Introducation to Hard Skills vs Soft Skills
You very well understand that skill is an innate or acquired ability to perform a task with expertise. We do have different tasks to perform throughout our lives; since, we need to acquire different types of Hard Skills vs Soft Skills to meet our needs and requirements of the specific task.
Let us now check out what are the different types of Hard Skills vs Soft Skills through the story of Peter.
Once a huge merchant ship harbored on a port for trading. Once the trading was done and it was time for the ship to leave, it would just not start. Many expert engineers and other technicians tried to get it moving, but she stood there silently without making any noise. Even top technicians deployed on the port to help with ship maintenance failed to figure out the problem as to why the engine of the ship would not start.
Some local town people hired to load and unload the ships suggested to the captain that he should try the service of one of their local man, Peter, an old fisherman who also fixed fishing boats around the town. Desperate to get the ship moving, the captain ordered that Peter be brought abroad the ship at the earliest.
Peter walked in with some tools in his overall and went to the engine room and began to inspect the engine intently. As the captain watched losing all the hope of getting out the town anytime soon, Peter pulled a small hammer and tapped the engine thrice. Lo behold, the engine roared to life when started, dropping the captains jaw to the floor. He shook Peter’s rough hands saying, “I couldn’t thank you enough for what you have done”. Peter acknowledged the appreciation and then he pulled out a piece of paper and handed his roughly written bill to the captain which amounted to $6000.
Now that the ship was back to life, the desperation was gone from the captain. He hesitated to pay such a huge amount for a simple task of tapping an engine with a small hammer. Since, Peter had huge fan following in the town he could not offend him either by refusing to pay the bill.
He came up with a brilliant idea and asked Peter politely to break up the charges and provide him an itemized bill instead.
Without blinking for a second, Peter took back the scrap of bill, and added above $6000,
Tapping with hammer = $ 2.00
Knowing where to tap = $ 5998
Total = $ 6000
The skill that Peter had for repairing ship engines was hard skill, which is required for a job. Being confident and walking in to repair a ship which experts had failed to repair was his life skill. People in the town vouching, trusting and promoting him was his social skill. Using his creativity to itemize the bill was his soft skill. Thanks to Peter, now you must be having a clear idea about different skills and how they come handy in our lives.
Now let us move ahead and explore Hard Skills vs Soft Skills, determining how important they are for our career development.
The article on Hard Skills vs Soft Skills is structured as below –
- Hard Skills vs Soft Skills Infographics
- Which is important Hard Skills vs Soft Skills?
- Why we neglect soft skills?
- Careers And Skill Priorities
- What Employers look for?
- Conclusion – Hard skills vs Soft skills
Hard Skills vs Soft Skills Infographics
Below infographics on Hard Skills vs Soft Skills,throws light on major points of differences between the two skills.
What is Hard skills
Hard skills are required by you to perform specific tasks in your workplace or business. They are teachable skills which can be tangible and measured with tests, exams and interviews. For a person to acquire a hard skill, there are certain prerequisites that should be met by him/her. For example to be a surgeon, that particular individual should possess an above average IQ (Intelligence Quotient). Your hard skills are often centered on the logical or left side of your brain.
Few examples of hard skills are:
- Mathematics and Science skills
- Operating certain machines
What is Soft skills
Soft skills are psychological and emotional competences enabling a person to deal effectively with challenges in personal or professional life. Unlike hard skills, soft skills do not have prerequisites for you to acquire them and they are not job specific. They promote social, physical and mental wellbeing of a person. They are also referred to as life skills.
They are directly proportional to the strength of your EQ (Emotional Quotient) and is centered in the right side of your brain. Since they are interpersonal and people skills, though we can recognize a soft skill, it is not easy to measure it.
The top ten soft skills or life skills identified by WHO are
- Decision making
- Problem solving
- Creative thinking
- Critical thinking
- Effective communication
- Interpersonal relationship skills
- Coping with emotions
- Coping with stress
Which is important Hard Skills vs Soft Skills?
There is no competition between hard skills vs soft skills. They are both essential and play important roles in development of your career. You may set up an interview with an employer with the strength of hard skill, but your soft skills will play an important role in you being hired.
Again, your soft skills will play a huge part as you adapt to your new role, interact with colleagues and handle challenges cropping up in your working environment. Your hard skills will be required for you to perform the tasks assigned to you based on your job role efficiently. Your soft skills will see to it that you use your hard skills effectively for success.
Why we neglect soft skills?
Recently there is a lot of stress being laid on soft skills even in schools and colleges, apart from corporates or work places. The reason being, though candidates work hard to acquire hard skills for higher pay, they often tend to ignore their soft skills. Since there is no certificate for good communication skills or ability to cope with stress, we take such skills for granted.
