Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: Examples, Difference & Importance

(Last Updated On: July 13, 2019)

It is a matter of debate now a days on, hard skills vs. soft skills. What is the Difference between them? Employers seek both while selection process with examples and reflection. Which one is more important than others? Which skills sets employers need in the workforce?

There are many example of personal attributes valued by employers now a day. They want more in you than any other employees. Two sets of distinguished skills have now been the parameters to decide the professional status of s person. Regardless to personal, professional or business fields, knowing, understanding and assimilation differences, affinity and relationship between hard skills vs. soft skills have great value.

No doubt, a right combination between soft skills vs hard skills is vital. Candidates show their experience level and qualification for the job and get past ATS through hard skills. On the other hand, Soft skills list turn candidates human, showing empathy and leadership, and demonstrate characteristics.

Related: 20 traits that answer how to become a great CEO

What are hard skills

Hard skills or skill sets are teachable and achievable abilities for professionals which can easily be quantified by numbers. Hard skills are taught skills. In other words, hard skills is the quantifiable and specific abilities or knowledge which can be demonstrated through tangible objects and evidences as and when required.

Hard skills are quantifiable set of skills list which are easily learned academically, or, through earned certifications, or in work experience gained earlier. Hard skills are considered as specific to every profession that are estimated on the basis of job description.

Usually a person who is capable to understand hard skills vs. soft skills difference is able to adopt hard skills in the classroom learning, through journals, courses, books, blogs or other training materials, or on the job experience. There are many example of personal attributes valued by employers.

This skills are usually associated with the left side of the brain and are related to smarts or IQ. Hard skills on your resume will ascertained to what you have learned or achieved as a part of key skills meaning and achieving them.

The best way for the employers to find out required top hard skills on the resume or job application cover letter to measure how professionally you will be able to perform job responsibilities. Large companies find the employee hard skills valuable because the companies filter and rank applications through an applicant tracking systems (ATS). The best resume is that which uses the exact and top hard skills keywords found in the job duties.

Top hard skills examples

There are a lot of example of personal attributes those are valued by employers now a days. On way of determining top hard skills, you will be loving to go through the following hard skills examples, but not limited to:

  1. Data analysis
  2. SEO
  3. Gathering software requirements
  4. Shelf stocking
  5. Proficiency in a foreign language
  6. Netsuite
  7. Java
  8. Math skills
  9. Forklift Operation
  10. Marketing Skills
  11. HTML
  12. A degree or certificate
  13. ICIMS
  14. Computer skills
  15. Data mining
  16. Order processing
  17. Financial forecasting
  18. Typing speed
  19. Adobe Acrobat
  20. Phlebotomy
  21. Marketing campaign management
  22. Design skills
  23. Machine operation
  24. Drafting skills
  25. Computer programming
  26. Technical skills
  27. Financial modeling
  28. Physics knowledge
  29. Reading
  30. Data analysis
  31. Machine learning
  32. Apache Spark
  33. SaaS in cloud
  34. Data mining
  35. Computer science
  36. Data visualization
  37. Sales & Marketing
  38. SEO/SEM marketing
  39. Analytics
  40. Big Data Engineering
  41. Python
  42. Auditing
  43. Cash flow management
  44. Microsoft Office
  45. Risk Analysis
  46. CRM
  47. Accounting & Finance
  48. Mathematics
  49. Apache Hadoop
  50. Coding
  51. Artificial Intelligence
  52. Excel
  53. Marketing
  54. Social media
  55. Outreach
  56. Inside sales
  57. Outbound calling
  58. Strategy
  59. Forecasting
  60. GAAP
  61. Bookkeeping
  62. IT
  63. Quickbooks

Remember, these are some hard skills examples, not the all top hard skills set. There are many other. This top hard skills list will enable you to understand hard skills vs. soft skills categories.

What are soft skills

Soft skills are the un-quantifiable, non measurable, intangible attributes, that can’t be proven in quantity, and should be demonstrated through approach and work styles. It is a set of personal attributes valued by employers at present time. This skills set include subjective skills which are not specific to a particular profession or career as an evidence of key skills meaning and explanation.

Soft skills provide less evidence of experience than hard skills, rather help describe character through a bunch of personality traits.

They revolve around communication, teamwork, and work ethics.

A research found that, 77% of HR professionals believe soft skills are just as important as hard skills.

Personal attributes, understanding social cues, personality traits, and being able to communicate effectively are the examples of soft skills that carry value to the employers.

