The skills you need to succeed in your career are constantly changing. This is especially true if you’re working in a rapidly evolving field such as technology or healthcare. While hard and soft skills have a lot in common, there are some key differences between them that you should consider before determining which are most important for your career success.
Hard skills vs soft skills
Hard skills are the technical skills you need to do your job. They’re typically measured by test scores, certifications and degrees. Examples of hard skills include programming languages, typing speed and using Excel. Soft skills are more about how well you work with others and include communication, problem solving, management and leadership.
Soft skills can help you land a job or promotion – so it’s important to know what they are and how to use them effectively in your career.
Hard skills refer to the information and abilities you can learn through formal education or on-the-job training. These are often related to technical know-how, such as nursing practices, accounting procedures or specific software tools. Hard skills are easy to identify and measure because they have well-defined objectives that can be tested in an objective manner. For example, the ability to write reports using Microsoft Word, or the ability to take care of patients in an inpatient or outpatient facility.
Hard skills can often be learned in school or by attending online classes, but may also come from on-the-job training programs at your place of employment. Because hard skills are so measurable and easily identified, employers will typically want candidates who have them as part of their job requirements – and sometimes even as prerequisites – for obtaining positions.
Soft skills are non-technical skills that help you do well in your job. They include interpersonal skills – the ability to work well with others, to communicate and listen effectively, and to manage people and projects successfully. They also include self-management skills, self-awareness, motivation and goal setting.
A crucial part of soft skills development is learning to develop these abilities yourself. This can be done through self-analysis, identifying what you already do well or need to improve on, working with a coach or mentor who can guide you through the process, or reading articles about soft skill development.
Many free resources are available for those interested in improving their soft skills. You can also take an online class to enhance your soft skills.
Top soft skills
Soft skills are crucial to your professional development, but they can be hard to define and measure.
To help you develop your soft skills, we’ve put together a list of the four most important ones. These skills will make or break your success as an employee and help you thrive in any industry.
- Communication skills
Communication is the backbone of every successful business relationship. The ability to communicate effectively with others makes it possible for you to build trust, collaborate effectively, and resolve conflicts in ways that enhance relationships rather than tear them down.
- Time management skills
Time management is another skill that will help you succeed at work and beyond. A lack of time management can lead to missed deadlines, problems completing projects on time, and more stress than is necessary.
- Teamwork skills
Even if you’re a solo worker who never has to rely on anyone else for help, teamwork still matters because it affects how well you work with others, whether they’re coworkers or clients, customers or suppliers. You can build strong teams by knowing how to interact with people from different backgrounds and personalities, being open-minded about other people’s ideas and views, and being flexible when needed.
- Leadership skills
Leaders need to make decisions every day – some big and some small – so they must be able to weigh options carefully and choose what’s best for the organization as a whole, rather than acting on impulse or personal preference alone. A good leader also knows how and when to involve others in decision-making so that they can get input from more than one perspective before making choices that affect everyone within an organization or team structure.
Know the difference to succeed
The first thing you need to know about soft and hard skills is that they’re not the same. A hard skill is more tangible, such as computer programming or accounting – something that you can point to and say: ‘I know how to do that.’ Soft skills are more intangible. They don’t have a strict definition per se, but they’re things such as communication and leadership – skills that help you work well with others or manage projects efficiently.
Some employers may prefer candidates with experience in hard skills over those with only soft ones (especially if the position requires special training). Still, in general, it’s a good idea for job seekers to make sure that their resumes include both types of expertise. Job candidates should try to put themselves into positions where they can pick up any additional soft skill training they might need while working toward their goals.
Once you do land an interview, make sure that all your answers during those Q&A sessions demonstrate not just what type of technical proficiency you’ve acquired through the years, but also how much thoughtfulness goes into every decision you make.
An online course can help you earn hard skills and soft skills
While it may seem like you have to go back to school to earn hard and soft skills, there are a few ways to get the training you need without having to leave your home. One of the most convenient options is through online courses offered by Baylor University Online.
Baylor University Online offers a wide range of nursing degrees and certificates to help you train for jobs in the highly demanding healthcare field. These can be very beneficial for expanding your current skillset, and allow you to study while continuing with work.
When it comes to skills, you need both hard and soft, but which is more important? This depends on your career goals and what you want to do with your life. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in nursing, technology or business, then hard skills will be essential for success. On the other hand, if you want to become an accountant or teacher or something else where soft skills are crucial, then working towards improving your soft skills would be the best route to success.