Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Dr. Purushothaman
December 7, 2013

Do you know the difference between hard skills and soft skills on your resume? Well you better get acquainted real quick because it can be the difference between 10 interviews and no interviews, between a new job and no job. Think I'm kidding? Keep reading.
I talk about this every day... probably a hundred times a day. Okay well not that many but every client I speak with I explain the difference between hard skills and soft skills and how they relate to your resume.
Hard skills describe processes, procedures, industry specific jargon and are easy to measure and quantify. They are terms such as; account management, talent acquisition and development, client retention, data management, project management, accounts receivable and payable, product support, and new business development.
Soft skills are personality descriptors and people skills and not easily measured or quantifiable. They include terms such as; excellent communicator, great verbal and written skills, problem solving, providing support, listening, teamwork and more.
The next time you're sitting in a staffing agency ask your recruiter what terms they use when searching for a candidate for a specific position. I guarantee you they're not looking for an excellent communicator. They can gather that from your phone interview. What they are looking for is someone with the necessary skills, expertise, and experience in the right areas - those hard skills we talked about. If your resume isn't chock full of hard skills and industry specific keywords you are doing yourself a great disservice and costing yourself weeks if not months in your job search.
Soft skills have a place too, but the best place is when the job description for the position you are seeking specifically asks for and requires those skills as a necessary and vitally important function of the job. I had one client about two weeks ago that was seeking a position in social services. This position had no hard skill requirements. Basically, they were looking for someone with GREAT people skills. This is the perfect time to flaunt those amazing people skills. These types of positions or job descriptions are few and far between. Most job descriptions are looking for hard skills and real world industry expertise. Pay attention to what the job description is looking for and tailor your resume accordingly. I can't repeat myself enough customization is key!
Now that you know the difference think about how each relates to your resume and your job search and implement appropriately.
Jessica Holbrook is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. She has written more than 100 articles that are featured on some of the best career advice Web sites today. In addition, her writing has been included in Launch pad, a career search strategy guide featuring exclusive information by the top career experts in the industry. Published quarterly, Launch pad is the respected guide used by career development centers and MBA programs throughout the country.
As CEO of Great Resumes Fast, Jessica enjoys collaborating with forward-thinking professionals and executives, identifying their personal brand and value proposition and leveraging their unique talent, passion, and vision to position them as a leader in their industry. Her passion is helping professionals and executives uncover what makes them stand out in the crowd.

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