Hard skills are foundational requirements for every job, whether blue-collar or white-collar. It is the first thing that employers look for in CVs when applying for a job, but do you know what they are? This article explains in detail all you need to know.
For whatever career option you opt for, you need to acquire hard skills to get a job along that line. For instance, to get an engineering job, you need to be skilled in engineering.
A good understanding of the hard skills to possess for your desired career option will help you know what type of course to study, what training to acquire or what certifications you need.
Learn what hard skills are, how to acquire them, examples, and their importance in this article.
What Do Hard Skills Mean?
These are the technical skills you need to perform a specific job or task. They are skills that involve an individual’s intellectual abilities and the use of software or equipment on a task or job.
This is to say that every job has peculiar functions that can only be carried out by an individual who possesses the hard skills for it. They are acquired through formal training in academic institutions or informal training like vocational training and online courses. On-the-job training also enhances them.
Furthermore, they are measurable. Employers measure them through years of experience, qualifications, or through practical or theoretical assessments.
Even though they are essential requirements for a job, they are not enough to land you an ideal job; therefore, you also need soft skills.
That said, let us consider the difference between hard and soft skills.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
You need both to make you employable and attractive to prospective employers. However, they differ from each other.
1. Education and training
You can gain hard skills from education and training. For instance, enrolling in a university where you learn the principle and practical aspects of accounting and other related financial topics gives you the hard skills you need to function as a financial accountant in any organization.
Soft skills are quite different from hard skills. They are not taught in schools as a course of study. They are not acquired directly from training, although they may be the focus of a training. Instead, they are personality traits built consciously or unconsciously over time through interaction with the environment and proactive self-development.
Hard skills are the technical aspect of your routine, so they are measurable. They are measured through an individual’s years of experience, degree level, or certifications.
In contrast, soft skills are neither measurable nor quantifiable. Nevertheless, employers can evaluate them through aptitude tests and by asking relevant questions at the interview stage.
Hard skills are specific to a job or task. For instance, catering requires an individual skilled in cooking or baking. Also, an engineer cannot do a doctor’s job because he cannot perform surgery or administer drugs to a patient.
On the other hand, soft skills are transferable skills that cut across different job types, whether related or unrelated. For instance, a chiropractor and a banker need good communication skills for effective interaction with colleagues, superiors, and customers.
Finally, it is important to note that hard and soft skills go hand in hand. You cannot neglect either of them. While you are building your hard skills, develop handy soft skills that would make your experience and training more productive in your workplace.
Examples of soft skills include;
- Time management
SEE: What Are Soft Skills
Examples Of Hard Skills
1. Engineering skills
These are skills in IT, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, architecture, and all sorts of scientific fields that involve the use of specialized software and equipment.
For instance, mechanical engineers, architects, and civil engineers should be skilled in the use of Auto-cad to plan high-scale projects and build virtual prototypes.
To become skilled in engineering, you need to enroll in a university to study an engineering course in any field you desire. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Oxford, and Stanford University are top-rated Universities for engineering courses.
Furthermore, apprenticeships, internship opportunities, fieldwork, and workshops help you gain the practical engineering skills most organizations demand.
SEE: STEM Learning
2. Computer skills
This is one of the most important hard skills. It is the use of computer systems to perform basic or high-level functions.
From the basic knowledge of typing on MS word, or the use of PowerPoint for presentation, to the expert use of Spreadsheets, graphic design with tools like Photoshop to high-level programming prowess like websites and software development, the list is endless.
Generally, most office roles require you to be knowledgeable about the use of computers. Other specialized positions like software development require an individual who can code to develop an app.
You may gain computer competency through free and paid online courses. You can gain computer mastery online if you are passionate and goal-driven.
Lastly, a degree in computer science from a college or university is an advantage when applying for computer-related jobs.
3. Analytical skills
Individuals who are experts in data analysis are highly in-demand today. Many organizations need those who can scout for data, analyze and interpret them for crucial decision making.
Also, many jobs require individuals who possess a reasonable amount of analytical deftness. Forecasting, data management, data mining, resource management are all analytical abilities
In addition, a degree in data analysis from the university, physical or online training are ways to garner analytical competency. Badging a professional certificate can further help you prove your proficiency as a data analyst.
4. Marketing Ability
Marketing involves knowledge in consumer psychology, negotiation, consumer relationship, sales, and closing.
Other specialized marketing competencies include search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, digital marketing, etc.
