Hard Skills Versus Soft Skills on Your Resume

Hard Skills Versus Soft Skills on Your Resume

When you are looking for a job, it is helpful to know what kind of skills employers are looking for in job candidates. Skills come in two main types: hard skills and soft skills.

All employers are interested in hiring people with a combination of both hard and soft skills, but which specific skills they want depends on the position and the company’s culture.

What Are Hard Skills?

Hard skills are abilities and skill sets that allow you to accomplish something concrete. They tend to be skills that you went to school to learn or learned on the job. When you have a hard skill, you are able to demonstrate proficiency in it by completing a task. For example, if you are applying for a position as a computer programmer, the ability to code using C+ or Java is a hard skill.

Many times, you are able to point to a degree or certificate to show that you have a specific hard skill. Here are some examples of hard skills for resume inclusion:

  • Fluency in a foreign language
  • A degree or certification such as a bachelor’s degree, private pilot’s license or project management certification (PMP)
  • Graphic design
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office
  • Statistical analysis and data mining
  • Copywriting
  • Engineering
  • Patient care
  • Cloud and distributed computing
  • Auto/boat/airplane mechanical servicing and repair
  • Electrical contracting and repair

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are personality traits and interpersonal skills. They are difficult to quantify or prove, since it usually takes some time in a job for the individual to demonstrate these skills. While hard skills are more applicable to the nitty gritty of doing a job, soft skills enable you to get along with co-workers, motivate and lead others and contribute to a positive team morale. Here are some soft skill examples for resume lists:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Leadership
  • Flexibility
  • Ability to work with a team
  • Problem solving abilities
  • Perseverance
  • Creativity
  • Empathy
  • Negotiation
  • Collaboration
  • Being self-motivated
  • Organization
  • Responsibility

Soft skills are things that transcend industry and company and can be applied to many different organizations and situations. Since many of them are personality-based and refined through years of dealing with people, they are difficult to teach to people, unlike hard skills which can be conveyed by training. This is why many employers pay more attention to your resume soft skills. In companies that have a strong workplace culture, soft skills will be particularly important because the hiring manager wants to find new employees who fit in with the company’s culture and values.

How to Best Communicate Your Skills

In order to get the interview, you will need to let employers know that you have the hard skills and soft skills they are looking for the most. You will initially do this in your resume and cover letter. First, look at the job description in the job posting. It will have some hard skills as well as a list of soft skills for resume inclusion.

Yes, this means that you should modify your resume for each job because you will be more successful if your hard skills and soft skills exactly match those listed in the job description. You may notice that some companies list mostly hard skills or mostly soft skills while others will have a blend of both.

If it is more lopsided toward one or the other, this tells you how much to emphasize one versus the other in your resume. Jobs that are more technical, such as mechanical engineering, will emphasize hard skills while jobs that deal with people such as human resources positions, will talk more about soft skills.

For technical jobs, you may want to list your top 20 hard skills in a separate section at the top of your resume, above your experience. This will let the hiring manager know right away that you have the requisite skill set.

Soft skills are best demonstrated within your description of your responsibilities and accomplishments in the experience section. For example, you can show that you have the skill of problem solving by outlining a problem you encountered, how you solved it and what the outcome was.

Personality skills examples:

  • Discovered a $2 million error in the marketing budget and created a new forecasted budget to take into account actual funds available (shows analytical ability and adaptability)
  • Keynote speaker at industry conference on innovative new products, resulting in $750,000 in pre-orders (demonstrates public speaking and communication skills plus persuasion)
  • Mobilized company outreach effort to community members affected by Hurricane Ida, helping them find temporary shelter and basic necessities (shows empathy and organizational skills)
  • Collaborated with sales team to get feedback from customers that improved customer satisfaction by 10% (teamwork skills resume example)

Hard Skills to Put on Resume

How do you know which hard skills should be listed on your resume? As mentioned, the job description is a great place to start. Sometimes, they list required skills and other skills they would like but are not requiring. Of course, the more of these skills you have on your resume, the better fit you will be for the job. It will depend on the job you are going for, but here are some job types and the hard skills companies typically look for:

  • Computer technology jobs
    • Microsoft Office Suite
    • Google Drive Suite
    • Trello
    • Zoom
    • Machine learning
    • HTML, Javascript, CSS
    • SAS, MySQL, Apache
  • Marketing
    • Social media
    • Data analytics
    • Copywriting
    • Search engine optimization
    • Google Analytics and Google Search Console
    • Content management systems (CMS)
    • A/B testing
    • Pay per click (PPC)
  • Project management
    • Project management software like Trello, Ryver and Zoho
    • Strategic planning
    • PMP certification
    • Agile methodologies like Scrum
    • Budgeting
  • Design
    • User interface design (UI) and user experience (UX) design
    • Adobe Creative Suite
    • Digital product design software like InVision
    • CAD software
    • Video production sotwawre like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro
  • Writing
    • Email writing
    • Copywriting
    • Copyediting
    • Content management
    • Storyboarding
    • Report writing
    • SEO copywriting

Soft Skills to Put on Resume

Like hard skills, the soft skills that should be on your resume should be applicable to the type of job you will have and how you will be interacting with people, including other employees, customers and vendors/partners. Most jobs involve some kind of teamwork among employees and all jobs require communication so those should really be shown on all resumes.

Here is a good rule of thumb depending on how you interact with others:

  • Mostly working with peers inside and outside of your department
    • Teamwork
    • Communication
    • Mutual respect
    • Active listening
    • Verbal communication
    • Presentation skills
  • Working with people that you supervise or manage
    • Leadership
    • Motivation
    • Active listening
    • Constructive criticism
    • Delegation
    • Conflict management
  • Working with little supervision and/or in a fast-paced environment
    • Self-management
    • Self-motivation
    • Decision making
    • Organization
    • Open-mindedness
    • Agility
    • Problem solving

By Admin