If you’ve ever spent much time researching the job hunting process or speaking with a career counselor, then you’ve probably heard the term “hard skills.” But what exactly are they, and how are soft skills different? What are the most in-demand hard skills employers look for today? If you’re looking for answers to questions like this, then you are in luck! The following information will discuss everything you need to know about hard skills.
What Are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are the more technical abilities you possess that are required for specific jobs. These include technical skills that are needed to complete particular tasks and the knowledge needed for individuals to efficiently fill a role. These are different from soft skills in that they are job-specific and usually included in job descriptions and postings.
Hard skills are learned through training programs and formal education, such as internships, college, online courses, certification programs, short-term training classes, and even on-the-job training.
Why Are Hard Skills Important?
For the most part, all jobs require hard skills, including many professional positions. Think back to the last job description that you read. More than likely, there was a list of skills required and you may have even had to submit proof such as certifications or degrees. When you possess specific hard skills, it shows your ability to successfully fulfill all job duties.
For most companies and professions, having hard skills is vital to ensure that the company’s future is profitable. However, these hard skills are crucial in other cases for preventing catastrophic results. For example, a surgeon must have a very specific hard skill set that allows them to operate safely on a patient. A pipefitter must exact their application of hard skills to prevent issues like gas leaks.
Hard Skills Hiring Managers Notice
According to LinkedIn, some of the most in-demand hard skills include:
- SEO/SEM Marketing
- User Interface Design
- Data Presentation
- Cloud and Distributed Computing
- Data Mining and Statistical Analysis
- Development Framework and Web Architecture
Examples of Hard Skills
Hard skills are technical skills that are learned in a more formal setting. Here are some examples of hard skills:
Many technical skills require you to know specific equipment or software. These skills are often needed for positions that deal with engineering, information technology, and science.
Hard technical skills are required for many modern roles and can include these:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
- Network Administration
- Artificial Intelligence
Collecting and analyzing data is a core function of many analytical skills. Having the ability to accurately draw conclusions from data is crucial for many industries.
Hard analytical skills include:
- System Information for Windows (SIW)
- Web Analytics
- Structured Query Language or SQL
- Data Visualization and Presentation
- Google Analytics
Knowing how to effectively use a computer is a vital part of most modern-day jobs. However, computer skills is a broad term that includes everything from coding advanced computer programs to basic computer literacy.
Examples of hard computer skills include:
- Web Browsers such as Safari, Chrome, or Firefox
- Google Suite Programs
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Social Media
- Antivirus Programs
- Adobe PDF Reader
Hard skills needed for marketing can encompass a wide variety of abilities. For example, it may mean that you need experience with certain platforms or programs required to create and track marketing campaigns.
Here are some examples of hard marketing skills:
- Google Search Console and Google Analytics
- Press Release Writing
- Social Media Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization or SEO
- Email Marketing
Communication skills are essential to help effectively tell and show ideas and information to others. This can be something simple, like writing professional emails to clients, or more detailed such as creating images and graphs to explain certain concepts.
Here are some examples of hard communication skills:
- Excel for models and graphs
- Data Visualization
- Foreign Languages
- Translation and Transcription
- Graphic Design
Business and Management Skills
Business and management hard skills are those required to operate or work within a business. These skills may involve using certain programs, such as ADP or Quickbooks, to ensure the company runs smoothly.
Here are some other examples of hard business and management skills:
- Project Management
- Bookkeeping or Budgeting
Other Hard Skills
We can list hard skills for days. In general, if the skill is something that can be learned and you can prove your expertise – it’s probably a hard skill. Some are tied to specific industries, while others can be linked to most companies.
Here are some additional examples of hard skills:
- Automotive Technology
- Content Management Systems
- Wireless Broadcast Systems
- Human Resources Information Systems
- Proposal Writing
- Electrical Engineering
- Carpentry or Plumbing
- Auditing or Accounting
- Adobe Creative Suite
How to Highlight Your Hard Skills
The best place to show off your soft and hard skills are on your resume and cover letter. When listing them, be sure to include all technical skills that you’ve acquired, as well as any foreign languages you speak.
Typically, you want to include anywhere from 10 to 30 skills on your resume, of which more than half should be hard skills. The most important thing to remember is to list all hard skills that are relevant to the position for which you’re applying. You can usually find these abilities spelled out in the job description or posting.
When it comes to your cover letter, it’s best to expand upon the hard skills you’ve listed in your resume. You can weave these into the narrative to help prove you’re the best candidate for the position. The key thing to remember is that showcasing soft and hard skills in your cover letter and resume will demonstrate to employers that you possess the technical abilities and interpersonal skills to work efficiently within the company.
Improving Hard Skills
Hard skills are best acquired through in-person or online courses at a college or other training platform. The best way to improve your existing hard skills is to practice them and gain experience before applying them to a career. This way, you’ll know how to use them correctly once you land your dream job.
Getting a job today in most industries can be very challenging. The competition is stiff, so possessing many hard skills is a great way to make you stand out from the crowd. In the end, having a good balance of well-developed soft and hard skills will ensure you get the job you want!