Hard and soft skills: what are they and what is their importance in the job market?

Anyone who is already in the modern job market may often have asked the following question: why so many selection steps? With, normally, two interviews and more than 3 tests, most vacancies in different sectors of the market require the evaluation of two different aspects of the candidates: soft skills and hard skills.

For this reason, the processes can extend and present more than the simple evaluation of the curriculum and interview with the recruiter. Professionals who are fully aware of their skills can get ahead of other candidates, simply by understanding the reasons for the stages and how to prepare for them. 

What are the skills?

“Skill” is a word that comes from English and can be translated as “ability”. People management professionals are used to the terms and know very well the difference between one and the other. Both are used for candidate evaluation in different spheres. 

Hard skills are often analyzed through resume assessment and technical tests, while soft skills are best evaluated during interviews and cultural fits or personality tests. 

What are hard skills

These skills are those that can be easily measured. They involve knowledge acquired in graduation, courses, workshops and the like. Usually, the evaluator can get a complete sense of the candidate's hard skills just by looking at his resume. This is because they are often associated with official means of acquisition.

Video editing, script writing, database maintenance, customer service, report production… These are all clear examples. Hard skills are acquired, for the most part, in professional training. They serve as a basis for assessing the skills of candidates in relation to the job offered.

In summary, hard skills are technical skills, easily assessed and commonly acquired through formal learning.

what are the soft skills?

These are a little harder to measure. They involve social skills, emotional intelligence, personality aspects, experience with communication and others. Soft skills are much more linked to the candidate's cognitive abilities and professional experience.

Proactivity, for example, is a skill that involves the drive to do more than just what is necessary. This is not the kind of thing you learn in a college or course, but rather in daily contact with other employees and throughout your professional life.

Resilience, honesty, emotional maturity, leadership, empathy, teamwork and flexibility are all examples of soft skills often sought after by recruiters. 

To assess an employee's soft skills, HR professionals often schedule interviews with different team members, request personality tests and the like.

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How important are soft and hard skills?

Both skill sets are extremely important in choosing the ideal candidate. In the best scenario, the professional should have as much of both sets as possible and present a harmonious balance between them. 

Hard skills will determine how prepared the future employee will be to fulfill his role within the company. Soft skills will tell you how well he will do within the company, its culture and work routine.

A collaborator who, for example, has above average skill in image editing, and can finish a complex piece in less than half an hour, will do very well, but not as much as a collaborator who has average skill, but knows how to work in a group and help your colleagues. 

The role of the recruiter is to evaluate both sets of skills in order to find the ideal candidate for the moment and the objectives of the company.

How to acquire hard skills?

It's simple: study and invest in your learning. College, postgraduate, master's, doctorate, courses, online classes, all are great sources for acquiring new hard skills. The candidate who wants to specialize and seeks to deepen his knowledge is already on the way to improving his hard skills.

As this skill set is the basis for assessments from the beginning of the job, it is easier to improve. 

How to acquire soft skills?

These are a little more difficult to acquire formally, but not impossible. There are already courses, training sessions and other didactic activities planned especially for the development of these skills. This is due to the fact that the market increasingly demands a balance between hard and soft.

Professionals who want to improve their soft skills, however, can start improving them day by day, observing their behaviors, making unusual decisions and making an active effort to develop them.

Health professionals can also help in this development, as well as coaches and other specialized trainers. In the case of emotional intelligence, for example, professionals who do cognitive-behavioral therapy can come out ahead. In the case of oratory development, those who visit experts from the faculty of speech therapy can quickly acquire competence.

The candidate who wants to develop their soft skills can still practice daily self-assessment. These skills are difficult to measure because they are intrinsically linked to spontaneous behavior. It's hard to pay attention, for example, to the way you talk to a co-worker.

For this reason, looking at one's own behavior critically is essential for the active development of soft skills.

For the vast majority of companies, large and small, soft skills are just as essential as hard skills. They determine how well the candidate will be prepared for the growth challenges that, nowadays, are many, frequent and intense.

The professional who wants to be successful in the search for a new job must pay attention to both sets of skills. Only the active search for balance can make the candidate prepared for all selection stages. And in an increasingly competitive job market, self-knowledge is valuable and sought after by many recruiters.