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As important as it is for you to include skills in your resume, it’s even more important to include the right type of skills. Unfortunately, many applicants fail to understand what employers need to see in their resumes. As a result, they often end up including only their hard technical skills. For best results, however, you need to include both soft skills and hard skills. But to do that effectively, you need to understand the difference between these two skill types.


Defining the Difference Between Soft Skills and Hard Skills

The easiest way to think about soft skills and hard skills is to focus on how they are acquired and used. By that metric, hard skills can be easily defined as skills that you acquire from training or education. They include all the most common technical skills that can be formally acquired, as well as on-the-job skills learned through direct hands-on experience.

We wrote a good post here on skills to include on your resume. 

Soft skills, on the other hand, are not so easy to measure. These skills tend to define how you deal with others, which is why they are often called “people skills.” Of course, that also makes them more difficult to describe in a resume. Obviously, anyone can say that they have a soft skill like great communication ability.

However, saying it doesn’t make it true, unlike a hard skill like computer programming that you can usually demonstrate by citing a degree or certification.


The difference between hard skills and soft skills


Examples of Soft Skills and Hard Skills

To get a better idea of the difference between soft skills and hard skills, consider these examples:

Soft skills can include a wide variety of interpersonal skills, as well as character attributes.

Examples of soft skills:

  • Great communication ability
  • Problem-solving
  • Sound work ethic
  • Time-management skills
  • Adaptability
  • Persuasion
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork


Hard skills are more concrete, verifiable skills.

Examples of Hard skills:

  • They include skills like:
  • Machine operation
  • Technical skills
  • Writing ability
  • Foreign language proficiency

…and any other technical skill that is backed by verifiable educational credentials or past work experience.


Soft skills and hard skills 2


Do Employers Want to See Both Soft Skills and Hard Skills?

Now, here’s where it gets fun.

As fate would have it, most employers are interested in candidates with both soft skills and hard skills.

That means that you need to include examples of both in your resume.

You should however focus more on hard skills. (Do not list soft skills directly on your resume – More on that below)

Employers first want to see that you have the hard skills required for the position.

#1 – Closely examine the job posting and identify the needed skills and experience

#2 – Make sure you include them on your resume. A core competencies or skill section allows you to easily tailor your skills for each position. 


For example:


Hard skills on a resume


Also, remember that most companies today use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to automatically screen your resume. These systems automatically screen your resume to see if you’re a good match for the position.

Make sure that you use a standard resume format so that the ATS could easily read the resume. You should also include keywords (hard skills) that are relevant to the position.


ATS Resume Test 

You can see how your resume performs in an actual ATS scan with our Free Resume Review:

Free Resume Review


Be Cautious When Listing Soft Skills On Your Resume!

Hiring managers cringe when they see soft skills like “team player” or “results driven”

(We wrote a good post here on the top 15 resume buzzwords to avoid).

Soft skills should be communicated indirectly through your work experience. You were a team player? Great, mention an achievement in your work experience that shows you were a “team player”.

You can list a one or two soft skills but focus on highlighting hard skills required for the job.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s important to leverage every advantage you have. The good news is that your soft skills and hard skills can help to shape a resume that truly showcases your potential value to an employer. Used properly, they can energize your resume and land you more interviews and that great job you deserve.

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