Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: How to Leverage Your Experience to Land a New Job
Experience is important in finding a job, and so are the skills you bring to the table. Before making a hiring decision, employers will review your experience and try to determine if you’ve developed the right set of skills needed to do the job successfully.
For just about any job out there, employers will want to hire someone with a mix of hard and soft skills. Knowing the difference between these two types of skills — and how to highlight them in an interview — can increase your chances of standing out and landing the job. We’ll discuss the differences in these types of skills, as well as how to leverage them on job boards like ZipRecruiter.
What Are Hard Skills?
Sometimes called technical skills, hard skills are measurable abilities that you learn. You can pick up hard skills in a college classroom, in trade school, through self-paced e-learning or even on the job.
Here are some examples of a few in-demand hard skills:
Degrees, Certificates and Certifications
Whether it’s a doctorate degree or a CPR certificate, your academic achievements all count as hard skills. That also includes trade-school certifications, online courses you may have completed and even training programs at work.
Languages count as hard skills. If you’re multilingual, your additional languages could be the difference between landing a job and being told no thanks.
Not all technical knowledge comes from a classroom. If you can demonstrate your proficiency in a technical topic, you should certainly let prospective employers know about it.
And while other companies might not appreciate institutional knowledge as much as your current employer, the things you’ve learned about your company can be a difference-maker when applying internally to another job.
Computers are almost everywhere, yet job seekers all bring differing levels of proficiency in using them. So, where applicable, you’ll want to let employers know about your hard skills related to computers, whether that’s using Microsoft Office Suite, Google apps, data analysis tools, web development tools or email.
You can promote your marketing skills by examples of your work. But you can also demonstrate your proficiency in marketing by just telling your interviewers what you know about common marketing topics like Google Analytics, search engine optimization and search engine marketing.
If coding were easy, a lot more people would do it. Learning a programming language takes time. But like any other language, you don’t necessarily have to learn it in school. No matter how you learned it, coding is in high demand for a lot of industries.
Social media platforms
People all over the world use social media platforms every day. But most of them don’t know how to use these platforms to make money. If you know how to use them as marketing tools, then these skills can help you land a job.
Like other creative hard skills, there are roles for writers in just about every organization. Whether you’re applying to a writing job or a role that merely lists writing skills as desirable in the job description, you can provide your recruiter or hiring manager with examples of your work.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are essentially your people skills. And in most cases, these are transferable skills you can lean on for just about any job.
While hard skills are quantifiable competencies, soft skills are subjectively measured. Some employers may love your soft skills, while others may see a need for improvement.
It’s important to list soft skills on your resume, especially in job descriptions that list them as desirable. Certain in-demand soft skills include the following:
Sure, no one can measure how great of a leader you are, but you evidence your leadership by mentioning this soft skill in your cover letter and listing on your resume examples of times you took the lead at work or other organizations.
We all know when communication breaks down. But in an interview, you could promote your communications skills by referring to times you delivered valuable information at critical times at work.
Just like promoting your communications skills in an interview, you can score points with hiring managers and recruiters by telling about the times you collaborated with coworkers to crush goals together.
What do you do when there’s not a clear solution? That recruiter or hiring manager would love to hear how you used this soft skill to get things done (above board, of course).
Got great writing skills? Graphic design skills? Tell your interviewer about it and link samples of your work to your resume.
You could also reference your problem-solving and teamwork skills as examples of your creativity if you’ve had to think outside the box to get things done.
How to Highlight Your Relevant Skills in an Interview
During the interview process, hiring managers and recruiters will ask specific questions to learn more about your soft and hard skills. You’ve heard these questions before.
Here’s how to use some of them to underscore your most relevant skills.
Soft skills: What type of work environment do you thrive in?
This could be looked at as a question of your hard skills under pressure, but your interviewer probably wants to know whether you have the interpersonal skills to thrive when you have to work with other people.
Hard skills: What are your day-to-day responsibilities at your current job?
They want to know how often you used your hard skills. If you review the job description again ahead of your interviews, you’ll have a better chance of remembering to emphasize the particular hard skills they want.
Soft skills: How did you overcome a difficult situation at work?
You could emphasize your incredible hard skills, but your interviewers probably want to know how your soft skills have helped you win the day — your leadership, communication, teamwork or problem-solving.
Hard skills: What is your greatest strength?
This question could go either way, but your interviewers probably want to hear about your money-making hard skills. What hard skill will be of most use in the role you’re applying to do? Go with that one.
Soft and hard skills: Why do you want to work here?
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting a particular job at a given company. Whether your interviewers like you or not, your goal is to demonstrate value to them.
So having the opportunity to leverage your top hard skills is a great reason for wanting to work in a particular role.
Finding a Job Based on Your Skills
It’s more convenient than ever to search for job opportunities that suit your job skills. But you could still spend hours every day, rounding up relevant jobs — or, you can streamline the process with artificial intelligence
Once you get to know an artificial intelligence named Phil, the job search gets more efficient. ZipRecruiter designed Phil to analyze millions of data points in your job search – from your technical skills and career goals to job requirements and employer preferences.
Phil doesn’t just sort through jobs on ZipRecruiter’s job board. The AI also searches out relevant jobs for you on over 100 other job boards that have partnered with ZipRecruiter.
Once you sign up for a free ZipRecruiter account and complete your profile, you can start applying to relevant jobs with just a single click. There are millions of active jobs in their network, and Phil makes it easy to find the jobs that fit you best.