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Hard skills Vs soft skills has always been a hot topic of debate when it is about hiring and training employees. However, both skills are different in nature. Hard skills are job-specific skills. While, soft skills are related to personality attributes. Moreover, the difference between hard skills and soft skills lies in the nature, applicability, and measurement metrics. But often, the hiring team ends up giving preference to hard skills and technicalities. This often leads to hiring the right people for the wrong job and vice versa. It further results in a lack of employee morale and project failures. So, this write-up specifically aims to understand the two skills in detail.
Also, to reduce this hotchpotch there is only one solution. There is a need to understand the concept of hard skills Vs soft skills in-depth. Hiring teams will have to come up with innovation when it comes to training the employees if they want an energetic workforce. It will lead to better hiring and training processes as well as a positive workplace environment. So, this calls for a better understanding of the difference between hard skills and soft skills.
Definitions: Hard skills Vs soft skills
Definition of Hard skill:
Hard skills are the skills that are technical and job-centric in nature. Every job has certain criteria for the required technical skills.
For instance, an accountant should be able to pass the journal entries and should know the use of the required software.
An individual can prove hard skills through certifications and demos if required. These skills are easy to identify and measure with the help of various performance metrics. Thus, the definition of hard skills is more job-specific and measurement related.
Definition of Soft skill:
Soft skills are non-technical and related to the attitudes, behavior, and experience of a person. In the long run, these are very important. But, at the same time are difficult to identify. Also, training the employees in soft skills is a tough task as every individual differs in their personal space and attributes.
For instance, a person in sales and marketing should have strong networking and customer-relationship-building skills. This depends on the person’s communication skills.
Also, setting a specific metric for measuring soft skills is difficult as it will differ for every person. Thus, the definition of soft skill is- an attribute that can be implied from an individual’s personal experiences, actions, and internal qualities.
Hard skills Vs soft skills: What’s the Difference?
Hard skills are related to how well an individual is trained for a job. These skills can be easily identified and measured on a certain scale.
For example, software engineers can be tested based on their knowledge of coding and its practical application.
Soft skills are related to the interpersonal abilities of an individual. However, these skills are not that easy to pin down but can be estimated based on the job profile. These skills are tough to be measured on a metric scale.
For example, a project manager must have excellent communication and time management skills to ensure the success of the project. However, these skills are difficult to be rated on the basis of a few parameters as it would be subjective.
While hiring any candidate as an employee of the company, the employers need to keep in mind the right mix of hard skills and soft skills. Often, both are confused to be the same. Although, the hiring teams are considering this difference due dynamic changes in workplace.
According to a study conducted, more than 90% of employers believe that soft skills are very essential for their business growth. However, more than 50% of employees fail to mention them in their resumes or CV.
The difference between hard skills and soft skills is that the former deals with technical abilities while the latter with the personal attributes of an individual.
The difference between hard skills and soft skills can be explained with the following list of interesting examples.
Hard skills Vs soft skills: Interesting Examples
There has been a lot of competition in recent times when it comes to job opportunities. Thus, employers are strictly looking for the ‘perfect mix’ of hard skills and soft skills. To ensure that you do not miss out on the opportunity, here is a list of interesting examples of both the skills that are the most in-demand currently.
Examples of In-demand Hard Skills of 2023:
- Data Analytics
- Blockchain Developing
- Sales and Digital Marketing
- Cloud Computing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Accounting and budgeting
- Content Creation, Writing and Content Strategy
Examples of In-demand Soft Skills of 2023:
- Pressure Handling Ability
- Team building and Collaboration
- Innovation and Creativity
- Communication and Leadership
- Flexibility and Time management
- Organizational skills
- Risk-taking Ability
- Initiative taking Ability
Therefore, it is easy to make out from the above examples, that the difference between hard skills and soft skills lies in the nature and application of the skill.
Hard skills Vs soft skills: How to Evaluate Candidates?
Before hiring any candidate as an employee it is always preferable to run certain tests. These tests should be unique. The candidates should have an equal opportunity to prove their abilities. In addition, the difference between hard skills and soft skills possessed by an individual must get clear with the following evaluation techniques.
Hard Skills Evaluation Techniques:
This being a tried and tested method gives an overview of a candidate’s basic information regarding education, qualification, and skill set. This method makes the eligibility of a candidate, clear.
We live in times of “Show not tell.” A portfolio does exactly that. Through a portfolio, candidates can express directly the hard skills effectively possessed by them.
- Trial Assignments
This method is very common. The company can test the candidates on its own terms. The assignments allotted test the candidate’s hard skills on a real-time basis. It brings clarity as to how well a candidate will be able to perform as an employee.
- Demo Projects
Apart from assignments, there is a quick way to test a candidate’s job abilities. Serving a demo clarifies the job abilities of a candidate, much similar to the assignment method. The only difference being a demo take less time compared to full-time assignments.