The other reason soft skills are difficult to evaluate is that it’s attachment to emotions. So, you can’t teach it in a traditional school setting. This make it impossible or hard or to evaluate or measure with standard. Still, there are some quiz tests that may determine a person’s soft skills standard through a situational questions.

Related: Improve top soft skills that employers look for future

Top soft skills examples

Soft skills, are continuously changing with perspective, corporate culture, senses, reality, situation demand, and aspiration from the other party. That adds extra value to my list of skills and qualities.

There are straight cut avenue towards excellence for hard skills list as these can be acquired through books, school, training, degrees, etc.

In case of soft skills list, there is not a linear path forward to really measure them perfectly to evaluate key skills meaning. Soft skills list fluctuate from the experience and perspective. There is no realistic and accepted curriculum that we see in case of hard skills.

On way of determining top soft skills, you will be loving to go through the following soft skills examples, but not limited to:

  1. Analytical skills
  2. Interpersonal Skills
  3. Active Learning
  4. Perceptiveness
  5. Psychology
  6. Dependability
  7. Communication
  8. Collaboration
  9. Work ethics
  10. Leadership
  11. Multi-tasker
  12. Conflict resolution
  13. Responsible
  14. Flexible
  15. Organized
  16. Consistent
  17. Motivation
  18. Flexibility
  19. Teamwork
  20. Decision making
  21. Coordination
  22. Honesty
  23. Critical Thinking
  24. Physically Fit
  25. Critical reasoning
  26. Team-oriented
  27. Strategic thinker
  28. Energetic
  29. Enthusiastic
  30. Driven
  31. Emotional Intelligence
  32. Confidence
  33. Creativity
  34. Attitude
  35. Detail oriented
  36. Stress management skills
  37. Work well under pressure
  38. Competitive
  39. Entrepreneurial
  40. Integrity
  41. Hands-on
  42. Persuasion
  43. Customer Service
  44. Adaptability
  45. Teamwork
  46. Problem solving
  47. Innovative
  48. Time Management
  49. Self Confidence
  50. Compassion
  51. Self Motivation
  52. Judgement
  53. Perception skills
  54. Sixth sense
  55. Anger management

Related: Creative ways to find and relate passion in career

Skills employers look for

There are many personal attributes valued by employers. You may name skills employers look for, communication, teamwork, positive attitude, self management, problem solving, resilience, decision making and willingness to learn, among many others. While a person applies for a job, and face interview process, skills employees look for a suitable candidates with these two invaluable skill sets: hard skills and soft skills.

The employers likes if a candidate knows what’s the difference between hard skills vs. soft skills. This understanding enables a candidate to clearly have those skills, or at least at the learning curve for absorbing them. When anyone knows them well, it’s very easy to adopt those skills as well.

hard skills vs soft skills

hard skills vs soft skills

Make your top skills visible

In the job application and interview process, a successful candidates will pay attention to making sure these skills visible. An endeavor like this is an indication that she has understanding on difference between these two skill sets: hard skills vs. soft skills– examples, difference and importance.

Hard skills turns very positive for an employer or recruiter to understand your level of hard skills when you intentionally list hard skills in your cover letter before applying for a job, and on your updated resume.

On the other hand, soft skills are hidden, intangible subjective skills which are not that much easy to quantify. Soft skills are also named as “people skills” or “interpersonal skills,” that justifies key skills meaning. Soft skills is the interaction skills with the other person. This skills sets are the traits that turn you a good employee.

hard skills vs. soft skills: which matter most?

Brain is the center that distinguishes hard skills and soft skills list. Hard skills come out of the left brain that is considered also as the logic center. On the other hand, function of soft skills are related with the right brain which is considered as the seat of our emotional state.

Some people consider hard skills matter most to the organizations. But actually it is not right now a days. The future job trends also indicate the increasing demand of soft skills in the organizations. The reality shows, demand for soft skills has been increasing since 1980 or before. LinkedIn found that 57% of employers evaluate soft skills more than hard skills in the organizations.

Hard skills vs soft skills difference indicates, soft skills can’t be shown with visibility. It is not like hard skills and don’t have specific evidence that other persons can understand it apparently. Skills like listening, decision making, etiquette, communication, and getting along with other people makes you a responsible person.

Apart from some specific hard skills required for a specific job, employers of the present time continuously look for candidates who have certain soft skills with evidence. It is common for most of the employers to prioritize higher level of soft skills, because these can’t be trained with ease. You can’t teach a person work ethics so easily. On the other hand, hard skills can be improved very easily with some training and coaching during the job.

