When writing your CV, it is important to know the difference between hard skills and soft skills.
If you leave these skills off your CV, employers may not get the full extent of what you bring to the table.
In this article, we’ll show you the difference between the two skill types and where and how to use them effectively on your CV – in order to wow recruiters and land interviews.
What are hard skills?
Hard skills, otherwise known as role-specific skills, are precise, job-related abilities needed to perform a particular job function, such as creative writing for a copywriting position or troubleshooting for an IT position.
They are very clear-cut tangible skills and are easy to measure and prove through qualifications and experience level.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are personal qualities, like how good you are at paying attention, communicating, and making decisions. These skills are not specific to a particular profession and can apply to any industry or job.
They can be a bit tricky to show on a CV, as they are not as concrete, or easy to measure as hard skills. However, they are very important for any job you do.
What’s the difference between hard and soft skills?
Soft skills, sometimes called personal skills, are everyday qualities required in most professions, such as teamwork and communication.
Hard skills tend to be easy to define, train and measure, but it can be more challenging to do these things with soft skills. For example, if somebody were to take a bookkeeping course, it would be easy to measure their ability through their exam results – and this could be well translate onto a CV by including their qualification and grades in bookkeeping.
However soft skills like adaptability and resilience don’t have courses or any standard way of measuring them, so it can be harder to communicate them in your CV.
Examples of soft skills
Here are some examples of soft skills:
- Leadership – Guiding and encouraging others to work towards mutual objectives, often seen in management roles.
- Planning – Tactically organising how tasks will be carried out and working out processes.
- People skills – Developing and sustaining relationships with experts and connections to promote growth and opportunities.
- Initiative – Thinking on your own two feet and making trustworthy choices without continuous direction.
- Problem-solving – Identifying possible risks that may impact the company’s processes and offering solutions to tackle them.
- Adaptability – Quickly acclimatising to new circumstances while performing well.
- Resilience – Recovering from obstacles and trials while staying optimistic.
- Motivation – Remaining focused and determined to meet goals, despite challenges.
- Attention to detail – Noticing small, possibly critical details and then tackling them properly.
- Communication – Delivering information successfully through talking, writing, and visual methods (discussions, emails, videos).
- Creativity – Coming up with original concepts, from advert designs to marketing campaigns.
- Decision making – Making important choices, especially when feeling pressured, that influence co-workers and consumers.
- Empathy – Being aware of and relating to the feelings and viewpoints of others and nurturing strong relationships.
- Diplomacy – Handling people with compassion to find solutions that meet distinct needs.
- Diplomacy – Managing and settling conflicts within businesses or teams.
- Flexibility – Readiness to adapt to unforeseen situations.
- Organisation – Determining efficient systems and order for daily tasks.
- Reliability – Being trusted to finish errands and deliver results without constant guidance.
- Teamwork – Working alongside co-workers and people externally to reach shared objectives.
- Time management – Being attentive to time constraints to meet deadlines.
Examples of hard skills
Here are some examples of hard skills for various job sectors, including admin, finance, technology, sales and marketing, and education.
Effective administration is critical so that a company can function seamlessly. Whether your role directly entails administration or not, you will probably need some administrative skills.
- Data analysis – This means being good at looking at information and working out what it means. You can find essential facts and trends from numbers and details.
- Call handling – You can answer and deal with phone calls. You are good at talking to people on the phone and assisting them with their queries or issues.
- Diary management – You ensure appointments, meetings, and significant dates are all in the right spot and on schedule.
- Email management – You are proficient at managing emails. You can sort, respond, and arrange emails so that critical messages don’t get mislaid in the inbox mayhem.
- Business software – You are experienced at using computer programs for work purposes. Whether it’s spreadsheets, word processing, or one-off tools for your job, you understand how to use them well.
The below hard skills only apply to roles in finance and accounting or any positions with financial responsibilities.
- Budgeting – You can plan how to use money sensibly and choose where the finances should go to ensure everything is paid for without spending too much.
- Cost saving – Finding ways to reduce spending while still getting the same outcome. This enables the business to keep more money in its pocket.
- Bookkeeping – Keeping a thorough money diary for the organisation, which documents all the finances coming in and going out to ensure everything adds up accurately.
- Payroll – Ensuring employees get paid the correct amount right on schedule.
- Taxation – Handling taxes, which are fees to the government. You ensure the business pays the right amount of tax and follows tax regulations.
These days, technology is rife in the workplace. Even if you aren’t in a tech position, chances are that you will need some IT skills to perform your job effectively.
- Coding – Giving instructions to computers in a unique language, which allows the creation of apps, websites, and software.
- Network configuration – Setting up the internet for a group of computers so they can talk to each other and transfer data efficiently.
- Development – Building websites or apps from scratch.
- Testing – Finding and resolving problems to ensure everything works perfectly.
- Installation – Making sure all the parts fit correctly so they are ready to use.
Sales and marketing
In the sales and marketing sector, your capacity to connect with consumers and advertise services or products is paramount. Here are various hard skills needed for this field:
- Lead generation – Identifying possible customers and using strategies to engage people who are likely interested in your company’s products or services.
- Target achievement – Meeting certain objectives, such as reaching sales goals.
- Negotiation – Communicating with others to agree on prices or terms that work for each party.
- Market research – Gathing data about the market to ascertain what customers need.
- Campaign management – Planning, guiding, and overseeing advertising campaigns to ensure their success.
Even though educational skills are usually related to teaching positions, they are also valuable in the business sector, especially in roles that relate to learning, training, and development.
- Coaching – Helping students with their learning by providing support, encouragement, and advice.
- Behaviour management – Making sure everyone sticks to the rules and behaves well in the group environment or classroom.
