Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Hard and Soft Skills: Understanding the Differences




Job skills are often described in two categories: hard skills and soft skills. During the job application and interview process, employers look for candidates with both hard and soft skills. Thus, when you’re building your one-page resume, it’s useful to be able to list and describe your skills.

In this article, we will cover:

What are hard skills
What are soft skills
The difference between hard and soft skills
You only need one hard skill to do the job

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are the skills you learn through school or on-the-job training. These are specific to a particular job. For example, a hard skill for a teacher is lesson planning, for an engineer is coding. An electrical technician needs to use specialized equipment and tools. Also, a hard skill for a cashier is using a cash register.

What are soft skills?

What are soft skills

Soft skills

Any job requires them. They are often called people skills or transferable skills because you can transfer them from one job to another. Moreover, they are used in everyday situations and they’re not specific for a particular job. Some examples include managing your time, critical thinking, reliability, communicating effectively, problem-solving, working on a team, or multi-tasking.

Soft skills are, therefore, a combination of personality traits and the behaviors that are manifested.

The difference between hard and soft skills

Here are the main differences between hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills help you get a job, soft skills help you keep it

Hard skills are the technical, domain-related, or functionality knowledge that helps you get a job. However, in order to keep that job, one needs the others.

For instance, if you can code and you’re an awesome coder but you’re difficult to work with, you won’t keep your job for very long. So, although you have the technical skills to perform a task, you essentially need soft skills that can improve the workplace culture and even your chance of getting promoted.

Hard skills are frequently developed at the expense of soft skills

Oftentimes, when it comes to building technical skills, that comes to the expense of building the soft ones. Things that would help build soft skills involve extracurricular activities like sports, music, or painting. These are more people-oriented rather than task-oriented. However, a lot of people end up allocating more time to developing hard skills rather than soft skills. Most commonly met, if they work in a corporate setting.

When people enter the workforce, they’re often asked if they have a certification to prove that they can do the job right. That’s why education nowadays is mainly focused on hard skills. So that’s how at the beginning of their career, many people focus on getting those hard skills first. Doing so, they neglect the transferable ones. Thus, once they enter the workforce, they might feel stuck. Even though they’re experts in their field, they’re not exhibiting the soft skills required for being promoted.

The higher you go, the more soft skills matter

This pattern applies to the vast majority of industries. The higher you go, the more tasks that require hard skills you’ll have to delegate. That means the more tasks that require soft skills you’ll be in charge of. At a mid and upper management level, plenty of the work is dealing with people. Coordinating strategically rather than technically and tactically is a must!

Soft skills amplify hard skills

hard skills

hard skills

For instance, although you’re an amazing coder and you’re excellent at using Python to build algorithms, you can only go so far by yourself. Most of the time, people work in teams and have to deliver what they worked on to clients. As a result, communication is essential. Actually, with good communication skills, you can save a lot of time on coding, teamwork, and client interaction and just smooth out the entire process. Therefore, things like leadership, negotiation, and sales make a huge difference when it comes to getting the job done. People need those soft skills that nicely amplify hard skills to solve a specific problem. It will help them do it better and faster, too!

You only need one hard skill to do the job

People are generally paid to do one thing on the task. This is true especially for entry-level jobs at mid-size and big companies. The problem with that is the risk of being phased out if the technical skill it’s too narrow. For example, the jobs for which the required hard skill is using the cash register are nowadays replaced by machines customers use to scan their products. This happens because that particular hard skill is too narrow and it can be easily replaced.

On the other hand, if you have a broader, more complex hard skill, it’s harder to replace it with a machine. For instance, if the job requires breaking down a wall, looking at the plumbing behind it, and detecting if there’s anything wrong with it, it wouldn’t be possible for a robot to do that. As long as they’re complex enough to be problem-solving, take some creativity, and need a human expert to be liable for the results, hard skills are not threatened by machines.

Meanwhile, soft skills can be developed and transferable everywhere and you can keep building them throughout your lifetime. Those won’t be phased out, because human interaction is key.

Knowing what hard skills and soft skills are and understanding the main differences between them will help you effectively allocate time to develop and improve them.

Plus, it will be easier to know which skills to add to your one-page resume so that you stand out among other candidates.

At Reedact, we specialize in building resumes that grab the employers’ attention and increase your chances of landing an interview. Get in touch with us and let’s work on an amazing resume!

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