- Job Specific Interviews
As it becomes clear that the company has zeroed down on specific applicants, it may conduct job interview rounds. The first interview would be taking into account the overall personality of the candidate, followed by a demo and trials. So, if everything goes well, the successful candidates will face a core hard skill interview to prove their knack for the job.
Soft Skills Evaluation Techniques
- Simulation tests
This would be the best to test a candidate’s soft skills. Under this method, the applicants would be put through a simulated artificial environment to test their soft skills and presence of mind. The candidate might not know the environment is simulated.
- Situational Problem-solving tests
This method is quite similar to a simulated environment. The problems are deliberately designed to test how well a candidate can solve them using their soft skills.
For instance, a candidate might be given a situation whereby the customer engagement of a brand is low. The candidate will be given the responsibility of increasing the engagement of the audience.
- Soft Skills related Interview Questions
This would be a direct method to test the soft skills of a candidate. The interview questions are designed effectively so that the skill set automatically gets clear.
- Personality Tests
These tests are specifically designed to check on the overall grooming (mental, physical, and emotional) of a candidate. This test will make it clear whether a person is even eligible for the job.
Thus, the difference between hard skills and soft skills is quite evident from the above evaluation techniques. Employers must consider this difference before employing anyone as an employee.
Hard skills Vs soft skills: Skill Development Process by Corporates
Hard Skill Development Process:
- Identify the required skills to be developed
Pin-point focus on areas of expertise of the employees and develop the same.
- Provide appropriate and regular training sessions
Training should be provided at regular intervals of time and not abruptly.
For instance, half-yearly, quarterly, and annually.
- Provide the required resources
Access to workshops, seminars, and online courses should be provided
- Allot time for practice
Practice time should differ with work responsibilities to avoid mess and burnout of employees.
- Assign opportunities to prove capability
Every employee should have an equal opportunity of proving themselves. This will boost their confidence.
- Provide an actionable feedback
Constructive feedback is always welcome. Actionable feedback will allow the employees to introspect and accordingly then act.
- Motivate continuous learning
Leaders should always push for persistent learning, as it is a life-long process. It helps employees develop their abilities beyond imagination
- Recognition and incentives based on performance
This will make the employee feel worth the effort. This will in turn motivate them to continue in the long run.
Soft Skill Development Process:
- Identify the required set of soft skills
The company needs to be clear regarding the required soft skills in its workforce.
- Encourage self-introspection
Encouraging the employees to introspect helps them become self-aware of their strengths and weakness, which can be further worked upon.
- Organize workshops and activities
Organizing group exercises and motivating employees to attend workshops and seminars will help them to tackle the environment outside work, better. This will make them more confident and open to new challenges.
- Provide mentoring and appropriate coaching
Right guidance combined with core capabilities is a lethal success combination for both, the company and the employees.
- Provide opportunities to prove capabilities
Provide fair opportunities to prove soft skills. This will help the employees, to become self-aware of their progress.
- Provide feedback
Appropriate and constructive critique guides a person in the right direction.
- Recognize and reward efforts
This provides identity to the efforts of the employees further encouraging them to take a few steps more towards development.
Thus, the difference between hard skills and soft skills is that the former can be learned through formal instruction but the latter has to be imbibed only from experiences and personal growth.
Hard skills Vs soft skills: Resume Requirements of a Candidate
Your resume is a snapshot of your basic academic information, your relevant background, and the skills you possess. So, if you are a candidate and going to design a resume for yourself, then you are reading the right space!
While designing a resume for yourself or for anyone else for that matter, you need to showcase the right skills at the right place. But, at the same time, one should be careful with the right density and mix of skills mentioned. The difference between hard skills and soft skills in your resume will illustrate your range of attributes.
Wondering how to present your skills on a resume? Just have a look at the following template!
The template provides a well-organized snapshot of the candidate and the skills that the person carries.
This step will make your resume stand out from the rest of the others. Thereby, you will have more chance of getting selected for an interview.
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So, from the above write-up, it is clear that we cannot determine which skill is more important in the debate of hard skills vs soft skills. It is quite evident that to be successful in a career, you must possess both with the right mix. Although, hard skills might help you land a job while soft skills will help your personal and professional growth.
The hiring professionals are always on the lookout for individuals having both the set of skills and the knowledge, of how to drive a career out of it.
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Frequently Asked Questions
We cannot determine which is better than the other, as both skills are important for an enterprise and an individual to grow.
Usually, the hard skills are checked on first by the human resource team, but along with it they also test a candidate for their soft skills before offering the job opportunity.
Hard skills are easier to learn as training is possible. But, soft skills develop only with practice.
Hard skills train you for the job on hand, while soft skills help you handle a situation better and solve problems. However, the difference between hard skills and soft skills lies in how one applies them.
Leadership is primarily a soft skill. For some individuals it is natural, while some need training.