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What Are Hard Skills? Definition, Examples & Best Practices When Listing

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Do you want to increase your chances of getting a job?

With hundreds, possibly thousands, of people applying to any job opening, everyone wants to find ways to stand out from the rest.

The stiff competition and cutthroat screening using ATS can make it seem impossible to land an interview.

But the good news is there is a way to get your foot through the door. Highlighting your hard skills is one of the best ways to prove you are the right person for the job.

What Are Hard Skills?

Hard skills are the specific, quantifiable, and objective skills required to perform a job well. We gain hard skills through schooling, apprenticeships, and work experience.

Hard skills are taught and learned and have strict performance measures. For this reason, it is easy to prove hard skills.

How Are Hard Skills Different From Soft Skills?

Hard skills are the opposite of soft skills. They are distinct technical proficiencies and skills required to perform any job well. Hard skills differ from job to job and can be clearly defined and measured.

On the other hand, soft skills are personal qualities that impact how a person relates to coworkers, managers, and clients.

Some jobs require more soft vs. hard skills because they are people-facing. Other jobs are more technical and rely more on hard skills.

You can gain hard skills through training or experience and improve them with further training or taking on more responsibilities.

Soft skills are often innate and relate to who we are as people but can be sharpened and improved through time and practice.

Soft and Hard Skills Examples

To help you understand the difference between soft and hard skills, we’ve listed examples below.

What Is a Hard Skill Example?

An example of a hard skill is computer programming. It is a skill that involves writing code using computer languages to inform software, application, or computer programs how to perform.

Computer programming involves other skills such as algorithm generation and implementation and analysis.

Soft Skills Examples

Here are some popular soft skills.

  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Adaptability
  • Organization
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership

What Is the Most Important Hard Skill?

The most important hard skill is the one necessary to perform a job. It will differ from job to job and sometimes company to company.

For example, a software engineering role in one company could require experience building applications with Java and Ruby.

A different company could require experience with Python and PHP. Let’s look at the most important hard skills for various positions below.

Hard Skills for Students

As a student, the hard skills you should list in your resume usually depend on what course you are studying and your previous experience.

For example, a person who has volunteered in humanitarian organizations doing administrative and clerical tasks, and is taking a sociology degree will list very different hard skills from one who is taking a degree in architecture but has experience working as a camp counselor.

Nonetheless, there are a few hard skills that are beneficial for every student to have, regardless of what they’re studying:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Data entry
  • Microsft Excel
  • Research
  • Scheduling
  • Filing
  • Computer skills

Business Hard Skills

Running a business or working for one requires a specific set of hard skills.

While the required skills differ from role to role and company to company, we’ve listed the most common ones below:

  • Language proficiency
  • Budgeting
  • Office management
  • Project management
  • Business development
  • Microsft Office Suite
  • Computer Skills
  • Data analysis
  • Financial accounting
  • Marketing
  • Research

Top Hard Skills to Learn

You should consider developing new hard skills if you want to level up your career.

The most useful hard skills to learn are those required by in-demand, well-paying jobs:

  • Software engineering
  • Web development
  • Data analysis
  • Computer hardware knowledge
  • Network analysis
  • Cybersecurity
  • Graphic design
  • Project Management
  • Foreign languages
  • Digital Marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Sales

If you have a career you enjoy that does not require the above hard skills, you may feel mounting pressure to learn in-demand hard skills.

It can be hard staying the course and improving your relevant hard skills instead of learning new ones and switching careers.

Regardless, be yourself, and don’t sign up for classes to learn the skills above just to say that you did.

How To Develop Hard Skills

You don’t need to be distressed if you find that the job you want requires skills you don’t have. You can always learn new hard skills to improve the ones you have.

Improvement ensures you don’t stagnate in your career and can request better pay and benefits after proving your worth and skills in end-of-year reviews.

Developing new hard skills gives you the confidence to find a different job and switch careers. It also gives you leverage when negotiating with potential employers.

Here are the best ways to develop hard skills to improve your chances of getting hired.

Take an In-Person Class

In-person classes are a fantastic way to learn new skills. You can pursue a short course, certification, diploma, or even a degree.

It is easier to practice and master skills when taking in-person classes. You can discuss, ask for help, and form groups to create projects in real-time without internet connectivity problems or break-out rooms.

In-person classes are also great places to network. You could meet companies looking to hire or someone willing to mentor you to ensure you grow in a specific skill.

Take an Online Course

An online course is an excellent option for those with a lot of responsibilities who are still looking to upskill.

You’ll get access to teaching materials, helpful websites, and interview preparation. Online classes are also cheaper than in-person classes.

You can take an online course if you’re a student or as an entry-level or experienced professional. Online courses also lack filler content and usually dive directly into teaching the core competencies of the skill.

Starting a Training Program

Another way to learn a hard skill is to get trained by a seasoned professional. Apprenticeships and other training programs are excellent options.

Training programs involve learning through application. You’ll be introduced to a concept and work on a real-world problem to develop the skill as you go.

A lot of companies offer on-the-job training programs for their employees. These equip you with the hard skills to perform your job and the job above you to enable you to seek a promotion.

Other organizations also offer to pay for you to learn at a university as you work for them to master specific skills.

Getting Regular Practice

Practice ensures you don’t lose your skills. It also keeps you up-to-date on industry developments and new approaches.

Ensure you practice your hard skills, even when you’ve just started learning. You will lose confidence in your ability to perform the skill if you don’t regularly practice it.

How To Include Hard Skills on a Resume

You must include hard skills on your resume to bypass ATS

Most jobs have a list of the hard skills required. You should showcase these skills front and center to increase your chances of getting an interview and the job.

Where to Put Hard Skills on a Resume

You should list hard skills in the skills section of your resume. The skills section appears in different places depending on the type of resume you write.

Your hard skills will be listed first for a skills-based resume because the skills section comes before any other section.

If you are using a chronological or combined resume format, the skills section typically appears after the work experience section but before education.

How To Write Descriptions for Hard Skills on a Resume

Describing your hard skills sets you apart from other applicants. Read through the job listing to note what skills are required and what experience and knowledge are preferred. You want to ensure that you describe most of, if not all, the hard skills in your resume.

Use the work experience section to give detailed accounts of your hard skills. Using action verbs, highlight how you use your hard skills as bullet points under each job you’ve performed.

Here is an example of a well-written description for a project manager in tech.

  • “Managed a team of 3 software engineers, 2 UI designers, and 1 technical writer to create impactful and user-friendly mobile applications for banks and brands.”

Wrapping Up

Hard skills are critical to performing well at a job. Your resume should showcase your relevant hard skills to show the hiring manager you can do the job.

Add hard skills to the skills section of your resume and use action verbs to highlight them when showcasing experience.

You can consistently improve your hard skills or learn new ones, so don’t despair if you lack them. You can take in-person or online courses or join a training program to equip you with the hard skills you need.

Don’t forget that practice makes perfect and ensures you stay up-to-date on industry developments. Share any questions or comments you have on hard skills below.

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