by Juliana Trichilo Cina, jtcina.com
Hard skills are abilities that are well-defined and measurable. They represent the minimum skills necessary to do a specific job. This is where employers start screening to weed out unqualified job applicants.
Examples of hard skills include:
- spreadsheet skills
- software application proficiency
- operating machinery
- software development
- speaking a foreign language.
Soft skills are more elusive and intangible. Unlike hard skills, which tend to be specific to a certain job, soft skills are most often transferable across professions and industries and enhance an individual’s interactions, job performance and career prospects.
Examples of soft skills might include:
- bedside manner
- the ability to teach and learn
While your technical or hard skills are necessary foundational skills, hard skills alone are no guarantee of success. Employers need to see strong soft skills in a job applicant to believe that candidate will demonstrate longevity and performance.
So, if soft skills are so valuable, why isn’t there a Soft Skills 101 course in high school, university or college? In fact, there are many soft skills courses available but we often overlook them as delivering less value than the technical course choices available.
You are expected to acquire soft skills in your daily interactions and educational experiences. However, just like a math class, while leadership comes naturally to some, others struggle to master the skill. And by the time someone notices you are lacking a valuable soft skill it’s often too late. It may cost you a promotion, a job, a relationship, etc.
Whether you are still a student or a long-time business person, I recommend putting soft skills at the top of your educational priority list. Take courses, hire a coach…every effort you make will improve your professional and personal life by leaps and bounds. I know money is tight but carve out a small piece of your budget each year to devote to your soft skill development. It will pay off in raises, promotions, new opportunities and overall life experience.
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