Soft Skills vs Hard Skills
It's day one of your new job hunt. You're motivated, excited and you've removed all those embarrassing posts from social media. You're ready to go. But what skills are you going to shout about on your CV and all those job applications?
You might not realise it, but every employer is looking for a perfect mix of soft skills and hard skills, and when presented well together they can create a powerful combination to make you stand out.
If you're not quite sure how to define them though, or how soft skills can be one of your biggest advantages, we're here to help.
So what's the difference between the two?
They're tangible, measurable and usually something that has been taught either at school or university or via a qualification gained through a certification body. These are the technical skills you can match exactly back to the job description and are very specific requirements.
These are a lot more difficult to define as they relate to your specific personality, with many of them falling under what we'd know as "People Skills". Be careful though, as just putting "people skills" down on your CV can come off as a little cliche and isn't really telling your whole story.
These often aren't learned skills but relate to how you emotionally react to situations and how you interact with other people as well as less tangible things like creativity and motivation. As a result, soft skills often cover a far broader range of topics and personality traits and tend to be acquired through a lifetime of personal experience.
What are some examples of hard skills?
These are the most obvious hard skills and can be things such as an accountancy qualification, a language proficiency certificate or a university degree. These are what employers look for as evidence you have the core competencies to do a job.
The use of a particular tool or device, examples being a license to operate a specific vehicle or being trained in the use of a specific coding language.
What are some examples of soft skills?
One of the most critical soft skills you can have and important for interacting with both clients and coworkers. Try to demonstrate this through specific examples of good client feedback you've had over the years or good character references.
Expressing yourself clearly is vital in any workplace, whether through the written word, presentations or a role that needs a lot of direct verbal communication. If you can't get your voice heard effectively, another candidate is going to take your place.
A skill a lot of employers are looking for. If you can demonstrate not only are you able to interact well with other people, but also inspire them, you'll be on to a winning application.
A lot of us are uncomfortable with the idea of conflict in the workplace and do our best to avoid it, which is why this can often be overlooked soft skill. But if you can show an employer you're confident in tough situations and can handle conflict with empathy, you'll definitely stand out from other candidates.
Another critical skill. Modern workplaces often call on staff to take on multiple different tasks or take on new challenges at short notice. Employers are on the lookout for candidates that can adapt to change and pressure with a calm and measured response.
One of the classic soft skills and one you'll see on almost every CV. We'd again recommend drawing on some specific examples here rather than just using the generic statement.
The above are just a small sample of the dozens of soft skills you could have at your disposal. Other examples covering things like creativity and a strong work ethic to a strong problem solving ability and team-working. Remember to tailor your CV and application to highlight your strongest soft skills.
How can soft skills help you land a job?
They can make you likeable
You might have all the qualifications and training in the world but if a recruiter or interviewer finds you rude, abrasive or aloof you're not going to get hired. Managers aren't just looking for the technical skill to do a job, they need to know a candidate can gel well with the team and clients on a personal level, is capable of forming lasting relationships and isn't going to let them down.
They differentiate you from other candidates
It's more than likely every other candidate is going to have exactly the same hard skills as you. So where you really shine is through your soft skills. They bring your unique lived experience to a role that other candidates may not have and can demonstrate exactly why you fit with the company's values.