In the world today, there are certain skills that are looked upon more favorable and will provide you with a stronger foundation for achieving and maintaining success. These types of skills will either be considered hard or soft skills and can be adapted across almost any career path. They can also be applied in your personal life as well.
So, what exactly are hard skills vs. soft skills, and which ones do you need to be successful?
Hard skills are those skills that require specific knowledge and are usually accompanied by a degree or certificate, but not always.
Depending upon your current job, the type of job you are applying for, or the business you are starting on your own, the hard skills that will lead to success may differ. However, there are a few hard skills that transfer across industries and will help you be successful in any endeavor.
Computer Technology Skills
These days we all have at least basic level computer skills. However, during these high-tech times, which are only becoming more and more technologically advanced, you will need to continually upgrade your skills to keep pace and to be successful. A few skills often looked for by employers and ones you may want to learn or brush up on include:
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Social media
- Digital Marketing
Although Project Management is its own profession, you will benefit from knowing how to manage your own projects, large or small. Familiarize yourself with project management methodologies and project management software. There are online courses and certifications in project management, which can help you build this hard skill.
Mathematics and Numeracy Skills
It’s easier than ever these days to calculate amounts on our phones, our laptops, and our tablets. But having a core knowledge of at least basic mathematical skills will help you be successful in numerous areas.
Numeracy skills, although basic math skills, include analytical thinking as well. A few examples of numeracy skills that will help you be successful in both your personal and professional life include:
- Calculation skills
- Scheduling or budgeting
- Interpreting mathematical information
- Visual perception of information
- Understanding trends
Industries that require some level of mathematical and numeracy skill proficiency include:
Soft skills are harder to identify and define than hard skills. These are those interpersonal skills and traits that are revealed in how you interact with other people. Soft skills can come naturally to you, or you can develop them. Ones you will need to be successful include:
It should come as no surprise that communication skills top the list of soft skills needed to be successful. This skill actually includes several types of communications:
- Verbal communication: clear and concise speaking ability
- Nonverbal communication: facial expressions and body language
- Aural communication: listening ability
- Written communication: composing of effective reports, emails, and various other types of documentation
- Visual communication: presenting by way of pictures and other visual aids, such as infographics
Problem-solving is a soft skill you use every day in your personal and professional life. The more efficient you become at it, the more successful you will be in all areas of life. Problem-solving abilities include using your knowledge to identify answers to problems and to formulate solutions.
Leadership skills translate to more than just those from the top down. It’s about cultivating relationships, respect, and confidence across all organizational levels. Leaders, for example, are expected to have skills in the following:
Interpersonal skills are a broad category which encompasses many types of interaction, including:
- Relationship building and maintenance
- Rapport building
- Giving and receiving constructive criticism
- Being Open and tolerant to the ideas and opinions of others
Flexibility and Adaptability
With technology, trade, economy, environment, and politics changing rapidly these days, it’s imperative we all become flexible and learn to adapt to constant change. Often you will need to shift where you are and change to a new direction with short notice. You need to have the skills and mindset to do so in order to be successful.
Take the time to identify which of these skills, both hard and soft, you are the weakest in and find ways to increase your skill level. Take a class, earn a certificate, join a group such as Toastmasters, or gain experience in an area by volunteering in some capacity. Combining both essential hard and soft skills will lead to quicker and more satisfying success going forward.