Soft skills and hard skills with examples – how to effectively demonstrate your competencies?

5 min read
Soft skills and hard skills with examples – how to effectively demonstrate your competencies?

In job descriptions, employers often require a combination of hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are associated with specific technical knowledge and skills that we use at work, and soft skills are associated with personal qualities such as leadership, communication and time management. Both types of skills are necessary for successful work and career advancement in most professions.

The main differences between hard skills and soft skills are how they are acquired and used directly in work tasks.

Hard skills are usually acquired in the process of education, vocational training and retraining, and advanced training. Skills include competencies such as knowledge of programming languages, knowledge of a foreign language, and the ability to use equipment, for example, a lathe.

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Soft skills are most often thought of as character traits that you have spent your entire life developing. They are in demand when you are managing your time, communicating with other people, or facing a difficult situation for the first time.

What are Hard skills?

Technical or “hard” skills are the knowledge and skills that you have acquired through life experiences, including learning and working. According to data research, demand for certain professional skills is found in 42% of vacancies.

The set of hard skills depends on the profession, for example:

  • tax specialist – knowledge of highly specialized programs, knowledge of accounting and tax accounting, solving tax planning issues;
  • translator – advanced level of English proficiency, TOEFL certificate, translation of official documents;
  • design engineer – the principle of equipment operation, knowledge of technology, knowledge of strength calculations;
  • teacher – knowledge of the subject, mastery of modern teaching methods, organization and planning of the educational process;
  • editor – creating and editing texts, good language skills and literacy, working with CMS, understanding the basics of SEO and SMM, project management.

Any job requires certain technical skills specific to that profession. For example, if you want to work as a designer, then you need to be able to use graphic editors: AutoCAD and nanoCAD. And in addition, knowledge of technical regulations, building codes, and state standards is required.

What are Soft skills?

Soft skills are the personal habits and traits that shape how you work, independently and with others. For example, effective communication is a key skill that is in demand among employers. Soft skills also include reliability, the ability to work in a team, the ability to listen and hear the interlocutor (active listening).
Soft skills and Hard skills

Soft skills are very important for your career and job search process. While hard skills are necessary to successfully perform technical tasks in the workplace, soft skills are necessary to create a friendly environment in the team. For this reason, employers often look for people who have well-developed soft and hard skills. Some employers prefer to select candidates with a stronger set of soft skills than hard skills, since soft skills are sometimes more difficult to develop.

For example, you may be selected to work in the finance department, but not have all the metrics to analyze information. If you have references that can confirm your soft skills, such as empathy, friendliness and communication skills, then the employer may choose you in favor. In contrast to another candidate whose hard skills are stronger, but he does not have the same set of soft skills.

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Examples of soft skills:

  • honesty;
  • reliability;
  • effective communication;
  • ability to work in a team;
  • creative thinking;
  • adaptability;
  • critical thinking;
  • learning potential;
  • empathy.

What hard and soft skills are important to include in a resume?

It is better to include in your resume the abilities that are most suitable for a specific position. An employer often looks for key skills using hashtags that appear in the text of a resume. Carefully review the job posting for which you are applying. The hard and soft skills that employers want can be found in the job description in the candidate requirements section.

Both hard and soft skills are essential for career success. Although people acquire and develop these skills differently, it is possible to learn and develop both skills before applying for a job.

How to demonstrate your skills during the interview process?

When you reach the interview stage, you will be able to talk more about technical and soft skills. The level of proficiency in hard skills is usually assessed using test tasks. Typically, these are the tasks that the candidate will perform on a daily basis in workflows.

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For example, a task for a designer in the field of production technology is to make a drawing of an equipment installation diagram, a task for a tax specialist is to propose methods for optimizing income tax.

How to demonstrate key soft skills:

  • arrive for the interview on time or a little earlier (punctuality or reliability);
  • listen carefully to the interlocutor and perceive information, participate in the conversation and ask questions (active listening);
  • tell the truth about your relevant experiences (honesty).

How to demonstrate hard skills:

  • tell in detail about your experience and training;
  • provide a portfolio and successful cases;
  • prove your experience by answering technical questions;
  • successfully complete the test task (if required during the interview).
The most effective way to demonstrate your hard and soft skills is to talk about specific cases from your experience. Describe the task at hand, explain the actions you took, and share the specific results you achieved. In other words, use the STAR method – tell examples with a clear structure (situation – task – action – result) that your interviewers can easily understand.
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Margarita Islamova
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