Hard Skills vs Soft Skills: Understanding the Differences



When preparing your resume, it’s important to distinguish between hard skills vs soft skills, as both are crucial for your job application. Hard skills refer to specific technical knowledge or training you have, while soft skills are more about your interpersonal abilities. Employers often seek a balance of these skills in candidates. Therefore, understanding and highlighting both types of skills on your resume can significantly enhance your profile to potential employers.

In this article, we will cover:

What are hard skills
What are soft skills
The difference between hard vs soft skills
Hard skills vs soft skills examples
Adapting skills to overcome automation

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are the specific, teachable abilities or skill sets that can be measured and defined. They often involve technical knowledge or training and include things like proficiency in a foreign language, coding abilities, machine operation, or accounting expertise. These skills are typically gained through education, certifications, training courses, or previous work experience. In the context of a job application, hard skills demonstrate your specific qualifications and the concrete expertise you bring to the role, making them an essential part of your professional toolkit.

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.

You might ask, what are five benefits of having such skills on your resume? Ask no more! Here are the top main reasons why having them is important.

  • Increased employability: Possessing them makes you more marketable and increases your chances of finding employment in your desired field.
  • Career advancement opportunities: Strong hard skills can open doors to career advancement and promotion within your current organization or in new job opportunities.
  • Enhanced job performance: Allows you to perform tasks efficiently and effectively, leading to higher productivity and job performance.
  • Ability to adapt to technological advancements: In today’s fast-paced world, technology is constantly evolving. Having relevant hard skills on your resume shows you can adapt and stay up-to-date with technological advancements in your industry.
  • Specialized expertise: You will represent specific knowledge and expertise in a particular domain. Possessing such skills allows you to become an expert in your field, providing unique value and opportunities for professional growth.

We hope you find our article helpful. At REEDACT, we specialize in resume building and are here to assist you on your journey.

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Remember, while these skills are valuable, it’s also important to develop a well-rounded skill set that includes a combination of hard and soft skills for career success.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the non-technical, interpersonal abilities that relate to how you work and interact with others. These include skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and adaptability.

soft skills and hard skills for your resume

Unlike hard skills, which are about your technical ability to perform specific tasks, soft skills are more about your personal qualities and how you approach work and challenges. They are crucial in any workplace, as they determine how effectively you can work in a team, manage projects, and handle workplace challenges. People often develop soft skills over time through experiences and interactions in various personal and professional settings.

A recent study performed by fastcompany.com highlighted that in the AI age, soft skills are increasingly valued by employers. This study, involving business leaders from various countries, suggests that as AI integrates more into workplaces, qualities like integrity, strategic vision, and motivation become crucial. 78% of frequent AI users identified integrity as the most important skill, predicting its growing importance

And the good part? Any job requires them! People commonly refer to these abilities as people competencies or transferable skills, as individuals can carry them from one job to another. Furthermore, people use these skills in everyday situations, and they are not confined to a specific job.

Therefore, these abilities encompass a combination of personality traits and the behaviors individuals manifest.

The difference between hard vs soft skills

Hard skills help you get a job, soft experience helps you keep it. 👍

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, even though you possess the technical skills to perform a task, you essentially need soft abilities that can enhance the workplace culture and increase your chances of getting promoted.

Hard skills are frequently developed at the expense of soft skills

When developing professional abilities, it’s important to balance hard skills vs soft skills. Especially in corporate settings, people often prioritize hard skills, such as technical knowledge or specific training. However, building soft skills is equally crucial. These are the people-oriented skills like communication and teamwork, often enhanced by engaging in extracurricular activities like sports, music, or painting. While many individuals tend to focus more on hard skills, understanding the value of soft skills and dedicating time to develop them can lead to a more well-rounded and effective skill set.

When starting their careers, many people concentrate on acquiring certifications and developing hard skills to prove their competency in job-specific tasks. This focus on technical abilities often leads to the neglect of transferable, essential soft skills. Thus, once they enter the workforce, they might feel stuck. Even though they are experts in their field, they do not exhibit the soft proficiency required for promotion.

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!

Hard skills vs soft skills examples

Let’s take an example! 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 techniques, you can save a lot of time on coding, teamwork, and client interaction.

soft skills amplify hard skills

Leadership, negotiation, and sales skills, for example, make a huge difference in getting the job done. People need soft skills to nicely amplify the hard ones, in order to solve a specific problem. It will help them do it better and faster, too! 😊

Adapting skills to overcome automation

Many mid-size and large companies often hire employees in entry-level positions to perform specific tasks. However, this approach becomes risky when employees focus too narrowly on their technical abilities. For instance, roles that focus solely on operating cash registers are increasingly facing automation, as machines now allow customers to scan their products themselves. This trend demonstrates the dynamic between hard skills and soft skills, where technology can replace narrowly defined hard skills. It underscores the importance of developing broader, adaptable soft skills such as problem-solving and communication.

On the other hand, if you have a broader, more complex hard skill, it’s harder to replace it with a machine. Take, for example, a job that involves demolishing a wall, examining the plumbing behind it, and diagnosing problems. Such tasks, which require a blend of technical knowledge and situational analysis, are beyond the current capabilities of robots. This highlights the value of acquiring diverse and intricate hard skills that are challenging to automate

Meanwhile, you can develop soft know-how and transfer it everywhere, and you can continue to build it throughout your lifetime. Those skills won’t be phased out, because human interaction is key.

At Reedact, we specialize in building resumes that grab the employers’ attention and increase your chances of landing an interview.

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