Most of the time, employers are looking for individuals who can show they’ve used specific skills and abilities at a past job to complete tasks.
You might think years of experience or a solid certificate is what matters, but it’s often a person’s abilities that land them a good position in a company.
These quantifiable competencies are called hard skills—and they’re essential when researching the background of any candidate because it shows who’s good at a job and who’s not.
With that in mind, let’s explore the meaning of these hard skills and why businesses should pay attention to them.
What Are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are knowledge and abilities needed for job-specific duties and responsibilities.
Often contrasted with soft skills—which we’ll talk about later—hard skills mean knowing how to use specific software, tools, and platforms to handle a job.
For instance, a copywriter should be able to use WordPress to post articles or be familiar with SEO applications to write content optimized for search, while a science teacher needs to possess the teaching methods and be able to undertake research.
While technical skills are the most in-demand skills employers look for in candidates, there are other examples of hard skills, such as:
- Analytical skills
- Communication skills, like foreign languages
- Management skills
- Programming language skills
- Writing skills
Someone can develop skill sets through vocational training, online courses, and during the job while using the available equipment, software, or tools.
But are hard skills necessary?
Well, take a look at the next section to discover why many business professionals prioritize hard skills.
Why Are Hard Skills Important?
Hard skills are necessary because they aid your recruiting efforts.
Since attracting and retaining employees is a challenge for most HR teams, hiring managers should pay close attention to the skills that indicate if potential candidates have sufficient experience and knowledge for the role.
For example, if you’re looking for a graphic designer, you can check their work experience and their competency with Photoshop.
Moreover, hard skills enable better individual job performance and business-wide innovation that helps employees learn new skills or strengthen old abilities.
This continuous learning process makes people more confident in their roles and keeps them engaged with their work.
As a result, when your staff feels like you’ve invested in their development, their overall job satisfaction will grow, and they’ll feel more motivated to work harder and succeed.
Now that you’ve learned why hard skills are so necessary, it’s time to move on and discuss what we promised earlier: the difference between soft and hard skills.
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Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
The main difference between hard and soft skills is how you put them to use in your company.
Hard skills are abilities and knowledge acquired through training that employees need to perform their duties effectively, proven through qualifications, certifications, or portfolios.
Soft skills are interpersonal skills that involve personality traits or emotional intelligence that help employees thrive in a work environment.
They’re innate characteristics people are born with and require more effort to change.
Some examples of soft skills include:
- Work ethic
- Empathy and creativity
- Stress management
- Teamwork and communication
- Time management
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Adaptability and resourcefulness
In a nutshell, hard skills help you identify people who are good and have the know-how you need from their cover letters, while soft skills impact their performance in the workplace.
Another difference is that hard skills remain the same regardless of business, while soft skills can change depending on the company culture and work expectations.
Finally, it’s more challenging to identify hard skills than soft skills, and businesses might need specialized technology to assess soft skills for each employee.
So, now you know the difference between hard and soft skills.
Moving forward, let’s talk about the different types of hard skills and those that are most important.
Types of Hard Skills
In this section, we’ll discuss the essential types of hard skills that can help elevate your business.
Data changes the way we conduct business. It helps us optimize the quality of work, predict trends, and make better decisions.
However, companies need to understand HOW to use this data first and foremost.
That’s why gathering and analyzing data should be a core function of any business.
Regarding analytical skills, it’s essential to accurately understand and draw valuable insights from data, as it helps businesses prevent risks and drive profits.
The hard skills section of any analyst should include the following:
- Database management
- Structured Query Language (SQL)
With the rise of HR tech shaping how we work, it’s no surprise that so many companies look for employees with technical skills.
Generally, technical skills involve specialized knowledge and expertise in industries like healthcare, engineering, or IT, to mention a few, and include the ability to use particular software or equipment.
Of course, there are some technical skills that all employees need regardless of the field of work.
For instance, Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet creation and data analysis standard many businesses continue to rely on today.
Potential employers should check a candidate’s resume for the following technical skills:
- Lean manufacturing
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Computer programming
- Cloud computing
Author’s Tip: If you have tech-loving employees, why not invest in high-quality tech swag to impress them?
According to a report, the global digital advertising and marketing industry will reach $786.2 billion by 2026.
Usually, marketing skills involve using applications and platforms that help create and keep tabs on various marketing campaigns.
Here are some marketing skills examples:
- Social media marketing (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
- Google Analytics
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Content management
- Email marketing
Computer skills are the ability to use a computer efficiently.
Since we highly depend on technology to work remotely, computer skills are vital to any modern workplace. They include everything from basic computer literacy to being able to code.
When looking at a candidate’s job application, you should search for the following:
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Google Workspace
- Zoom and other video conferencing tools
- Web browsers
- Adobe PDF reader
Business and management skills
Last on our list are business and management skills, abilities you need to run a company smoothly.
Hard skills involve using specialized platforms like QuickBooks to ensure your business processes work correctly and help you reach new heights through teamwork.
The skills you should look for include:
- Payroll Programs
- Project management
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Now Over to You
Technological progress demands continuous improvement in training programs and providing employees with the necessary tools to learn and strengthen specific abilities.
Hard skills are vital to any business that wants to get the job done because they help you get the best candidates.
And while you should improve this aspect, other business functions need your attention.
To discover them, take a look inside our handy HR glossary!