfaction, making them even more of a powerful tool for self-development.
Hard Skill FAQs
What is a good hard skill?
All hard skills can be beneficial. However, to find which hard skills are truly beneficial to you, you just focus on your specific industry. Carpentry is a hard skill that is absolutely crucial to carpenters, but almost useless to doctors.
An MD is crucial to doctors, but useless to carpenters. So, you must research the education requirements for your industry and acquire them. Then, see which hard skills are listed under jobs in your industry and focus on acquiring them.
What are your top 5 skills?
Hard skills are industry-specific (more so than soft skills). However, some hard skills are becoming more and more needed in virtually all industries. The ability to type and use computers is crucial in the modern era, for instance.
Budgeting and accounting are also necessary for most professions. Knowing how to speak a foreign language will benefit you regardless of your industry. Knowing how to write and market is also key in most industries.