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Hard Skills – Definition

Hard Skills Definition

Hard skills are a set of skills or expertise that employees need to carry out a job successfully. Hard skills are often specific to a particular job, and employers list them in the job descriptions when advertising jobs online.

Examples of hard skills are; a degree, certificate or diploma, language proficiency, machine operation, typing skills, programming skills, accounting skills, or writing. One can acquire hard skills by getting a formal education in colleges or online, and through attending training programs.

A Little More on What are Hard Skills

Hiring managers mostly use hard skills to determine the suitability of a candidate for employment. Employers also go for employees with excellent soft skills, as they are skills that will enable an employee to be productive in the workplace. Soft skills include communication skills, interaction with others, leadership skills, ability to solve problems,

Generally, hard skills are the knowledge you acquire through training and practice either at work, in school, or technical institutions. For example;

  • An employee may learn how to use a point-of-sale (POS) system by working in the retail industry.
  • An accountant knows how to use excel after attending classes in school.
  • You can speak German fluently because you are leaning it in school and you keep practicing how to speak the language.

Every industry requires employees with specific technical skills relevant to the industry. In the field of architecture, one will need to learn how to use the drafting software to create perfect building designs. The architects also need to seek certification from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), by taking an examination.

A couple of other industries give participants exams to test their competency and skills before employment. Some employers also provide their employees with on-the-job training and certification programs to enhance their skills. Below is a list of hard skills that are on-demand;

  • Data warehousing and data mining
  • Network security
  • Database management
  • Search Engine Optimization marketing
  • Mobile development
  • Web design and development
  • Programming using languages like; Java, Python, and Ruby
  • Adobe software suite

Hard Skills versus Soft Skills

People often associate hard skills with the left side of the brain and relate soft skills to the right side of the brain. However, neurologists say that it isn’t easy to categorize the mental processes of the brain.

Hard skills have rules that apply everywhere regardless of the industry, but soft skills do not apply in every industry as employees can change them depending on the expectations of the employer. For instance, the semantics of programming will never change, but the communication skills that a programmer uses to address managers and his juniors may differ.

A person can acquire hard skills by learning in schools, apprenticeships, or through reading books, meaning it has a path that one can follow. For example, by attending lectures and gaining work experience, one can become a certified accountant. On the other hand, no one teaches soft skills in schools. Rather, people acquire them by attending programs.

Highlighting your skills

To attract potential employers in your field of expertise, it is important to always highlight your hard skills and soft skills in your application letter and resume. Create a section in your resume listing the skills which will attract the hiring managers.

Always read the job descriptions carefully to know the skills to sell and the ones you shouldn’t sell. In some cases, you may lack the hard skill that the employer wants, but you are fit for the job. You can highlight any relevant soft skills that can help you secure the position in the company.

References for “Hard Skills


https://www.investopedia.com › Personal Finance › Career / Compensation




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