Related: 16 facts to know about the future jobs

Hard skills and soft skills- Importance

Hard skills is a way to notice proficiency and mastery,

whereas soft skills understand relational abilities, and communication.

A combination of soft and technical skills is good for the employers to prove key skills meaning. Many of professional as well as personal attributes are valued by employers. Employees with this hybrid skills are very competitive in a technological-focus job environment. Incorporating required skills set will enhance the opportunities to grab your dream job with great success.

Related: How could you convert your failure to success?

As the both are important, the best way is to pay attention to both hard and soft skills during the job application process. It is also a good idea to include your best fit soft skills for a job application, in case you don’t have a specific hard skill that is asked by the employers.

Let’s consider the case study of Catherine, a software engineer who has the following skills she put on her resume:

  • Java
  • CASE
  • Javascript
  • Linux

Catherine also has following top soft skills list, such as:

  • Superior in time management
  • Work well under pressure
  • Analytical ability

This example demonstrate that Catherine has a very different, very specific hard skills competence compared to her soft skills traits.

Reflect your top skills

Think, an employer looks for a candidate who is able to perform a role of a translator for an international project, you may put your second language ability on the resume. On the contrary, can you prove your level of productivity on the resume? The answer is, you have to put some soft skills examples and incidence to actually present that you have that specific soft skills set. So, only having and saying about the soft skills you have is not enough. You need to prove it.

For example, mention with examples that you have a strong professional ethics and honesty, when the employer looks for an accountant for the company.

Think, you have good Management skills as well as communication skills. But, do you think it is okay to just mention them on your resume and get a phone call for selection in a company you have applied for your dream job? No. You have to pick the right skills fit for the job positions. And most importantly, you have to put some significant examples and case studies when and how you applied the mentioned skills in reality to solve a problem or need. This is the way that employers will be giving emphasis on your resume. That in turn will grow an employer’s interest and curiosity upon your talent.

Related: 21 Business telephone etiquette tips

How to reflect top skills

Employers now a days search for proof or demonstration that the candidates has the perfect hard and soft skills the company require for evaluating key skills meaning. It is quite vague to say, “I’m enthusiastic, hard-working, energetic, honest and a universal communicator.”

When the travel TV ad says, “Fly Great with Us!” does it have any true meaning? No. As the best fit candidates, one need to click the perfect resume skills the employer search for, as well as credible demonstration to prove those skills with suitable examples.

You can highlight your skills in your resume as well as during the job interview so that potential employers can be well aware of your skills. It is good to incorporate your relevant skills on your resume under a separate heading. The other way to mention your skills in the job description area.

For example, while going to apply for a job where you may need to demonstrate programming knowledge, you should incorporate relevant experience under job descriptions of the resume.

A resume that wins the race

A perfect resume with proper differentiation between hard skills vs soft skills will be worthy in this competitive world where people in number rush for a job with versatile skills. The best way is a good presentation and demonstration of right skills sets at right place.

The cover letter is the other area to incorporate relevant skills set. It is a good platform to expose your both sets of skills to signify key skills meaning. In case of demonstrating soft skills, don’t just say you have that and this skills, rather present them with past instances and experiences so that the employers can have a good idea and confidence.

The fact is, you have to prove your soft skills, and be confident you can acquire almost all the hard skills you want. All up to your need, interest and will power. And the good news is, when you properly prove list of hard skills in the resumes, you will already be in the position. The simplest way is to know your skills where you are good at, also the job description that value the skills, and then show achievements on your resume that prove your skills and abilities.

A summary statement in the resume, should cover soft skills examples, that will also add extra value to your list of skills and qualities. such as:

Software engineer with problem-solving, telephone etiquette and super communication skills with 7 years of experience in system analysis strategy. With active contribution, I developed more than 15 useful software from the beginning to the end.

In this example, soft skills like “problem solver” and “super communicator” have been used as summary statement. Moreover, measurable metrics have been produced as evidence of experience. Soft skills should have a measurable outcome. You may also incorporate your soft skills list at the experience section with implication of achievements.

A winning resume example

For example, instead of merely saying “I have required analytical skills,” you should mention, “during my job at Z organization, I analyzed an old gridlock on supply chain management, and automated it through real time analytical data I generated”. The same rule applies for your video resume and e-portfolio.

When you will be in automobile sector, it means closing cash drawers, and restoring shelves, or check supply chain for the next day stock should get priority on the resume. In banking area? List of hard skills for resumes should be balance sheet, debit and credit, customers negotiation skills, etc.