Many online platforms offer courses in marketing. Also, YouTube is a great place to gain knowledge in them.
However, a degree in marketing or any marketing-related field gives you an advantage for marketing jobs in organizations.
5. Management skills
These include professional knowledge in business administration, budgeting, planning, human resource management, project management, etc.
Project management, for instance, involves step by step guide to undertaking a project and ensuring that the workflow is orderly, timely, and void of error. Also, human resource management involves hiring, remuneration, management, and training of employees.
The management roles are top in organizations, as such, always require solid training off and on-the-job and substantial years of experience. Therefore, you need a degree to prove proficient in these jobs. A master’s degree, doctorate, or professional certificate further demonstrates a greater level of knowledge and expertise.
6. Writing skills
Writing is an essential part of communication; however, it doesn’t stop there. Some job roles require highly-skilled writers. Writing can also be developed through regular training and practice.
Asides from the regular office functions of report writing, some jobs like content writing, journalism, copywriting, SEO, creative writing require trained individuals in the field.
Journalism, for instance, is a specialized profession that requires you to study courses like mass communication, English language, or media communication in the university. However, you can develop content writing, SEO, and copywriting expertise through online courses.
7. Language skills
Being multilingual can give you a heads up over other candidates for customer service roles, human resource managers, or any role in multinational firms at that. Also, it’s a skill specifically for those who want to become translators.
Sign language is also a field of language that is underrated. Hospitals, mental health clinics, social service agencies are places you can work as a sign language instructor.
You may take advantage of online platforms to learn new languages or study linguistics as a college course.
8. Design skills
Those with design skills are hot cakes in the job market today. The list of design skills is numerous, from product design, graphic design, software applications design to system design.
For instance, a product designer identifies problems and designs products as solutions. They are usually involved in the entire product creation process.
Lastly, you can take online courses to become proficient in design.
Why Are Hard Skills Important?
They are important in the following ways:
1. Proof of your capabilities
Hard skills are proof of what you can do. Listing social media management as one of your expertise in a CV means that you can manage an organization’s social media pages and help them achieve whatever goals they have.
2. Basic requirements for every job
Hard skills are always part of a job description. Therefore to get a job or be considered for an interview, you need to articulate them in your CV.
3. Improves productivity
Organizations need those with hard skills for a job to be productive. Better still, they prefer to employ individuals who demonstrate a high level of expertise to increase productivity.
That is to say, organizations do not regard individuals who lack the hard skills for a job. As such, applying for a job for which you lack the capabilities may be a waste of time.
How To Highlight Your Hard Skills On CVs
The first item that depicts your technical abilities is your degree. A bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree, shows your knowledge level on a job and translates to the level of expertise you can display in a job role.
2. Relevant Certifications
One of the best ways to highlight your hard skills on a CV is to list the certificate you’ve possessed from professional, free, or paid online courses. However, relevant professional certificates are more reliable and recognized; free and paid online courses certificates show employers that you have acquired the skill a job needs.
Highlighting an undergraduate or graduate internship you’ve undertaken is a great way to prove your hard skills. However, you should not merely list the organization you interned. Instead, you should carefully highlight your achievements and impact during the internship.
4. Years of experience
The years of experience you have gotten while working in a job role are highly relevant in demonstrating your expertise. In fact, many jobs adverts specifically state the required years of experience that applicants should have. It is important to note that instead of merely listing your years of experience on your CV, you should highlight your accomplishments on the job as this proves your proficiency and competency level.
Apprenticeship, on-the-job training, conferences, and workshops help hone your hard skills. Therefore, they are an excellent way to prove your capabilities. You may state them in your CV alongside what you learned from the training.
Are hard skills compulsory to have?
Yes. They are compulsory for everyone who wants to get a job.
How can you get hard skills?
They can be gotten through formal training in schools, online courses, workshop training, and on-the-job training.
When should you develop hard skills?
They should be developed from childhood. You may begin to learn coding, data analysis, foreign language, among others.
Hard skills are paramount for everyone to possess. They are essentials for whatever job or career you wish to do.
Therefore, it is crucial to build them by immersing yourself in learning through whatever means you can. Furthermore, keep improving them as your proficiency level determines your value to organizations.
In addition, you need hard and soft skills to satisfy the requirements of a job. As such, you should cultivate both equally.
Lastly, read the article on Skills That Can Change Your Life Forever to learn more about what other important skills you need.