As you navigate through your time in the professional world you will most likely come across the terms “hard skills” and “soft skills.” You might be wondering, what’s the deal with hard skills and soft skills? The reality is, recruiters seek a candidate that possesses a fair amount of both. 

Perhaps you’ve never heard of these terms, or maybe you’re familiar but looking to better understand them. Let’s uncover what hard skills and soft skills are, describe some examples and how you can develop them, look at what employers and human resources professionals use to measure them, and ultimately, how you can emphasize the skills you already have. 

What are they?

Hard Skills

Hard skills are what you acquire while working a specific job through training or professional development. These skills usually vary by which industry you are in and are often specifically listed by employers in a job application. This particular skill set is quantifiable (easily measured) and often correlated more with assessments like the intelligence quotient (IQ). 

Examples of hard skills include:

  • Computer programming
  • Sales and Marketing 
  • UX Design
  • Project Management
  • Typing Speed 
  • Human Resource Management

Soft Skills

Soft skills on the other hand are less technical and not as easy to measure. These skills are based more on emotional intelligence (EQ) and therefore often come naturally for many people or develop through various indirect experiences. The beauty of soft skills is that they are transferable to a number of different positions and industries and directly relate to how you work.  

Examples of soft skills include:

  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Empathy
  • Decision-making
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Detail-oriented

How do you advance?

Developing hard skills is always through hands-on learning scenarios. If you’re looking to advance your hard skills, think about taking on new positions, earning a degree or certificate, working in different industries to broaden your range of skills, and even taking on volunteer or apprenticeship positions. 

To further evolve your soft skills, Glassdoor recommends you hone in on communication – both written and oral communication are equally important. You can practice writing emails to further your written communication skills. Employ techniques like active listening, thinking before you speak, becoming aware of non-verbal cues, and varying your tone to improve your verbal communication skills. 

How can you feature your skills?

Your resume is where you will highlight your skills and experience. When applying for jobs, rather than just sending out the same resume to each employer, make sure you adapt your resume to the specific position you are applying for. Always read over the job description, then create a list of your skills (both hard and soft), and be prepared to discuss them in a cover letter and more so in an interview. Another spot on your resume you can use to interject your skills is within your job history descriptions. 

How are they measured?

Employers will evaluate your skills when considering your application. Typically, hard skills can be evaluated with yes or no questions as well as understanding the duration of time you have spent doing a particular skill. Including information about job-related assignments and portfolios will help paint a better picture of your breadth of the skill. 

Soft skills are harder to measure, therefore giving qualitative examples will be beneficial (think relevant experience). Often, in job interviews, employers will ask you situational questions to better understand your personality and behavior. 

If you’re looking to grow your professional skills, Elite Staffing can help. Let’s find a job together.