Hard Skills vs Soft Skills: Definitions, Lists with Examples & Differences
Understanding key differences between hard and soft skills when comparing them can be difficult.
With such a large number of skills to master, you may be wondering which types are the most useful to your career and how a soft skill is different from a hard skill.
Both of these abilities are useful, but choosing the right skills to pursue can save you both time and frustration.
Once you find the skills you need to succeed, you will see a boost in performance which can make you an appealing candidate during a job search and a better employee in the long term.
The following article will help you differentiate technical skills from soft skills as well as assist you in selecting the best skills that match your career.
What’s the Key Difference Between Hard Skills and Soft Skills?
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 composing 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.
What are Hard Skills?
Hard skills must be learned through job training, education, accomplishments, or previous work experience.
Skills you learned both in an academic environment and on the job are hard skills.
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 of 27 Examples of Hard Skills
There is a vast amount of different hard skills which can truly be beneficial to almost any employee. They include:
- Technical skills
- Certificates, degrees, or formal education
- Writing skills
- Analytical skills
- Marketing skills like social media marketing or Google Analytics knowledge
- Project management skills
- Leadership skills
- Content writing
- Accounting or math-related skills
- Presentation skills
- Customer service skills
- Design skills
- Technical knowledge
- Statistical analysis
- Business analysis/business analytics
- Time management abilities
- Knowing a trade, like carpeting or plumbing
- Network security
- Database management
- Programming language skills like HTML coding and mobile development skills
- 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
What are Soft Skills?
There are a vast amount of abilities that encompass this type of skill.
These include interpersonal skills, communication skills, time management skills amount others.
However, all of these abilities are nontechnical. They are not something that is learned through a degree or formal education.
Rather, they are personal traits and habits an individual utilizes to succeed in the workplace.
They do not have anything to do with cognition and physical ability, as some hard skills do.
Individuals can be excellent at technical skills, such as coding, but fail to communicate or have empathy, leading to crucial problems in the workplace.
This is why soft skills are so important, and studies have repeatedly shown that long-term success is dependent on soft skills.
List of 22 Examples of Soft Skills
These skills are beneficial to nearly all industries and can benefit most employees.
The following is a list of just a few soft skill examples:
- Problem solving skills
- Leadership skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Listening skills and active listening
- Communication skills
- People skills
- Positive mindset
- Creative and strategic thinking skills
- Collaboration skills and teamwork
- Persistence and perseverance
- Strong work ethic and motivation
- Emotional intelligence
- Administrative skills
- Decision-making skills
- Attention to Detail
10 Examples of Soft Skills Students
These skills are becoming more important and students must learn to adapt to a soft-skilled centered work environment.
Below is a guide to soft skills and how they can contribute to your career success even as a student.
1.) Oral and written communication– can help you stand out as a leader and keeps you and those around you on the same page, creating a functional work environment.
2.) Customer service– simply providing customers with information is not enough in today’s world. People choose to shop at businesses simply because the customer service is high quality.
3.) Collaboration– if you are working with others, you must learn how to adapt your work style to work with them. This will help your team accomplish more goals and you will become a team player.
4.) Persistence– inevitably, you will be faced with challenges as a student. Throughout your career, you must learn to battle these challenges and not give up.
5.) Inventive– being creative and inventive can help you find new ways to solve problems and create products that beat the competition.
6.) Handling conflict– if conflicts arise, you should be ready to gain control over the situation. This will prevent you from getting sidetracked and keep you focused.
7.) Leadership– especially valuable to entrepreneurs, leadership skills help you manage teams and delegate tasks.
8.) Problem-solving skills– if problems arise, you should be able to adjust to the environment and resume your plans.
9.) Responsible– many companies and higher-level education settings have a culture of respect, integrity, and truthfulness.
10.) Punctual– no matter the type of person you are outside of work, being in time and punctual sends a clear message to employers: you care about your work.
10 Examples of Hard Skills 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.
1.) 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.
2.) 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.
3.) 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.
4.) Cash flow management– this skill shows you know how to manage and organize business information.
5.) 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.
6.) 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.
7.) 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.
8.) 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.
9.) Public speaking– you can be a great representative for a team if this skill is strong, making you an appealing leader throughout your career.
10.) 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.
Why are Soft Skills Important to Train For?
Strong soft skills are at the heart of every successful individual.
They will unlock many opportunities for you, both inside and outside the workplace.
One of the great benefits of soft skills is that they are often not job-specific.
This is not to say that certain skills are more beneficial in specific scenarios, but as a general rule, soft skills can be applied to more than one industry.
If you decide to leave your workplace, know that your soft skills will stay with you no matter where you go.
This skill type helps create your mindset around work.
If you are motivated, hard-working, and passionate, your work will not seem like just another job.
Instead, you will become more positive and drive your team forward instead of holding them back with negativity.
Additionally, soft skills are necessary for leadership.
You must be a great communicator if you wish to sell products or own a business.
Each time you interact with customers, it is up to you to craft a narrative about your business’s mission and show them quality customer service skills.
When delegating tasks, having soft skills improves your relationship with the team and increases their productivity if you motivate them and stay empathetic.
In general, soft skills allow recruiters to see the type of person you are and how you will contribute to the company’s culture.
If they notice you have many desirable soft skills, they will immediately take note of that.
In fact, they may even value you over someone with soft skills, as teaching soft skills is far more complex than teaching hard 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.
How to Highlight Hard Skills and Soft Skills on Your Resume
If you are applying for a technical job, make sure to highlight your hard skills multiple times throughout your resume.
You can accomplish this by putting the ‘skills’ section of the resume at the very top of the document.
This will reduce the time it takes for a recruiter to find your skills and simplifies the skill-finding process.
Giving examples of how you previously used your hard skills can be more powerful than simply listing them, so make sure to do both.
When describing a prior experience, consider how your hard skills have contributed to your success and mention that in the experience section of your resume.
When it comes to hard skills, similar strategies can be used.
However, simply stating that you are empathetic, hard-working, and a great leader does not showcase your skills properly.
Instead, provide data or a specific result that demonstrates that you indeed possess those skills.
If you have ever attended events/courses for advancing your soft skills, such as a leadership summit, mention this in your resume as well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hard Skills Vs Soft Skills
Are Hard and Soft Skills Rewarded Equally?
This depends on the specific industry you are going to join, but generally, they are not rewarded equally.
Jobs that require certain hard skills, such as C++ and Python coding, have seen annual pay increases as high as 12% and pay 2x the salary as jobs requiring soft skills like collaboration and communication.
Overall Conclusion For Hard Skill Vs Soft Skills
Building quality skills takes time, but you will surely be rewarded in the long run.
You may already possess some of these skills, while others come from experience and education.
At times, you may even be reminded of skills you never noticed you used! Remember that maintains all of the listed skills is not a prerequisite for getting any job.
Instead, let the listserve as inspiration for you to acquire new skills.
Make sure to take action as soon as possible, since learning skills while still being young or a student gives you a lifelong advantage in your career.
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