When you are a designer, your hard skills examples can be Photoshop, illustrator, color palette, etc. For an accountant, the skills set might be account analysis, and asset management. Professional skills for doctors can be patient care, clinical education and instant responsiveness.

In case of the software engineer profession, you need to prove your efficiency on open source, data structures, SQL, security, Java, Python and coding. You will be treated as funny in case you stuff all of the hard skills from your list.

Computer skills should be the a crucial example of hard skills for a librarian, or a script writer, or a AutoCAD designer to address the key skills meaning.

How to pick top skills

Go through the job circular and job description attentively to have a real pulse on the skills that the employer finds for that specific job. Always customize your resume as per the job requirements. Most importantly, there are several skills that you should not include in the job application. Decide the perfect skills for a particular job, and eliminate the unnecessary or irrelevant skills for a specific job opportunity.

Yes, you may find organizing all the skills set right on the resume a bit complicated. But, these are not really complex. You can easily pick the right skills for right place. You may place all of the soft skills on a resume. But what do you think will be the best skills that the employers will notice and will hire you straight away?

The hint is, never pick soft skills for a resume from a generic list on random basis. Stuffing resume with all skills from a list will not give you the job. Everyone will do it. What fro the flocks will make you distinguished from all others? Specification and customization pay value to them.

Related: 11 Habits to help dominate by 2020 as a leader

Importance of job ad

Go through the job ad. Below, we put a sample job description retrieved from the internet that exemplifies required soft skills on a job description to reflect key skills meaning-

Accountant wanted

  • Good written and verbal communication.
  • Should have bookkeeping, and data entry skills.
  • Must be dependable.
  • Should have a strong work ethic.
  • Will have to accomplish accounting functions, etc.

This job circular clearly mentions what you need to prove. You can easily qualify for this with the soft and hard skills you have, with proper implication and demonstration, that any other can’t show. Moreover, add them too if you have couple of extra skills they may like to see. These will add good impression along with personal attributes valued by employers now a day.

There are thousands of hard skills. And the number of recognizable soft skills are about 30 in total.

Carefully search the skills for resumes that match your expertise. Include only the relevant key skills associated to the job. And don’t stop at this point. Give a deeper dive. Common mistakes most of the job seekers do is to just list down as many resume skills as they can. That’s actually a opportunity for you, because it makes it easier for you to beat them.

Customized top soft skills and hard skills

Never send a resume to every job opportunity you found after stuffing massive hard skills list. It will never justify your key skills meaning. Better, keep your own resume template, and customize it to adjust before each job you apply to. Include only the the list of hard skills your prospective employer wants, as well as just a couple more, that you deem should be relevant, and you will be able to prove them.

Online classes, materials, lectures, blogs and videos are plentiful and can enhance hard skills as well as soft skills to a great extent. People can be able to know how to pick the right list of hard skills vs soft skills.

Related: Improve leading social skills essential for success at work

How he got job with existing skills

A case study on how Alex got his job from the ad he saw in a company website-

“Y Company is looking for a front desk officer who should be skilled in (1) Online support services portal and chatbot, (2) teamwork, (3) communication, (4) Event management, (5) Coordination, and (6) ecommerce.

At the outset Alex prepared a list of soft skills and hard skills sets for his resumes. He took some time to gather all the soft skills and hard skills list.

Next, he did the following with the resume bullet points to grab attention of the employer:

Alex put the following soft skills and hard skills lists on the resume for the position-

(5) Coordinated, (2) Collaborated and (3) communicated everyday with an (4) event management team of 10 people to evaluate my key skills meaning.

(5) Supported team meetings for a project management that increased revenue for 20% (6) ecommerce consumers.

Submitted weekly progress report to the team members, that added extra mileage to my professional and  personal attributes valued by my employers.

(2) Coordinated with 10 projects to train their front desk management personnel and (1) Develop FAQ and layouts for online support services that added extra value to my list of skills and qualities.

Input points with percentages, number of people, dollar figures, timeline, and other metrics to demonstrate the strengths of your soft skills and hard skills on the resume.

The next step was awesome. These added extra value to his list of skills and qualities. Alex got the interview call for the second time and after some chat they offered him the job with nearest joining date!

Add value to your top hard and soft skills

Using Synonyms for common soft and hard skills is a good way to proceed further. However the skills or the synonyms should reflect specific achievements, instead of attributes only.

