To advance in your career, you’ll always need to grow and push yourself. This means constantlyt learning new things, evolving as a person, building new qualities, and focusing on your skills. Even if you might have already started this growth process, you might be focusing solely on soft skills. However, the picture isn’t completed until you also develop the right hard skills.
In this article, we’ll cover what exactly hard skills are, how they are different from soft skills, and what hard skills you should consider adding to your resume in order to get to the next level of your career.
What Are Hard Skills?
To advance your career, you first have to ask, "What are hard skills?"
Hard skills are abilities that can be clearly defined and easily quantified.
Usually, they are required for a job or university and are stated as "necessary" when applying. Every aspiring worker should explore the necessary hard skills in their industry and be able to mention them in their resume.
You learn some primary hard skills at school. The most basic examples of hard skills are writing and math. Add to these typing, accounting, language learning, researching, project management, and more.
The good news is that all of these skills are learnable at any age and can easily be added to your expertise.
It’s important, though, to differentiate between hard and soft skills, so that you can make the best of both worlds. Let’s explore what the differences are.
The Difference Between Hard And Soft Skills
Hard skills are the abilities that can be measured and defined. Soft skills, on the other hand, are more like personal attributes — they affect your relationships with others and are non-technical.
Soft skills matter, as well, because when choosing between two promising candidates who have the same hard skills in their resume, an employer will look further. In this case, he’ll assess how they communicate, how emotionally intelligent they are, how they go about problem solving, their behavior in a team setting, how they resolve conflict, their attitude, their initiative, etc. All of these are soft skills, and are considered a great addition to hard skills.
Companies usually require that you verify hard skills through course completion, a diploma, or special training. Some are taught at school, but may require futher research in order to get familiar with all the various aspects of the topic.
Hard skills are teachable, which makes them accessible to anyone determined to invest the time in developing them.
Soft skills, however, will require building the right habits, having self-control, being patient and assertive, letting your creative juices flow, being able to look at things from a different perspective, and adapting easily to the working environment — these are hard to acquire, and even harder to change.
For best results, and to land the highest-paying jobs, you’ll need the right combination of hard and soft skills.
For now, let’s move onto the exact hard skills you should focus on to climb the career ladder.
The Top Hard Skills To Have
1. Computer Skills
Regardless of what field of work you’re in and how non tech-savvy you consider yourself, computer knowledge is always one of the top hard skills. The more you improve your computer skills, the better off you’ll be.
Building your computer skills begins with the basics, such as a fast typing speed, knowing Microsoft Office (inside and out), and working with spreadsheets. Then you can add in great Web skills, such as email campaigns and social media.
You should also know how to manage files on the computer, create presentations, and how both software and hardware work (so that you can fix errors without any help).
2. Data management
Every business works with a ton of data. You’ll sometimes end up going through a lot of information, which means you'll need the ability to navigate through it and extract the essentials. You should also be able to analyze results, understand guidelines and definitions, review them, keep things up to date, and create reports.
Another thing you can add to your list of top hard skills is scheduling. Scheduling means deciding (and knowing) how to get the job done effectively, what tools to use, and how to organize your time. Even if you’re not a project manager, it’s still a key hard skill (and can be applied to any other area of life). If you can plan and schedule well at work, you’ll be able to manage your time (and life) better as a result.
4. Research skills
Research skills are something you’ll always need when preparing for a job, getting familiar with a new industry, gathering information, and making a plan on where to begin. Some helpful tips on how to become a better researcher can be found here.
5. Financial skills
There are a great number of hard skills in the finance category, these include: accounting, budgeting, financial planning, cash flow management, and much more. While you won’t necessarily need to master all these, you need to work well with numbers.
Where Can Hard Skills Take You?
Hard and soft skills together are an ideal combination. These skillsets ensure that you'll always know how to act according to the situation, communicate clearly, be a great team member, and solve problems easily. It’s the hard skills, however, that require specific knowledge and exercise your brain’s ability to learn.
Learning hard skills rewires the brain and makes us better prepared for what we’re about to experience once we start completing tasks.
In the beginning, when learning a new skill, you need all your focus and attention. However, with practice, your cells are changing and the activity will soon be done on autopilot. Over time, you'll be able to handle more and more projects at the same time.
All of your hard skills combined, with enough time to practice, can make you an invaluable asset to any company you apply for. Employers evaluate potential employees by their hard skills. Soft skills usually come later in the process of working together, and aren't noticed in the beginning. So, hard skills give you this great advantage!
In the video below, Mindvalley Founder Vishen Lakhiani will explain how your skillset has no expiration date, and just how easily you can learn to acquire the skills you need to succeed (it's easier than you may think)!
What are your hard skills? What new ones would you like to add in order to advance in your field? Let us know in the comment section below.