21 July 2023

Soft Skills Vs Hard Skills: What are They?

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Ever read through a job description and wondered what people mean by soft skills vs hard skills? Skills are skills, surely. Do they need to be soft and hard? Yes. They do.

And we’re here to tell you why.

When you apply for a job, an employer will mark you on a number of things. These include your personality and ability to communicate effectively, as well as industry-specific skills like your knowledge of software and other machinery.

So you’ll want to get these down on your CV. And impress employers right from the get-go.

Read on to find out how…

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are behavioural skills that show how you interact with others at work. Employers use them to gauge your confidence and proactivity and determine whether you’re the right fit for the business. Here are soft skills that employers look for in a candidate.

  • Communication
  • Organisation
  • Leadership
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility
  • Mentoring
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Ability to prioritise workload
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity 
  • Positivity

These skills are transferable and can be used across a wide range of industries and roles, from entry level positions to founders and CEOs. Having the right soft skills makes all the difference. Not only does it increase productivity, it creates a tighter company culture too.

How to demonstrate soft skills in your cover letter

When writing your cover letter, you should highlight your soft skills in the opening paragraph.

“As a performance-driven marketer with proven expertise in internal and external communications, I have worked with numerous clients through my online business, creating pitch presentations and managing two brand websites, alongside three social media accounts.”

Here, you’ve shown your interpersonal and leadership skills. You’ve also shown you’re a great collaborator with an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to take initiative.

Employers want people who can come in and hit the ground running. So with a cover letter like this, your application is set to make it to the top of the pile.

Want to set yourself up for success in any future work experience application? Sign up to our FREE Career Coaching Course, a four-day virtual programme in October, to upskill yourself on CVs, applications and interviews.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are technical skills that you’ll need to carry out your job. These could be foreign language, mathematical or photo editing skills. Or content management system skills like WordPress (if you’re a writer). These skills can be taught through education and training. 

Here’s a bunch of hard skills per industry that’ll make you a stand-out candidate.

  • IT Microsoft Office Suite and Google Drive Suite, HTML, Javascript, CSS
  • Marketing – SEO, PPC, SEMrush, MailChimp, Google Analytics, A/B testing
  • Writing – Copywriting, email writing, report writing, storytelling, storyboarding 
  • Design – User experience (UX), Figma, Sketch, InDesign, Photoshop, Final Cut
  • Web Development – Android/IOS app development, web architecture
  • Network Security –  Encryption algorithms, virus protection, cryptography.

How to demonstrate hard skills in your cover letter

To create a convincing cover letter, you’ll want to focus on hard skills that are relevant to the role. Sending out multiple applications? Make sure you tailor your cover letter to maximise your chances of bagging an interview.

Employers want to know why you want to work for them specifically. To find out what hard skills a company is looking for, study the job description. Hard skills are necessary for a job. So recruiters will definitely advertise them in the ‘Requirements’ section.

Imagine you’re going for a video editor role. Here’s the sort of thing you should write…

“As a video editor with over two years of experience, I strive to deliver high-quality content that exceeds client expectations. My proficiency in industry-specific software such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro, together with my understanding of motion graphics, audio mixing and colour grading, makes me an excellent addition to your team.” 

Here, you’ve demonstrated your passion for video and proven you’re super skilled to do your role. This is an asset for an employer. And gives you serious brownie points.

To bump up your chances of getting a job, you’ll need a mixture of soft skills vs hard skills. If you’re lacking in one of these, now’s the time to brush them up.

So there you have it – a crash course on how to *wow* recruiters and land your dream job.

Only one thing left – to put it all into practice. You can do this!