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Hard Skills Vs Soft Skills: What's The Difference?

Updated on Jun 24, 2022 15771 views
Hard Skills Vs Soft Skills: What's The Difference?

Companies, when putting out job postings, will usually list out key skills that are essential to the position being advertised and applicants are expected to possess these skills if they want to stand a chance of getting hired.

These could either be hard or soft skills and oftentimes a combination of both. Knowing what these skills are and how to use them in your resume will help you stand out from among the seas of applicants competing with you for the same job.

In today's article, we'll be looking at definitions and examples of hard skills and soft skills, their differences and how to use them in your CV to help you secure that dream job.

What Are Hard Skills?

Hard skills are also referred to as technical skills because they have to do with the training and knowledge that you have acquired either through your education or career.

For example, if you've worked as a teacher you must have learned how to prepare lesson notes and course outlines because it's a required skill every school teacher should possess. Also if you studied computer science, it is expected that you have coding skills.

For you to work in a particular industry, you need to have the right kind of technical skills that apply to that industry if you want to pass the interview and examination stage of the recruitment process and eventually get hired.

Some other examples of hard skills include:

  • Project management
  • Data analysis
  • Writing
  • Computer literacy
  • Bookkeeping
  • Typing
  • Analytics skill
  • SEO

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills refer to your habits and character, how it affects your work and how you interact with others at work. 

Soft skills are as important as hard skills for a successful career. While hard skills enable you to perform technical tasks and duties of a job, soft skills are necessary to create a functional and positive work environment.

We know that a positive work environment leads to more efficiency and productivity. This is why employers are constantly on the lookout for individuals with the right mix of hard and soft skills that are beneficial to the company's growth.

Effective communication, active listening, teamwork, and dependability are some key soft skills that most employers are after. A recent LinkedIn study shows that many employers would even prefer to pick a candidate with a stronger set of soft skills over hard skills because soft skills are difficult and take more time to develop.

However, even though adding soft skills to your resume can be huge leverage, not all soft skills are relevant for every role. Some soft skills are essential in certain roles and less important in others. For example, networking and negotiation skills are essential for marketing and sales roles but not relevant in medical-related careers.

Some other examples of soft skills include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Conflict resolution
  • Creativity
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Decision making

Difference Between Hard Skills and Soft Skills

There are three ways we can examine the differences between hard skills and soft skills. They are:

Mode of Acquisition and Development

People can acquire hard skills through formal training or education and on-the-job practice. While soft skills are developed through various personal and work experiences gathered over a long period of one's life. For example, HR managers can learn business management and administrative skills by attending a business school but may develop their leadership and collaboration skills from years of experience working with a volunteer group.


The second difference between hard skills and soft skills is how they are measured. When it comes to attaching these skills to your resume or mentioning them in interviews, hard skills can easily be described and measured using simple numerical or Yes/No criteria. Soft skills on the other hand are hard to quantify because they're intangible. They can only be described using qualitative terms.

Here's an example of  possible hard skills and soft skills of a web developer in a typical resume

  • An excellent user of JavaScript and CSS, having used its features daily for the past 2 years.
  • A great "team player" being able to work with other key persons on given projects.


Thirdly, hard skills and soft skills differ in how they are evaluated. You can evaluate and assess hard skills through the applicants' portfolio, résumé, role-specific interview questions and job-related assignments. Soft skills on the other hand are evaluated by using soft skills questions and tests, asking behavioural and situational interview questions, and taking into account a candidate's overall character and personality that is showcased during the hiring process.

Read more: How to write a professional CV. A Guide for 2022

Top 10 Hard Skills to Include in your CV

1 . Technical Skills

Technical skills are the ability of an individual to use different types of specialised software and equipment. They are typically required in science, IT and engineering fields.

Some examples are:

  • Web- HTML, JavaScript, CSS
  • Troubleshooting
  • Prototyping
  • Multivariate analysis
  • STEM skills
  • CAD
  • CRM platforms
  • Lean manufacturing
  • Workflow development
  • Payment processing
  • Linear regression
  • Automated billing systems
  • Research

2 .  Analytical Skills

Analytical skills have to do with gathering, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.  Every job deals with some amount of data. If you can prove to the recruiter that you're fairly decent at data analysis, you'll score yourself some extra points.

