Knowing the difference between hard and soft skills is key to your career. It’s important to showcase both in your professional LinkedIn profile and resume and during job interviews. You’ll do yourself a disservice in this highly competitive job market if you only highlight hard skills when applying for jobs.

Let’s define each skill set and then explore examples.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are teachable and measurable. They include  subjects we learn in school like math, reading and writing. We enhance these skills through practice, repetition, further training and education.

This type of skill includes specific knowledge essential for performing specific jobs like accounting and finance, sales and marketing, architecture, computer technology, data analysis, design, and project management skills.

Examples

  • Accounting and finance—Bookkeeping, QuickBooks, MYOB
  • Sales and marketing—strategic design, sales design, customer satisfaction analysis
  • Architecture—Computer Aided Design, maths skills (such as geometry and physics)
  • Tech hard skills—HTML, coding, data analytics
  • Big data engineering—JavaScript, SQL, .Net-Core

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are behavioural or interpersonal traits related to personality. They make us good people or, in the case of work, good employees. They’re natural abilities that are less tangible and therefore more difficult to teach. Sometimes they’re referred to as ‘people skills’ and they can be applied across multiple jobs and industries.

Examples

  • strategic thinker
  • teamwork
  • aptitude
  • creativity
  • emotional intelligence
  • adaptability
  • leadership
  • collaborator
  • problem solver
  • innovator
  • organised

Why should you care about hard vs soft skills?

Employers love a combo of hard and soft skills. They know that well-rounded employees have a healthy balance of both.

Emphasising your soft skills can also be powerful if you want to change career paths but don’t have all the hard skills a job may require. Shining a light on your soft skill capability is powerful because employers know it’s possible (and easier) to teach hard skills more so than people skills. You can teach someone how to operate a computer, for example, but you can’t teach them emotional intelligence as easily.

Another reason you should care is that more employers are looking for ‘cultural fit’. They want employees who work well within their business environment. These employers believe soft skills are essential for business success. While an employee may excel at a hard skill, which can increase workplace productivity, they can’t make customers loyal, satisfied and coming back for more without soft skills. For organisations to be great, they require team members with a combination or both hard and soft skills in varying levels depending on the role of the employee. Soft skills today a more valued than they have been in the past.

How to blend hard and soft skills on your resume

It’s easier to list your hard skills in a factual way. It’s more challenging with soft skills.

It’s not necessary to include two separate sections on your resume. Instead, weave your soft skills throughout. And ‘show’ don’t ‘tell’. So don’t just claim you have a soft skill and assume the reader of your resume will accept this as fact. Instead demonstrate how you have this trait.

Examples

Don’t say

‘I’m an adaptable employee.’

Do say

‘With all the changes required around COVID-19 I added value to my employer by quickly and easily adapting to new ways of working with customers. I didn’t waste time being stressed but focused on what I could do to help.’

Don’t say

‘I excel at written communications.’

Do say

‘I’m responsible for writing a wide range of internal and external professional communications products, including speeches for senior executives, customer newsletter stories, social media content and website content.’

Final tips

  1. Although certifications, licenses and memberships to professional associations aren’t hard skills per se, it’s always good to highlight these to prospective employers.
  2. Remember that soft skills complement hard skills. An architect might be able to use a computer to create technical drawings, but they won’t make customers satisfied if they can’t communicate those drawings or adapt them to their vision.
  3. If you’re struggling with your resume, register with a recruiter. Our services are free to jobseekers and our expert recruiters are seasoned in highlighting hard and soft skills in resumess. Register or contact us on 02 6199 5750 or by email face2face@f2frecruitment.com.au

Other expert articles of interest

Transferable skills: More important than ever

Looking for work? Use a recruiter

How to get a job without experience

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