Understanding Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills for Your Resume

Hard skills and soft skills are both important for job success. What do you need to know about featuring both of these types of skills in your resume?

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Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Skills are one of the prime ingredients for any resume. When it comes to listing your skills, you need to consider both “hard skills” and “soft skills.” These are the skill sets that you need to succeed in most jobs, and they’re skill types that recruiters will look for in your resume and cover letter. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between hard skills and soft skills, as well as how to list them on your resume.


What’s the Difference Between Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

Hard skills and soft skills are the different types of skills required for a specific field and the skills that you use relating to your job role. Hard skills are technical skills that you learn for a specific job field. If you want to go into project management, for example, you’re going to need to learn to master certain learned skills such as becoming proficient in specific software. If you need a degree for your field, you’re mostly going to be learning hard skills in school. Soft skills, on the other hand, are people skills that you need to communicate with clients and coworkers, as well as the personal traits that describe how you approach your work on a daily basis (e.g., strong work ethic, collaboration). For the most part, these are social skills, and they can be skills that are difficult to teach. You may learn these skills in work environments and they’ll typically be skills that employers are looking for in a wide range of jobs.

Hard Skills: Examples

When you’re building your skills list, you’ll often need to start with hard skills. These are skills that you’ve built over the years of working or learning in your field. Here are some examples of hard skills that you may want to list on your resume:

  • Certifications (e.g., project management, specific software)
  • Budgeting
  • Skills in programming languages (Java, Python, etc.)
  • Data analysis
  • SEO
  • Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc.)
  • Proficiency in foreign languages

A hiring manager is looking for these skills so they can be sure you know how to perform your job.


Soft Skills: Examples

Soft skills have more to do with teamwork and effective communication than they do with how much knowledge you have of a specific field. Some examples of soft skills you might want to put in your resume include:

  • Verbal and written communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • People skills
  • Time management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Problem-solving
  • Work ethic
  • Management
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Dependability

How To Combine Hard and Soft Skills on Your Resume

Depending on which job field you’re entering, your skills section may require specific hard skills, but no matter how many hard skills you enter, you should balance out your resume with soft skills.

One great tip is to make sure that you’re showcasing at least one hard skill and one soft skill in every section of your resume. That means including a soft skill and a hard skill in your resume objective and in each job description in your work history section. From there, you can also expand to include more hard or soft skills, depending on the ratio you typically see in other resumes. Check resume examples from your field to see how many hard skills and soft skills other job seekers are showcasing on average.


FAQ: Hard Skills and Soft Skills

Q: Which is more important: hard skills or soft skills?

Hard skills and soft skills are equally important for jobs so it’s good to have both. Your employer wants you to be a team player no matter where you’re working, but your particular set of skills for the job is also important. Even jobs that heavily rely on hard skills can benefit from soft skills. Someone working as a surgeon, for example, will need lots of hard skills, but they’ll need some soft skills so they can talk to their patients. Someone working as a customer service representative will need lots of soft skills to deal with others, but will also need hard skills to complete regular tasks. When in doubt, review our resume examples and check for keywords from the job description that indicate which hard and soft skills are most important to feature in your resume.

Q: How do I prove my hard and soft skills?

The best way to prove your skills is by showing how you’ve used them in the past. When writing about your skill in your work history, use the STAR method to describe a Situation, Task, Action, and Result, all revolving around how you used a skill to solve problems or earn recognition. For hard skills, you can also use tests and certifications to show that you’re talented in these areas. LinkedIn even has some pretest and certification options that you can use to showcase your skills in certain areas.

Q: Which hard and soft skills are most important?

When it comes to the importance of hard and soft skills, this has to do entirely with the job that you’re applying to. When you write your resume, look at the job description to see which hard and soft skills the hiring manager is looking for. The most important skills are always the ones that the interviewer will be asking you about, and you can determine those by looking at the job description.

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