Hard skills vs Soft Skills: What is the Difference?

Individuals must possess a combination of hard and soft skills in order to be classified as a well-rounded applicant. Although soft and hard skills are quite different from one another, together they create a sense of balance. Hard skills show proficiency and knowledge whereas soft skills relate to interpersonal attributes such as communication. 

Having a balance of soft and hard skills have proven to have its advantages as during a job application process you are able to emphasise both skill sets. For instance, if you lack a hard skill that is required by the company, to make up for this you are able to emphasise a soft skill that you believe is valuable. 

Many organisations use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help quicken the recruitment process. ATS is a software that helps to sort and analyse all the applicants. The system also selects those applicants that the system deems as worthy and best fitting for the job. By demonstrating hard skills on your resume, you will be able to get past ATS as you are showing your experience level and qualifications for the advertised job. 


1. What are the hard skills?

Hard skills are taught skills. You can typically learn hard skills through books, in a classroom, through hands-on experience, earned certifications and other training materials. Training and education for hard skills typically have levels of competency and a direct path for excelling. Once you have acquired a hard skill, this skill usually stays with you throughout your entire life. 

Hard skills are specific to each job position and are also the basis of the job requirements in applications. Hard skills allow recruiters to gain an idea and insight into how well you are able to perform your job duties. As previously mentioned, hard skills are very important as they help you pass the ATS. Hard skills are also referred to as resume keywords, as they are the words that recruiters use to search and sort applicants. To ensure you stand out amongst other applicants, use the exact hard skills found in the job description. Individuals must look for skills that are mentioned more than once as those keywords are emphasised and most likely a priority to the hiring manager.

Examples of Hard skills:


2. What are the soft skills?

Soft skills are often skills that you may spend your whole life developing. Soft skills are also known as interpersonal skills or people skills. They are often harder to quantify as they relate to how you interact with other people and how well you work individually or in a team. Soft skills are more subjective as these skills are not taught in school but rather they are often your interpretation of certain experiences. 

Depending on the advertised job position, some organisations place a higher value on soft skills rather than hard skills. Some employers may also prefer to select candidates who have a stronger set of soft skills as they are often more difficult to develop. A job position where soft skills are preferred rather than hard skills can be sales as interactions with clients are required. Soft skills become more convincing when paired with a measurable result for example “Accounting Manager, problem solver with 12 years of experience in monitoring accounting data and producing financial statements”.

Examples of soft skills 

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Listening and engaging in small talk 
  • Getting along with others
  • Etiquette