During the job application and interview process, employers look for applicants with two skill sets: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that are easy to quantify. Examples of hard skills include:
- Proficiency in a foreign language
- A degree or certificate
- Typing speed
- Machine operation
- Computer programming
These hard skills are often listed in your cover letter and on your resume, and are easy for an employer or recruiter to recognize.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are subjective skills that are much harder to quantify. Also known as "people skills" or "interpersonal skills," soft skills relate to the way you relate to and interact with other people. Examples of soft skills include:
- Time management
Skills Employers Look For
While certain hard skills are necessary for any position, employers are looking increasingly for job applicants with particular soft skills. This is because, while it is easy for an employer to train a new employee in a particular hard skill (such as how to use a certain computer program), it is much more difficult to train an employee in a soft skill (such as patience).
Emphasize Both Hard and Soft Skills
During the job application process, you should therefore be sure to emphasize both your hard and soft skills. This way, even if you lack a particular hard skill required by the company, you can emphasize a particular soft skill that you know would be valuable in the position. For example, if the job involves working on a number of group projects, be sure to emphasize your experience and skill as a team player and your ability to communicate with team members.