Your resume should contain a strong mix of hard and soft skills to ensure you are competitive among other job seekers.

As you develop the content for your resume, it's critical to ensure the skills you list mirror the job description. Every advertisement for an open position will require that job candidates possess a variety of hard skills and soft skills. Without developing an understanding of the difference between the two, you may inadvertently leave something out of your resume that should be included.

By including a mixture of hard skills and soft skills, you'll not only get through the Applicant Tracking System but also impress hiring managers. What are the key differences between hard skills and soft skills?

Hard skills defined

Hard skills are things you know how to do because of education and experience. They are quantifiable and can be tracked throughout your career. 

Don't be confused if you see the phrases hard skills and technical skills used interchangeably. Technical skills aren't only referring to the computer proficiencies you possess. Hiring managers, recruiters, and human resources departments use both to mean anything you're technically able to do within a particular role. 

You could find yourself in a position to prove the adequacy of your hard skills. Certain jobs like welders, software development professionals, and sales require a test during the interview phase. In fact, according to the Washington Post, the use of pre-hire competency tests is on the rise.

Some examples of hard skills

If you're in marketing, you probably know how to research market trends and develop customer insights. Nurses can push medications through an IV without batting an eye. While every role will have a set of hard skills that are not used in any other role, there is some overlap. For example, here is a list of hard skills that you could possess no matter what role you seek:

  • Computer literacy: The use of computers touches every facet of life. Gone are the days of working with pen and paper because even the most blue-collar position will have some need for computer usage. 

  • Data analytics: You may not know what regression analysis is or how to build a statistical model to forecast business needs. However, chances are that you know how to look at the information within a business, department, or project and gain an understanding of what needs to happen next. 

  • Language proficiencies: Bilingualism and multilingualism are becoming more and more important as the world gets smaller. Since the ability to speak multiple languages isn't a personality trait you're born with, it falls into the hard skills category. 

  • Remote working: Even as recently as a few years ago, this skill wasn't as prevalent as it is now. COVID-19 forced a lot of people out of their offices and into their homes where a host of new skills were born.

Soft skills defined

As you can expect, soft skills are exactly the opposite of hard skills. Soft skills are personality traits or characteristics you possess–things you're born with or that have developed through life experiences–that make you good at what you do. They aren't quantifiable, but they can be tracked.

If your soft skills aren't up to par, they can be developed through coursework, self-help seminars, and practice. When you effectively utilize soft skills on your resume, you show the new company that you understand how to do things like create a positive culture, articulate concepts in an understandable way, or easily adapt to changing environments.

In some instances, you can make up for a lack of hard skills by capitalizing on your soft skills. Employers understand that hard skills can be taught. Soft skills aren't so easy to teach. Though they can be developed or enhanced, you generally either have them or you don't. 

Some examples of soft skills

Skills like time management, communication, and creativity let hiring managers know how well you'll work within the organization and team. Do you manage stress well? If so, that hints at your ability to take on complex issues. Here's a list of some of the top soft skills sought after by today's hiring managers:

  • Communication skills: According to CNBC, 6.1 million jobs ask for candidates to have some type of proficiency with communication

  • Critical thinking: Since COVID-19, overcoming challenges has taken on new meaning. Hiring managers want people who can think on their feet and creatively resolve problems. 

  • Leadership: You may not have a team of people who report to you, but if you're good at inspiring others to do things you get to claim that you have leadership skills. 

  • Resilience: This is an often overlooked soft skill and ranks right up there with confidence. Everyone everywhere faces challenges and being able to demonstrate that you bounce back from hardship can put you ahead of other job seekers. 

How to measure hard and soft skills

You've heard that you have to write an achievement-based resume. But, how do you list hard skills and soft skills in a way that demonstrates accomplishment?

Hard skills are measured with numbers, percentages, and dollar signs. If you are a Real Estate Agent, you might mention how much revenue you've brought in or how many transactions you've closed within a given time frame. 

Soft skills, on the other hand, don't produce tangible results, but they can still be measured. When you talk about a soft skill on your resume, use an action phrase. Have you ever improved a procedure because the results of performing it were erratic? That's a great soft skill and can be worded by using “Turned around underperforming procedure” as your action phrase.

Key takeaways

When you write your resume, there should be a question about whether to use hard skills versus soft skills. By employing a mix of both, you'll keep yourself competitive and even stand out from others.

Do you need help with injecting the proper mix of hard skills and soft skills into your resume? TopResume has a team of expert resume writers standing by to help!

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