December 2, 2022

Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills: Why They Are Important In Resumes And Interviews

In industries all over the world, many people still place a high value on skills, experiences, and education. They're one of the main factors that employers will consider before hiring the right talent. Or what people will look at to determine whether one is qualified for certain tasks. The reason for this, is that every job has a specific set of hard and soft skills requirements. So, to find the ideal job, you must match your acquired skills to the qualifications needed for the position.

However, with all the commotion surrounding the need for specific skills and qualifications to carry out a job, some individuals occasionally overlook or underplay people skills. That's why it's common to hear in the workplace that those hired are not given the job they're supposed to, are being compared to others, are kept stagnant with no career advancement, or are even downgraded to lower positions.

Nonetheless, while this is inevitable, one of the major concerns about employee skills is observed in the digital realm. As countries and businesses digitally transform, the issue of providing workers with the right skills at the right time is becoming increasingly important to governments and many digital technology companies.

According to a Digital Talent Insight report released by international consultant Korn Ferry, Asia Pacific will face a 47 million tech talent deficit by 2030. Along the same lines, consulting firm PwC discovered in a survey that more than 50% of chief executives in the region found it difficult to hire digital talent with the necessary skills.

In Singapore, 54% of companies reported that a lack of understanding and knowledge of digital tools among employees is a challenge for successful digital transformation, with only 35% of companies able to implement more sophisticated digital tools such as AI, data analytics, and IoT. This demonstrates how employers are constantly on the lookout for people who possess the necessary set of skills.

Aside from understanding the importance of skills in the workplace, as job seekers, you must be aware that there are two types of skills: hard skills and soft skills. Understand the distinctions and which skills fall into which category so that you can incorporate them more effectively during job searching and application.

Let’s Start With: What Are Hard Skills?

Investopedia describes hard skills as technical skills required to perform a job or land a new one. They're categorised as learning skills that can be developed and improved through education and experience. Typically, they're industry-specific. A financial analyst, for example, will require a different set of hard skills than a carpenter.

A relevant certification, portfolio, or skill assessment test can serve as proof of one's competence in hard skills. Different professions will have different standards for expertise. Advanced degrees and stringent testing will be required for some occupations, such as medical professionals, to demonstrate hard skills. Other professions, like content writers or designers, can learn the necessary skills on the job or on their own time, and they can demonstrate their proficiency with a portfolio of completed work.

Here are a few examples of common hard skills:

  1. Computer software knowledge
  2. Graphic design
  3. Data analysis
  4. Project management
  5. Marketing
  6. Copywriting
  7. Computer programming
  8. Foreign languages
  9. Search engine optimization (SEO)

(Source: Investopedia)

What Are Soft Skills Then?

Soft skills are character traits and interpersonal abilities that define a person's relationships with other people, according to Investopedia. In the workplace, soft skills are viewed as an addition to hard skills, which are a person's knowledge and professional competencies. Sociologists may use the term "soft skills" to describe a person's emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) rather than intelligence quotient (IQ) (IQ).

Even though these interpersonal skills are hard to define or quantify, they're still important in the workplace. They include your personality, teamwork skills and how you participate in the workplace. For instance, individuals working in the event industry need to be excellent team players and communicators, and sales and marketing positions may require relationship-building abilities.

Soft skills come in a variety of forms, just like hard skills. Here are some examples of soft skills required for success in the workplace:

  1. Empathy
  2. Ability to influence peers
  3. Emotional intelligence
  4. Curiosity and positivity
  5. Active listening
  6. Humility
  7. Communication skills
  8. Creative problem-solving
  9. Resilience
  10. Observations skills

(Source: Forbes)

What Are The Primary Distinctions Between The Two?

Employees need soft skills, in addition to hard skills if they're to succeed. The main difference between the two is that hard skills are quantifiable, measurable abilities, whereas soft skills are not. Soft skills are more intangible and more difficult to teach. While soft skills concentrate on attitudes and personalities, hard skills are concerned with practical knowledge and abilities.

Consider hard skills as your technical knowledge, and soft skills as your interpersonal or workplace competencies. A soft skill could be the capacity to perform well in a team, while a hard skill may well be proficiency in a second language.

Check out the table below to see the differences between the two types of skills and some examples of top skills in 2022, as reported by LinkedIn.

Why Is It Important To Have Both Hard And Soft Skills?

There's a famous saying in the job search world that says "Hard skills will get you the interview; soft skills will get you the job," implying both play an equal role in recruitment. When you apply for a job, your hard skills will be evaluated. If your hard skills match the requirements, you will almost certainly be invited to an interview. During the interview, soft skills are tested. The way you present yourself, respond to questions and communicate.

Once you're working, you're not only dealing with the task at hand, but you're also dealing with people and your surroundings. Hard skills are what it takes to do a job well, whereas soft skills assist in coping with and responding to situations. Therefore, it's crucial for everyone to have both hard and soft skills because they show that you are knowledgeable about practical implementation and can contribute to a supportive and constructive work environment.

Since both skills are important when it comes to getting a job. It's essential to understand how to include hard and soft skills when writing a good resume and how to demonstrate them during an interview.

How To Include Those Skills In Your Resume?

