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Hard vs. Soft Skills: Why Are They Important for Your Growth?

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • November 29, 2021

business soft skills trainingWhen hiring the right candidates for certain open positions in their organizations, employers consider many different attributes on your resume. Soft vs. hard skills are the two most important attributes they examine during the hiring process.

Soft skills encompass specific interpersonal skills and personality traits that are universally applicable to virtually every job in existence. Hard skills refer to practical or technical skills that pertain to particular jobs.

While it’s undoubtedly a good thing to have broad experience in a given field, especially when it comes to getting your dream job, sometimes, only bringing the right hard skills to the table isn’t enough. You have to have the interpersonal, communication, leadership, and even social skills to back that up. And that’s exactly what soft skills are.

What’s the Difference between Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills?

Soft skills are certain interpersonal traits that can be transferrable into your job performance. These include:

Hard skills, on the other hand, are specific practical skills you have developed over time through work experience that make you technically fit for a particular job in a specific field. These include:

  • Degree or certificate
  • Industry-specific certification
  • Computer skills
  • Typing speed
  • Bookkeeping
  • Digital and print marketing
  • Coding
  • Foreign language competency
  • Proofreading

Soft and hard skills are certainly positive attributes for any prospective employee, but it’s not enough to have one or the other. You have to have a good mix of transferrable soft and hard skills to impress prospective employers.

Soft skills are a lot more transferrable and relatable than hard skills because they apply to pretty much any work situation. Hard skills, on the other hand, often require more technical training to obtain. In some cases, however, you can be self-taught—for instance, if you speak multiple languages or decide to learn a new skill on your own. Even if you teach yourself a skill like coding, though, your current or prospective employer may still require you to obtain official certification for certain hard skills.

Soft skills are just inherently a part of your work persona. Fortunately, soft and hard skills can easily be conveyed on job applications, resumes, and cover letters. Simply communicate all of your strong points to prospective employers in written form and make sure your professionalism shines through during the interviewing process so that they can witness it for themselves.

Why Every Business Should Encourage Soft and Hard Skill Development in Employees?

As harsh as this might sound, every employee is only as valuable as the soft and hard skills that they bring to the table. Suppose you have an employee that excels at the practical or technical aspects of their job, but their demeanour makes their coworkers and your clients uncomfortable. In that case, this doesn’t present a very positive image for your business. Furthermore, it can make for a very toxic and unhappy work environment for everyone involved.

Cultivating a positive and productive work culture should be top of mind for every business leader and manager. Employees who have a good mix of soft and hard skills are more likely to succeed in their chosen fields. Not only are they capable of demonstrating their professional skills, but they also can work well with others. The former helps them gain the necessary skills for a job and the latter aids in networking and building solid connections with other like-minded individuals who can help them succeed.

When employees can work together to achieve a common professional goal or objective, it creates perfect harmony in the workplace and boosts morale, productivity, and efficiency.

Useful Tips for Improving Employee Skill Development

Not everyone is automatically born with the same set of professional or marketable skills. Soft and hard skills are learned over time in both your personal and professional life. How well soft and hard skills are cultivated or nurtured makes a big difference in your skill development and professional applications. Follow these tips to help your employees enhance their soft and hard skill development on the job.

Practice Makes Perfect

It takes all types of talent and personality types to make the world go round. But if there’s a specific type of soft or hard skill that you want to improve upon for your professional growth, then the best thing to do is to practice as much as possible. Public speaking is a lot like learning to play a musical instrument. For some people, it comes naturally. Others have to work hard at it. Eventually, the more time and effort you put into perfecting a new skill, the better you’ll become at it. That drive and tenacity in your personal life are transferrable into your professional life too.

Get Help from Professionals

Professional mentorship and training are a great way to get ahead in your industry and learn a new skill. Let someone you admire take you under their wing and show you the ropes so that you can eventually add your creative spin. Improving your hard and soft skills is a constant work in progress, so you should always keep an open mind and take constructive feedback from those with more experience.

Improve Your Education

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working in a specific field or job. There’s always room for improvement and growth. Information changes over time, which means you have to keep up with the times if you want to remain relevant and valuable to your company. Some employers offer continuing education programs for employees to update their soft and hard skill sets. Take advantage of these opportunities as much as you can.

Encourage Team Collaboration at Work

Learning to play well with others is a basic rule that’s taught in kindergarten. It also happens to be extremely important in collaborative workplaces. Harnessing good collaboration skills creates a cohesive and successful work environment.

Join Virtual Soft Skills Workshops and Training Services

Virtual/Online soft skills workshops and training services such as those offered by The Soft Skills Group pinpoint specific areas in your work culture and employee skills development that need improvement. You and your team will be given the appropriate professional tools and resources to make necessary changes and set you up for greater future success. Contact us to set up a soft skills training session for your employees.

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More