Instead of saying “I am likable,” or, “I am honest”, or, “I am highly skilled.”, demonstrate these with your measurable accomplishments, achievements and experience. Prove these upright.

“I can type 100 words a minute and typed 2 million words all together in 80 published articles in 2018” will obviously speaks more than a hundreds of synonyms for hard working skills.

Related: 10 life lessons people learn too late

Common skills synonyms:

Using synonyms in many cases for hard and soft skills list will help you to avoid repetition, by broadening your capabilities in other sense to adjust key skills meaning. Here are some examples of synonyms related to soft and hard skills list that will be adding extra potential to your list of skills and qualities-

Hard-Working synonyms list:

Diligent, dedicated, persevering.

As per the HR professionals, this is the most valued of all the skills for a resume.

People skills synonyms list:

Emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, EQ

Personable synonyms list:

Amiable, affable, likable, easygoing, great interpersonal soft skills

Teachable synonyms list:

Quick study, fast learner, active learner

Time Management synonyms list:

Fast, good at scheduling own work, efficient, delegation.

Highly skilled synonyms list:

Able, adept, proficient

Proficiency synonyms list:

Gifted, accomplished, talented

Patience synonyms list:

Tolerance, composure, restraint

Dependability synonyms list:

Trustworthiness, Loyalty

Qualified synonyms list:

Capable, certified, competent, accomplished, licensed

Anger Management synonyms

Cool, work under pressure

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: Why we need both

Hard skills and soft skills list are a perfect combination of methodologies and teamwork, where one skill can’t perform property without the other.

It is a crucial situation how to find the right hard skills for resume that attract the employers. What will add extra value to my list of skills and qualities? As we said, hard skills list should be reexamined before applying for every job. To do so, analyze the job description and put the high-priority hard skills list for the hiring authority. Carefully use the right tense as per ATS for the hard skills list you use for a particular job. Make sure to enlist the form of the word as it is mentioned in the description of a job opening.

Addressing skills whether it is hard or soft is somehow confusing. While some say that one skill is more difficult than other, or a skill is more important than the other. Difference between hard skills and soft skills examples are often overlap each other. Professionalism is a standard where people have to work with other human, not only the intangible or tangible skills set. Therefore, hard skills and soft skills are actually the two sides of the same coin where human is to adjust many other factors.

We discussed, soft skills are non-technical skill. However, it does not mean these skills are not able to work with measurable achievements. Rather, soft skills become more believable, realistic and tangible as soon as its associated with measurable results and accomplishments.

Unchanging state of hard skills list make the other difference. Hard skill is transferable regardless to industries and professions.

Apparently, while talking about skilled labor, the job deals with proficiency through a hard skill. However, some sort of manual labor is significantly require, that implies soft skills lists. This add additional contribution to anyone’s list of skills and qualities.

Related: 5 reasons why people do not perform at their best

Hard skills and soft skills– a perfect match

No doubt employers are looking for a perfect match of hard and soft skills in case of every in take. An employer knows well that having all top grade hard skills list will not be effective in case the person can’t work under pressure and in a team.

Emotional traits pay a great value to workplace to justify key skills meaning. In fact, soft skills render life to work as work is not quite mechanical or run only by a system with robotic communication and interaction.

Soft skills list are found valuable regardless of place, position and situation in the company. They by default grow over time. Soft skills act as the unique, diversified and broad x-factor for any company.

It is very much true that dealing with people is much technical that anything in the organization. You will find managing your colleagues is far different than inputting keystroke commands on automation software.

In fact, people are different, they don’t always behave or act as you respond or expect while communicating or conversing. You don’t assume how a customer will behave with you.

Reading a person and dealing with him require successful negotiation skill. Your soft skills list enable you to work with a diverse group of people and communicate effectively with them as and when needed. Soft skills list also resolve conflicts to save resources and time to validate key skills meaning.


Most of the employers will love if you have a mixture of hard skills vs soft skills list in you. Pick the appropriate ones they evaluate most in the job advertisement.

It is not a good idea to just stuffing a list of skills on the resume. This will deduct value to your list of skills and qualities. Demonstrate them with evidence, measurable achievements and practical experience.

When picked up properly, hard skills vs soft skills act together to generate a powerhouse of resources. It is a significant point to attract hiring manager to pay attention to the applicants.

Since soft skills are quite different than hard skills, all together, they develop a great balance between hard expertise and interpersonal traits. A career craving candidate may form a well rounded combination of hard skills and soft skills to justify key skills meaning.

Related: Improve top soft skills that employers look for future

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