Hard skills vs soft skills: differences and relevance

Hard skills vs. soft skills, knowing their differences and importance helps to design work teams and recruit professionals with the...
28 February 2023
Hard skills vs soft skills: differences and relevance

Hard skills vs. soft skills, knowing their differences and importance helps to design work teams and recruit professionals with the right technical, interpersonal and social skills to face the obstacles that may arise in a project. 

Likewise, today’s companies are committed to enhancing the company culture and for this they need to have profiles with skills that help to build and maintain a good working environment.

In view of what has been said so far, the balance between hard skills and soft skills is necessary to have multifaceted and transversal teams. The main argument for this article is to focus on their differences and importance.

What’s the difference between soft skills and hard skills

Multiple differentiating features between hard and soft skills begin with their definition.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills refer to specific technical abilities and easily quantifiable knowledge, such as programming languages, certifications, and software knowledge. 

These skills are often listed on resumes and job applications and are typically required for a specific job or industry. Examples of hard skills include proficiency in a foreign language, experience with a specific type of software, or a certification in a particular field.

It is important to note that hard skills can be learned or acquired through education, training, or experience. Employers often look for specific hard skills when hiring for a position, so it is important for job seekers to highlight the relevant hard skills on their resumes and during job interviews.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills refer to interpersonal skills, personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people. 

Soft skills are critical for success in the workplace, as they help individuals to interact effectively with others, communicate, and manage their time.

Hard skills vs soft skills

Differences between soft skills and hard skills

Below and through the rest of their differences, we will delve into both types of skills needed in a company to build balanced teams whose members empower each other.

Type of intelligence required

Hard skills appeal to general practical intelligence, while soft skills are based on people’s emotional intelligence.

Learning processes

Hard skills can be learned by acquiring theoretical knowledge and repetitive practice through training programs. 

However, despite what you may think at first, soft skills can also be acquired and enhanced. 

Some effective methods to enhance the soft skills of your internal teams are coaching or team-building techniques such as Agile methodology.

Acquisition time

As they are technical specialization skills, hard skills have a shorter acquisition time than soft skills that require responses acquired through trial and error and trial and error procedures.

Measurement and assessment procedures

Hard skills are more concrete and specific and are, therefore, easier to detect and measure throughout the recruitment and selection process. In addition, they can be seen from the beginning through a diploma or certification. 

Soft skills are more challenging to measure. However, different methods, such as gamification, psycho-technical tests, or behavioral interviews, can help you.

Hard skills vs soft skills list

The most intuitive way to recognize the differences between hard and soft skills is to look at real examples. 

Some of the most in-demand hard skills include:

  1. Programming languages (e.g. Java, Python, C++, JavaScript)
  2. Web development (e.g. HTML, CSS, JavaScript)
  3. Database management (e.g. SQL, Oracle)
  4. Project management (e.g. Agile, Scrum, Waterfall)
  5. Data analysis and visualization (e.g. Excel, R, Tableau)
  6. Network and information security
  7. Cloud computing (e.g. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud)
  8. Digital marketing (e.g. SEO, PPC, social media marketing)
  9. Graphic design and video editing (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere)
  10. Technical writing and documentation
  11. Foreign languages
  12. Certification in specific field or industry (e.g. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Project Management Professional (PMP))
  13. IT operations and support (e.g. Linux, Windows Server, Active Directory)
  14. 3D modeling and animation (e.g. Autodesk Maya, Blender)
  15. Accounting and finance (e.g. Quickbooks, SAP)

And here is a list of examples of soft skills:

  1. Communication: The ability to effectively convey information verbally and in writing.
  2. Teamwork: The ability to work effectively with others in a group or team.
  3. Problem-solving: The ability to identify and resolve problems in a timely and effective manner.
  4. Adaptability: The ability to adapt to new situations, technologies, or environments.
  5. Leadership: The ability to inspire and guide others towards a common goal.
  6. Time management: The ability to effectively manage one’s time to accomplish tasks and meet deadlines.
  7. Interpersonal skills: The ability to interact effectively with others.
  8. Conflict resolution: The ability to manage and resolve conflicts.
  9. Decision making: The ability to make sound decisions.
  10. Emotional intelligence: The ability to understand, manage and express emotions.
  11. Negotiation: The ability to reach agreements with others.
  12. Creative thinking: The ability to come up with original ideas and solutions.
  13. Organizational skills: The ability to effectively manage and prioritize tasks and responsibilities.
  14. Stress management: The ability to handle pressure and maintain a positive attitude.
  15. Active listening is listening attentively and understanding what others are saying.
Hard skills vs soft skills differences and relevance

Are soft or hard skills more important?

Both hard skills and soft skills are important for success in the workplace. 

Nowadays, company culture is understood as a critical factor that improves the employee experience, increasing your employees’ commitment to the project. 

This explains why, in today’s work environment, it is as essential for teams to have the technical skills that allow them to successfully perform their functions as it is for them to have the soft skills necessary to contribute to improving the work environment and internal communication within organizations. 

Thus, the balance between hard and soft skills enhances the productivity and competitiveness of companies.

Relevance of hard skills

The candidate must have a minimum of hard skills to assume the responsibilities of his job, although, once integrated into the company, these technical requirements can be developed. 

The result is workers’ specialization which increases their performance.  

These types of skills are the ones that mark the professional category of a worker and the ones involved in a possible promotion within the organization.

Relevance of soft skills

Given that today’s markets are in constant transformation and uncertainty reigns in many contexts, soft skills such as flexibility, adaptability, and resilience have become highly relevant and are shown as strategic skills when selecting personnel

In the same way, having open-minded profiles that understand the importance of integrating into continuous training programs that favor transversality is decisive and critical for many companies.

At Smowltech, we have developed proctoring products that will help you in the process of recruiting and developing the hard skills and soft skills of your teams.  

Request your free demo so we can share how we can enhance your Human Resources strategies.


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