Hard skills in the workplace
Most job listings request that a candidate possesses both hard and soft skills. While both types of skills are equally important, hard skills are required to perform a job successfully. This type of skill set refers to technical training and knowledge and must be acquired. Here we explore what hard skills are, how hard skills differ from soft skills, examples of in-demand hard skills employers look for, and how to highlight your hard skills on your resume.
What are hard skills?
Hard skills refer to skills that are acquired through technical training, knowledge, education, and practice. For example, carpentry is a hard skill that someone learns through education and most likely an apprenticeship. Hard skills are important because they allow employees to successfully complete complex tasks and can boost productivity and reduce the time needed to train at the onset of a new job. When searching for jobs, you’ll likely come across job listings that ask for specific hard skills such as proficiency in Photoshop or fluency in a second language.
How are hard skills different from soft skills?
Whereas hard skills are considered skills and abilities that are teachable and often learned through education and training, soft skills are considered interpersonal skills and often come naturally to an individual as part of their personality. Soft skills are more subjective and are therefore more challenging to quantify by employers. They most often relate to the skills needed to interact with and relate to others as well as function effectively within a workplace. Hard skills, on the other hand, are typically easy to quantify and are more related to a person’s ability to perform a task rather than their ability to interact with others.
Hard skills examples
The following are several examples of popular hard skills that employers look for in candidates:
Marketing employees require both hard skills and soft skills to perform their duties successfully. Common hard skills associated with marketing positions include social media marketing, copywriting, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), project management, A/B testing, and search engine marketing (SEM).
While communication is most often referred to as a soft skill, there are several communication-related hard skills that employers look for in potential employees. In-demand communication hard skills include transcription, translation, word processing, copywriting, editing, reporting, researching, and proficiency in more than one language.
Data analysis refers to an individual’s ability to analyze and interpret data and use that information to streamline processes and improve company productivity. This type of hard skill is especially useful in financial careers. Common data analysis hard skills include data presentation, data engineering, database management, data mining, and resource management.
Project management is a position that is found in various organizations in several different industries including construction and information technology. Common hard project management skills include adeptness with project management software and agile methodologies.
Several organizations rely on cloud computing to store and manage data. Examples of cloud computing hard skills include cloud applications like Rest and RPC, storage and data management, cloud architecture, networking communication, and cloud middleware technologies.
Information technology professionals are often required to be familiar with several network structure and security hard skills in order to effectively protect an organization’s data. Hard skills associated with network security include risk assessment, encryption algorithms, firewalls, authentication systems, and cryptography.
Graphic designers and other design professionals must possess several design-related hard skills to be effective in their positions. Design technology is ever-evolving, so design professionals must regularly update their skills to keep up with changing technologies. Common hard design skills include user experience (UX) design, user interface (UI) design, digital design software like Zeppelin, and Adobe Creative Suite.
Certifications and degrees
Holding a particular certification or degree in a hard skill such as engineering or woodwork is especially important in careers that require a solid understanding of these skills. Examples of certifications that are especially attractive to employers include human resources certifications, project management certifications, desktop analyst certifications, network certifications, Google certifications, and software certifications.
How to highlight your hard skills on your resume
You have a few different opportunities to highlight your hard skills on your resume. The first area you can emphasize your hard skills is in the skills section of your resume. This section should include both hard and soft skills that are directly related to the job you’re applying for. List each skill as a separate bullet point with all relevant details, such as the title of a certification and the date the certification was obtained.
Additionally, you can highlight your hard skills in the work experience section of your resume. To do so, include the name of the hard skill and how you used it in your previous job or jobs. Be sure to include a specific and quantifiable example of how you used the hard skill, as this is more attractive to hiring managers than simply listing the hard skill with no relevant information on how it was used in the workplace.