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Hard Skills vs Soft Skills: What’s the Difference? - HRDQ

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?

Employees are usually hired because they possess certain qualities that make them the right candidates for the job. For instance, perhaps you’re looking for an individual with social media experience, great communication skills, and proficiency with Adobe. This list represents both the hard skills and soft skills you’d like your new hire to have! But what exactly are hard skills and soft skills, and what’s the difference between the two? Learn everything you need to know, below.

HRDQ offers a fully customizable virtual soft skills training library, so you can provide specialized training content to your team no matter where they are. Explore the Reproducible Training Library.

What are Hard Skills?

Hard skills are abilities that are measurable and teachable. On a resume, you might find someone’s hard skills listed as “technical skills” or “technical abilities.”

Some examples of hard skills include:

  • Proficiency with Microsoft products
  • Data analysis
  • Ability to speak a foreign language
  • Event planning
  • Project management

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are traits that an employee possesses that contribute to their success at their job. Although soft skills are part of an individual’s personality, they can still be taught. However, they cannot be concretely measured.

Some examples of soft skills include:

Do My Employees Need Both Hard and Soft Skills?

Yes, it’s crucial that your employees possess both hard and soft skills in order to excel at their jobs! You might be wondering why soft skills are so necessary for a successful career. To get a better understanding as to why both hard and soft skills matter in the workplace, let’s take a look at a few examples.

Suppose you’re looking to hire a salesperson. In this case, you likely want the employee to have certain hard skills such as proficiency in PowerPoint, knowledge of the industry, and ability to generate sales reports. However, certain soft skills are also imperative for a salespersons’ success, such as great communication skills, ability to persuade, customer service skills, and possessing strong emotional intelligence in order to read people.

As another example, imagine you’re looking for a new project manager. In addition to having hard skills such as risk management, budgeting, scheduling, and performance analysis, you might also seek someone with soft skills such as innovation, decision-making, leadership, and problem-solving.

The fact is, whenever there is human interaction, soft skills are necessary. Nearly every job requires relationships to be formed with coworkers and/or clients in some capacity, be it virtually or face-to-face. Having the tools to smoothly navigate interactions is what allows us to reach our desired goals. Without soft skills, conflict would constantly arise, ideas would be miscommunicated, and work would not get done efficiently.

Benefits of Soft Skills Training

There are so many benefits to training your employees in pertinent soft skills. The following are some of the top advantages companies have seen in utilizing soft skills training:

  • Improved employee retention rates. When you commit to employee growth and invest in their careers, it indicates to your team members that they have potential within the company. This provides an incentive to stay with the company and continue to advance their career with you.
  • Improved customer satisfaction. Soft skills training teaches employees how to closely listen to customer needs and effectively communicate with them. Because of this, your customer satisfaction will likely improve.
  • Improved teamwork. When your team is equipped with the right soft skills, they’re able to easily resolve and eliminate internal conflicts. This ensures they’re able to work together more smoothly and efficiently.
  • Boosted productivity. Certain soft skills such as decision-making and problem-solving help complex issues get resolved more quickly, hence increasing productivity.
  • Increased sales. Each of the above benefits contributes to increased sales for your business! When your employees are adequately trained to perform to the best of their abilities, you’ll likely see more profit.

Start Virtual Training with HRDQ

We hope you now know the difference between hard skills and soft skills. As you can see, it’s important to train your team in both types of skills so that they can reach their maximum potential. If you’re ready to equip your team with the skills they need to succeed, get started with HRDQ today. Our live, instructor-led virtual training allows your employees to complete sessions and workshops no matter where they are. If you’re ready to experience the power of online training, view our virtual classes to get started!

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.