Some analytical skills you can put on your resume are:

  • Data mining
  • Data presentation
  • Data engineering
  • Database management
  • Resource management
  • Research
  • Theorising
  • Data and metrics interpreting
  • Forecasting
  • Reporting
  • Creativity
  • Diagnostics

3 .  Computer Skills

Computer skills refer to the ability to use both software and hardware of digital devices. Your knowledge of this could vary from basic and general to highly specialised. Computer skills are very important in today's world and it's a must-have for every job seeker irrespective of the industry but most especially for office jobs.

Some examples of basic computer skills include:

  • Microsoft Office- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote, Outlook
  • Spreadsheet
  • Google drive
  • Slideshow
  • Emails
  • QuickBooks
  • Social media
  • Graphics
  • Database management
  • Typing
  • Enterprise systems

4 .  Project Management Skills

Project management skills include general knowledge in management as well as proficiency in certain frameworks and software.

Project management skills ensure that things get done on time and within the allocated budget. If you're applying for a managerial position, where you have to coordinate a lot of people and processes, having this skill is a plus.

Here are some examples of project management hard skills;

  • Project lifecycle planning
  • Project scheduling
  • Strategic planning
  • Forecasting
  • Scrum management
  • Performance tracking
  • Financial modelling
  • Agile software
  • Kanban
  • Budgeting

5 .  Management Skills

Management skills are needed in business and office-related careers. Some job-specific hard skills you'll need are:

  • Budgeting
  • Project management
  • Office management skills
  • New business development
  • Logistics
  • Finance
  • Planning
  • Hiring

6 .  Marketing Skills

Marketing skills include the general knowledge of advertising, consumer research and sales plus highly technical and digital skills which are essential for success in modern-day online marketing. Marketing skills are of great value to job seekers or employees working in advertising, e-commerce, media, project management and social media.

Examples of marketing skills In demand include:

  • Social media marketing and paid social media advertising
  • SEO/SEM: SEMRush, Ahrefs, Majestic, SEO Power Suite
  • CRO A/B testing
  • PPC
  • Email marketing and automation
  • Funnel management
  • Google Analytics and Google Search
  • Writing and content creation
  • AdWords, Facebook paid Ads
  • HubSpot, ONTRAPORT, Aritic PinPoint, Infusionsoft
  • Data Visualization
  • UX Design

7 .  Presentation Skills

I know you're thinking, isn't this supposed to be a soft skill, well not entirely sure but if you want to deliver a good report or presentation you'll need a few of these hard skills.

  • Research
  • Reporting
  • Slideshows
  • Visual communication
  • Data analysis
  • Graphic design

8 .  Writing Skills

If your job requires some form of writing, having a good knowledge of writing techniques will give your career a boost.  Some examples of writing skills include:

  • Email writing
  • Letter writing
  • Note-taking
  • Writing business reports, press releases, content management
  • Creative writing
  • Storytelling
  • Academic writing
  • Proposal writing
  • Copywriting
  • Presentation writing
  • Journalism
  • Editing
  • SEO
  • Social media

9 .  Design Skills

Graphics design and illustration skills are hot in demand in today's job markets. The ability to create visual materials makes you a great asset in all workplaces.

Some examples of design skills include:

  • Corel draw
  • UX/UI design
  • UX research
  • Photoshop
  • InDesign
  • Illustrator
  • Freehand
  • Sketching
  • Data visualization
  • Print design
  • Typography

10 . Language Skills

If you're looking for a job in a company, that deals with international stakeholders and customers, knowing more than one language can give you an edge over the competition.

You can add them to your resume by first creating a section for languages and listing all the foreign languages you know and your proficiency level.

Before you add any of your skills to your CV, the first thing you should do is go through the job description and identify keywords that are related to the skills you have. Then create a list of your skills making sure to highlight your strengths and match them with the necessary keywords.

