In any career-readiness course, resume workshop, or even everyday professional conversation, you have probably heard the comparison between “hard” and “soft” skills. Each industry and employer seeks out different skills & experience in an ideal applicant, and these are most often boiled down to “hard” and “soft” skills.
So first off, what exactly do these terms mean? Well a hard skill is typically categorized as ‘a skill that one can learn and develop through education and training’. Examples of hard skills would be language learning, coding, or writing – anyone can learn these, but you will need lots of practice before you can be considered an expert.
On the other hand, soft skills are better characterized as ‘personality traits and relate more to social and emotional intelligence’. These are not as much about knowledge and learning, but rather behavior that you exhibit in various circumstances. Examples of soft skills include open-mindedness, dependability, and problem solving.
There are many examples of hard and soft skills that would help a person in their career, and many (especially hard skills) will depend on the type of industry you want to work in and how well you should aim to hone that particular skill. In this blog, we are going to focus on the top 5 hard skills that we believe will stand out to employers in 2020.
5 Hard Skills That Will Stand Out To Employers
In 2020, pretty much any hard skill you can think of can be learned by anyone, especially with the help of the internet. Want to learn how to code in Python, or how to speak Arabic? There are probably millions of YouTube videos, online courses, and step-by-step guides that could make you an expert in most skills – with enough practice of course. In learning hard skills, a key factor is motivation and dedication to continue learning, even if frustration occurs.
Language skills are very unique in that they can help you in pretty much any field. From actual career application, to everyday usefulness, learning another language can be a fun and challenging way to improve your communication. Not to mention, some career positions, such as in international relations, education, sales, and international business often require dual-language ability for entry-level positions.
The language(s) you choose to focus on are completely up to you, but it is true that some languages may be more useful to learn than others. Going strictly by the number of people who speak each language, the top languages you may consider learning for a business environment include Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, English, Arabic, Portuguese, and more!
With the internet offering many popular language learning sites, consider enrolling in some basic courses and see how well you do! There are many providers of online language learning, such as Cactus (who are based in the UK), that offer many different language courses at a variety of durations and price points! Depending on the time of year, many providers like Cactus often offer discount codes for enrolling, or allow for a free trial!
Writing is an essential job skill that spans most fields. This does not need to mean being able to write a full novel, and instead can refer to the simple skills of being able to compose a professional email, ensuring proper grammar, punctuation, and confidence in your writing.
For many people, writing does not come as naturally as it does to others which is why it is considered a hard skill. With practice, you can improve your writing – whether for emails, writing a financial report or a sales recap, editing an engineering manual, or brushing up your resume/CV! As with any hard skill, practice certainly makes perfect so the more you are able to work on your writing and composition, the better you will get!
Also, with the help of the internet, there are many computer programs that can help you with developing your writing skills. Free programs like Grammarly are installed into your internet browser and assist with finding mistakes in your writing, as well as help you sound more professional. Another great resource are your colleagues – if you are getting ready to send out a big memo to your entire department, it might be helpful to send it to a colleague first and have them look it over and give you feedback!
Have you ever been on a job project where you needed to create an eye-catching PDF flyer, website page, email template, or simply edit a photo? Basic graphic design skills can prove useful in various fields (along with personal life), and can be as simple as knowing your way around basic programs like Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Photoshop, and others! There are also many free online courses that can help with learning these programs, as well as learning how to design your own projects!
Graphic design is a skill where even just basic knowledge can go a long way in the business world. Unless you are working in the design industry, chances are you will not be working on massively complicated design projects, and will instead be able to get away with knowing how to design simple flyers, webpages, etc. However, as with any hard skill, the degree to which you need to master graphic design will depend on your field, job, and personal desire!
Understanding Blockchain, which is a relatively new field with the rise of cryptocurrency in the last decade, tends to be relevant to those in the finance, banking, and investment fields. Therefore, while some may consider it a niche skill and not feel a need to learn it, Blockchain skills are in incredibly high demand at the current time. As more and more business transactions are completed using cryptocurrency, this is a hard skill that is very likely to continue to grow in popularity and demand.
Sales is a very interesting area as it could be classified as both a hard and a soft skill. To be an effective sales person, whether in a retail store, car dealership, pharmaceutical company, or elsewhere, you need to employ an effective arsenal of both hard and soft skills.
Firstly, sales representatives have the often difficult task of persuading someone to purchase their product or services. In terms of soft skills, they often showcase excellent persuasion, charisma, and empathy.
In order to make someone interested enough to buy your product/service using the soft skills mentioned above, you must know your product/service inside and out. You must research your company’s history and understand the development of your product. You must be well-read regarding your competitors, current and projected future market trends, customer reviews including positive and negative feedback, and be ready to answer questions. Thus, this process of product research would be considered a hard skill, as it is learned and will take time to master.
Remember, since hard skills are developed through practice, anyone can learn them if they put the right amount of time and effort in! Try making a list of hard skills you want to develop and hone, and start learning!