(2 minute read)
If you want to progress your career to the next level, you’re going to need to demonstrate your development in two key skill areas: hard and soft skills.
A hard skill is your (technical) ability to carry out a specific task, (e.g., Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Desktop Publishing, or Audio/Video Production). Soft skills affect ‘how’ you perform that task within your workplace, (e.g., collaboration, persuasion, communication, problem solving, and teamwork).
Historically, employers tended to focus on hard skills. However, in today’s modern workplace, they are increasingly seeking soft skills as a differentiator – consider the highly-skilled technical operator who is unapproachable and uncompromising in their opinions and behaviours!
Hard skills are easier to quantify – they encompass the technical knowledge you learn via theory, or on the job. Typically, you prove them through certificates, degrees, or qualifications. In contrast, soft skills, are more subjective – you can’t show a future employer you achieved an A+ in networking!
In a world driven by technology and automation, it’s easy to fall into the thinking that hard skills are all you’ll need. However, while machines can carry out tasks that were previously only performed by humans, they can’t practice emotion or empathy – this remains the realm of humans, and their behavioural (soft) competencies.
Soft skills are also referred to as enterprise skills, as they are transferable between professions and occupations.
While employers will (rightly) have expectations upon a candidate’s hard skills, making the investment in improving our soft skills can bring significant benefits to individuals and businesses alike.