Your resume and cover letter should highlight both your hard skills and soft skills. These are the particular skills that employers are looking for. Employers give preference to candidates who have a balance of technical and interpersonal skills, so it's crucial to demonstrate that you have both of these skills.

There are more than 100 essential skills to choose from, but how do you list them on a resume? It's important to lay out your skills on your resume to catch the attention of employers. On your resume, include a section titled "Skills" where you can list all of your hard skills.

Below is an example of how it may look like:

Computer Skills:
Microsoft Word (Advanced); Microsoft PowerPoint (Advanced); Microsoft Excel (Intermediate);

Language: Writing English & Malay
Translating English to Malay, and vice versa
SEO articles
Online research
Creative writing
Creative thinking  

Important To Note: You may have a long list of skills, but there's no need to list them all. Select a few of the most important ones, preferably those that are relevant to the position being applied for. This allows you to talk about your skill set during the interview.

Soft skills should be included in the job descriptions that you create for previous experience. Referring to the job description can help you decide which soft skills to highlight on your resume and cover letter. You should look for any requirements that touch on your motivations or interpersonal skills.

For example: 

  • Enhanced employee engagement through the implementation of efficient internal communication techniques.
  • Employed social media expertise to keep a healthy client portfolio and establish positive public relations.
  • Monitored and supervised a group of employees to achieve organisational growth goals.

How Should You Mention The Relevant Skills During An Interview?

The interview session is the next crucial step in the hiring process where employers will evaluate candidates after reviewing resumes and cover letters. Make sure to prepare for your interview beforehand and keep in mind all the information from your resume's skill requirements and job description.

In an interview, describing your hard skills is somewhat more straightforward than presenting your soft skills. You'll inevitably show that you have the necessary hard skills as you discuss your relevant educational background and work experience.

While soft skills call for a little more application and explanation, the STAR method is a fantastic approach for describing them. It's a methodical way of answering a behavioural-based interview question that involves outlining the precise Situation, Task, Action, and Result of the circumstance you are describing.

When discussing your soft skills in an interview setting, you will be answering questions that demonstrate how you personally manage certain situations.

For example, if you were asked to "Describe a difficult work situation and how you handled it," you could begin by discussing the situation, what you were tasked with, and how your decisions and soft skills assisted you in taking specific action to achieve a specific result.

Your response could be:

“I once had a superior who yell and berate everyone whenever something went wrong. Although I will admit that those kinds of abusive behaviours do affect me, I remained composed at work. I do realise that he was going through a trying time, which is why he occasionally brought that into the office and changed the mood. It didn't affect my work because I could understand his situation, but it was a challenging situation.”

If you're concerned about a lack of hard and soft skills, there are strategies you can use to improve them. These can be extremely helpful when applying for a job that may require additional certifications or abilities that you do not have or need to improve.

How Do You Develop Your Hard Skills And Soft Skills?

Hard skills are typically acquired through education or practical experience. Soft skills, on the other hand, resemble personality traits that you have innately developed throughout your life. For instance, typing would be a technical skill. Nobody has the innate ability to type. Instead, it must be learned over time, typically through learning or education.

As previously stated, soft skills are more interpersonal than technical. Soft skills are typically things that you are already proficient in without having to receive a formal education or practical training. You can still, however, develop your soft skills in the same way that you can develop your hard skills. Here are some suggestions from InsightGlobal.

How To Develop Hard Skills

Learning a new technical skill can make you stand out from other job applicants. A few methods for acquiring hard skills are listed below:

  • Enrol in continuing education courses.
  • Watch YouTube tutorials.
  • Attend a workshop.
  • Put the new skill to use on a personal project, learning by trial and error.

If you already have a job, look for learning opportunities there. Even if you're actively looking for a new job, you can benefit from your current employer's classes, webinars, and workshops.

How To Develop Soft Skills

Improving your soft skills is more difficult, but it's still possible. First, decide which soft skills you want to improve. Conduct an honest self-evaluation. You can also solicit input from your boss, co-workers, family, and friends.

For example, if you are frequently late for work or frequently miss deadlines, you may need to improve your time management skills. If you want to advance in your career, you may need to hone your leadership abilities.

To improve your time management skills, you could first watch a productivity webinar and then apply each tip. To hone your leadership abilities, you could take on a new project at work or request more responsibility in your volunteer role.

Once you've determined which soft skills you want to improve, it's time to get to work. Some soft skills can be acquired through education. All soft skills can be developed through practise. After all, as they say, practise makes perfect!

Know Your Hard Skills And Soft Skills Because They Define You!

Hard skills and soft skills are essential for success in any field you choose to work in, as well as in all aspects of life. Understanding your hard skills may not be difficult since they involve the techniques or knowledge you acquire while in school or while receiving on-the-job training. Consider your positive traits, attitudes, and manners when assessing your soft skills. This extends to how you dress as well as how you speak, listen, make eye contact, and how you interact verbally.

The most crucial aspect is that you must provide compelling examples of how and where you have used each of your skills when identifying and expressing them to employers. In the end, they want to see your work, not just hear about it. Just keep in mind that everyone has a distinctive set of skills, so be sure to properly describe yours to convey who you are.

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