- Classroom management – Ensuring the class or group remains focused, engaged, and disciplined.
- Public speaking – Communicating clearly and confidently to inspire and impart information to others.
- Lesson planning – Preparing what to teach, how to teach it, plus the necessary materials to ensure successful learning.
Why are hard skills important for your CV?
Hard skills are essential for your CV because they are necessary for performing your job.
A taxi driver has to know how to drive a taxi and have good route knowledge.
Hiring managers search for applicants with strong hard skills on their CVs for a variety of reasons. These skills show that you are clued up and help you be productive and committed at work.
What’s more, these hard skills can give you an edge over other applicants with fewer technical abilities. Recruiters search for hard skills, so it’s essential to have them in your CV to get found. By adding these skills, you’re boosting your chances of being noticed and landing that interview.
For example, an employer will often say to a recruiter:
“I need you to find me a candidate with five years of copywriting experience and who has strong grammar, spelling, punctuation, and knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).”
So, if you have these skills written in your CV and made prominent, you’re going to be shortlisted for lots of interviews.
How to add hard skills to your CV
Here’s how to showcase hard skills on your CV effectively.
To achieve the utmost impact, include your hard skills in specific sections of your CV.
These sections include:
Add hard skills to your profile
Your CV profile, which sits at the top of your CV, is an opportunity to emphasise your primary skills, especially the most critical hard skills the hiring manager has requested in the job description. So, insert your main hard skills, as per the job description, into your CV profile, located at the top of your CV. This ensures the hiring manager instantly spots your key skills.
Write something like:
Add hard skills to your core skills
In your core skills section (which is a bullet-pointed list of skills that appears at the top of your CV) show your hard skills in action to catch recruiters’ eyes.
Use quantifiable information such as “years of experience” or specific grades or levels to prove your proficiency in these skills
For instance, if you are good with data analysis, state how many years you’ve been doing it or your relevant qualifications.
- “5 years data analysis experience.”
- “Google Data Analytics Certified.”
Add hard skills to your work experience
Your work experience section is where you can talk about your skills in more depth and say what you have done in your previous jobs. If you are an experienced candidate, this part of your CV sits underneath your personal profile and core skills.
If you are an entry-level candidate with less or no work experience, your employment history section appears beneath your education section.
Here, you will detail your work history and what you did in each role.
You can list your responsibilities in bullet points and include your skills to show how you apply them in the workplace and give quantified achievements to prove impact like this:
Tailor your skills
When applying for a job, look at the job advert to see what skills they are seeking. Then, in your CV, mention the skills you have that match what they want.
This shows you’re a great fit for the job.
Let’s say a hiring manager is looking for someone with excellent IT skills, and you have those qualities. Be sure to state some relevant talents on your CV, such as web development or troubleshooting.
Tailoring your skills to match what they are looking for makes you a stronger candidate and boosts your chances of getting noticed.
How to add soft skills to your CV
When you put your soft skills on your CV, it’s best to show them by giving examples – don’t just tell. If you can show hiring managers your skills, this makes your application more plausible and enables recruiters to see how you can make a positive impact on their team.
Rather than simply saying, “I have good teamwork skills”, incorporate examples of your teamwork into demonstrations of your work, like this…
“Working within a team of 5 developers, writing joint code projects, providing feedback on team-members work and delivering 5 completed team projects per week”
This way, you prove your skills with actions and results, rather than simply stating that you have the soft skills you’re trying to communicate.
How to develop your skills
If you want to get ahead in your career or personal development, grasping new skills is the secret.
Here’s how you can develop your skills in the workplace and through an online course.
In the workplace
Developing your skills is vital for success in the working environment. So, find openings for learning and development.
For example, you could:
- Ask for feedback – Never be scared to ask your co-workers or manager how you’re doing. Their feedback can help you do better.
- Take on new responsibilities – Offer to carry out new duties that aren’t part of your job description. It demonstrates initiative and allows you to learn new things.
- Request a promotion – If you’re keen to try a higher position, have a chat with your manager about it. They may give thought to your request.
- Join workshops – Go to workshops or training sessions, such as digital marketing or time management workshops, to attain new skills or enhance current ones.
- Collaborate with your co-workers – It’s important to work well with your team. So, share ideas and help each other make the workplace better.
- Invest time in training courses – Enrol in courses that teach you crucial job skills. It’s an investment in boosting your future career prospects.
When you make a constant effort to improve your abilities, you’ll be better prepared to do well in your job.
Online courses are an excellent way of getting new skills.
Some of the benefits of an online course include:
- Career progression – Qualifications from courses can result in better job opportunities.
- Skill improvement – Courses allow you to gain new abilities or develop existing ones.
- Personal growth – Courses enrich your knowledge and build self-confidence.
- Flexibility – Online courses provide flexibility so that you can learn at your own speed.
Here are some of the best online course providers:
- Vision2Learn – Offers fully funded e-learning courses designed to improve skills and understanding.
- Open University – Provides a variety of options that enable you to build your knowledge and skills, whatever your study objective.
- FutureLearn – From short courses to online degrees, FutureLearn offers an extensive range of courses from top universities and institutions.
- Coursera – Delivers over 5,800 courses, Professional Certificates, and degrees from top-rated organisations and universities.
- Oxford Home Study College – Provides an array of convenient, affordable, and fully-endorsed study-at-home courses.
- University of London Online – Offers programmes to 45,000 students in 190 countries across the globe and is a national leader in the humanities division.
- The Skills Network – Offers courses that will develop skills and knowledge for everyone, whether you’re an individual or a company wanting to upskill staff.
- Udemy – Choose from more than 210,000 online video courses with new additions published monthly.