Where to put them

  • For your most relevant skills, create a separate skills section and them there. This way, they stand out more and are easier to spot
  • Highlight your professional hard skills in the employment history section of your CV and give real examples of duties and achievements that illustrate your skills
  • For a professional profile on a résumé, mention two or three key skills relevant to the job in the summary statement i.e the paragraph at the top

Top 10 Soft Skills to include in your CV

1 . Time Management Skills

Employees who can get things done with time and under uncomfortable situations are of great value to an organisation. Your ability to manage your time wisely and to work efficiently will make you stand out from the crowd. Other skills related to time management are:

  • Stress management
  • Planning
  • Organising
  • Goal setting
  • Prioritizing

2 . Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills refer to how well you interact with people around you. Such skills include:

  • Empathy
  • Networking
  • Diplomacy
  • Tolerance
  • Humour

3 . Communication Skills

Communication skills refer to your ability to express ideas and emotions. The most common communication skills include:

  • Written and oral communication
  • Presentation
  • Active listening
  • Constructive feedback

4 . Teamwork

The ability to work effectively together with others in a group to accomplish tasks or projects is called teamwork. Examples of teamwork-related skills are:

  • Collaboration
  • Coordination
  • Conflict management and resolution
  • Mediation
  • Idea exchange

5 . Adaptability

Adaptability skills show how well you can adjust to sudden changes in your workplace. The work environment is constantly changing, you will have new team members, and new supervisors, you may be transferred to a new branch in another state or the company might sell off and change ownership. So you need to learn how to anticipate and adapt to these changes.

Skills related to adaptability include:

  • Self-management and self-motivation
  • Analysis
  • Optimism
  • Calmness

6 . Work Ethic

The conscious and constant effort you put in to get the job done is what we refer to as work ethic. Employees with great work ethics are highly valued by companies because they bring results. Skills related to work ethic are:

  • Dependability
  • Responsibility
  • Professionalism
  • Discipline
  • Commitment

7 . Attention to detail

Having this skill means providing thorough and accurate results. Paying attention to little details that could potentially cause harm is a great skill that all employers look for in their employees. Some other skills related to this are:

  • Critical thinking
  • Observation
  • Introspection
  • Questioning
  • Scheduling

8 . Leadership Skills

Leadership skills refer to your ability to lead, mentor, train or guide. Companies prefer to hire employees with leadership skills because they show more initiative.

Other skills related to leadership include:

  • Management skills
  • Cultural intelligence
  • Generosity
  • Authenticity
  • Mentorship

9. Creativity

It's easy to limit creativity skills to just arts and design, but every job needs individuals who can think outside the box. Here are some examples of creative skills:

  • Imagination
  • Innovation
  • Mind mapping
  • Questioning
  • Experimentation

10. Problem-solving

You'll be faced with challenges and job-related problems at your workplace. Your ability to critically analyse and come up with solutions will always come in handy.

Skills associated with problem-solving include:

  • Observation
  • Logical reasoning
  • Brainstorming
  • Analysis
  • Decision making

Where to put soft skills on your CV

  • You can start by adding key one or two key soft skills relevant to the job position, in the experience section
  • Make a separate 'living list' of your skills. State them and give practical examples of your achievements and duties
  • Introduce one or two key skills in the resume headline or summary. Make sure to keep it short and precise.


The main difference between soft skills and hard skills is that soft skills are needed to foster great work relationships and a better working environment while hard skills are necessary to get the job done. Both of them are essential to the growth of a company, so it's best to have the right mix of hard and soft skills tailored to the job you applying for.

Want to make your cv standout? Get a professional cv today.

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

6 Comment(s)

  • Ganiyu Fatai
    Ganiyu Fatai Jun 23, 2022

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  • Raphael Williams
    Raphael Williams Jul 21, 2022

    Learnt a lot from this writing. Thank you.

    AMARACHI SUNDAY Feb 25, 2023

    Thank you

  • Ime Etcheri
    Ime Etcheri Jul 24, 2023

    Am interested 

  • Ime Etcheri
    Ime Etcheri Jul 24, 2023

    Am interested 

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