Though hard skills remain the same in every company you work for, the soft skills requirement may change depending on the culture, nature and professional attitude of the people you work with. This again leads to neglecting soft skills, because most of the time you will not even know what is required for that specific situation.
Hard skills can be listed on resume and cover letter for a job application. This makes it very lucrative for candidates. Though they do mention soft skills in the CV, they know that they are subjective skills which makes it tough for the employer to quantify. Hence, they do not pay much attention to this skill set, without realizing that they will be evaluated during interview by the way they interact and relate to the interviewer.
Neglecting your soft skills will be one of the biggest career blunder you will be committing, since soft skills will help you to translate your hard skills, knowledge and abilities into actual talents. You will have an edge over others by knowing not just what to do, but also how to it and when to do it.
Careers And Skill Priorities
Even though we stress a lot today about the importance of soft skills, there is no doubt that there are specific careers where you may succeed with good hard skills, even if your soft skills were questionable. Physicists and Mathematicians are good example of this category. Many of the top scientists, including Albert Einstein lacked social and life skills, yet it did not affect their achievements. We will never know whether such scientists would have achieved more or less if they had soft skills and socialized quite often.
Michelangelo, Italian Renaissance Painter is also said to be very low on his soft skills, who rarely socialized ignoring his personal hygiene to a great extent. That, however did not stop him from being a great artists of all times.
Careers with Mathematics, Physics or mechanics may not require as much soft skills as they require your hard skills. In some situations, the presence of other people may even hinder the work; one of the reasons why some people like to work alone.
Even though teachers, lawyers or accountants need good hard skills, they cannot be successful in their careers without soft skills. Though they need to have thorough knowledge about the subject matter they handle, they will not make much progress without building good rapport with their clients. They need to have excellent communication, relationship and social skills for their success.
Careers that need high soft skills and just a little of hard skills are marketing and sales, business, PRO, front desk management and many more similar jobs. Even though the knowledge about the product is important, success in such careers is highly dependent on soft skills like communication, negotiation, persuasion, identifying potentials, cracking and closing deals.
The right time to learn
Stress is always laid on a child acquiring hard skills as early as possible, though the stress should be actually laid on soft skills in early stages of life. For example – even though it is easy for an adult individual to learn mathematics at any stage of life, it will not be as easy to change the way he or she communicates so easily.
Soft skills become a part of your personality which cannot be altered without difficulty. Soft skills when taught to children would help them acquire hard skills much more easily. They would also develop into individuals with more positive attitude, self-confidence, leadership quality, good team work, decision making ability and creativity which would further enhance their hard skill acquisition throughout life.
Acquiring soft skills will also promote mental well being of an individual, bringing down incidences of unwanted and unhealthy coping mechanisms like living in denial, substance abuse to manage stress or grief, violent behavior to name just a few.
With changing lifestyles, youngsters today are not sufficiently equipped with soft skills required to manage life. The cultural and traditional mechanisms that passed on soft skill in subtle ways to youngsters are now obsolete. Many schools around the world have adopted soft skills/ life skills program in their curriculum to deal with this social problem facing our generation.
What Employers look for?
Realizing the importance of soft skills, today more and more employers are looking for candidates with both the skill sets – hard skills vs soft skills for their companies. During the interview, they often observe how the applicant is dressed, how he/she walks in, shakes hand with the people present, introduces self, communicates and makes eye contact. All these will have a huge impact on the outcome of the interview.
The smart employers have come to realize that it is easy to teach simple hard skills to their employers like typing or computer programming, whereas it is either impossible or tough to teach soft skills.
People do not change overnight, and learning soft skill is making a complete personality make-over. It is never too late to learn. If you have ignored your soft skills so far, take initiative and start from today. Begin with decision making and goal setting, with the decision being that you will improve your soft skill and goal being which areas you are going to touch in a year.
As mentioned earlier, there is no competition between your hard skills vs soft skills; instead, they are crucial in determining your value to an employer. Just because soft skills are not tangible and measurable, do not make a list of skills from internet to add to your resume. You should learn to specifically identify your soft skills or lack of it to make progress.
Do not use vague words which do not mean anything. Like you believe in and specify your hard skills in a resume, do the same for your soft skills. If you mention that you have good command over a language, make sure you do. Your interviewer may check it out for you during the interview process. If found you have made false claims, the whole integrity of your resume will be lost.
Another challenge you will face is identifying your soft skill. You sure know what your hard skills are, but are you even aware of your soft skills? You may have to take some tests or conduct self- evaluation with feedback from friends and other people around you to know your strong and weak soft skills. Emphasize on your strong points while trying to improve over the weaker ones.
Make sure you create a good balance between your hard skills vs soft skills and use them to your advancement in career.