In today's job market, it's not only about what you know — it's also about what you can do. And what you can do is determined by the hard skills you possess. In the workplace, tangible results stem from tangible skills.
Let's explore what hard skills are, why they're important, and how you can develop them. We'll also provide you with a comprehensive list of hard skills that you can list on your resume. Whether you're a fresh graduate or a seasoned job seeker, this article will help you identify, understand, and improve your hard skills to achieve your career goals and impress hiring managers.
Hard skills are job specific skills that comprise of technical knowledge and abilities that allow you to perform tasks in your specific field of expertise. They are often tangible and objective methods can be used to measure your proficiency in them.
If you're an accountant, your hard skills may include cost accounting, financial reporting, and tax preparation. On the other hand, a job in the information technology (IT) industry may require hard skills like web development, software development, coding and network administration.
Soft skills refer to personal traits that allow people to effectively interact with others in social situations. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are not quantifiable. Examples of soft skills are communication and interpersonal skills.
Take note that some soft skills can become hard skills. For example, communication can be a hard skill when it is heavily informed by technical knowledge.
These days, many valuable skills combine hard and soft skills. Take content writing — to be good at it, you must develop soft skills such as attention to detail and persuasion. But you also need hard skills ranging from language mastery to search engine optimization (SEO).
Hard skills and soft skills complement each other. Hard skills define what you can do. Soft skills define how you can do something. If you want to stay ahead of the curve in your field, develop both.
Imagine a hospital where the medical staff doesn't have proper medical knowledge and experience. Will you seek treatment there? Of course not. Legally speaking, it's not a hospital. It's even dangerous.
A company can't run smoothly without employees who have effective and necessary hard skills. They're what daily business operations rely on. From patient care to healthcare administration, medical hard skills enable hospital employees to guarantee that their services comply with industry standards. Excellent hard skills ensure that work tasks are not only done but done right.
Hard skills are also important in improving your career. Since they objectively demonstrate your competence and expertise in your field, the hard skills you possess show your employability.
Lawmaker and economist Joey Salceda — citing recent Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data on employment in the country — says that hard skills “suffered” during the pandemic. For Salceda, the loss of jobs in many skilled professions signifies a decline in hard skills among job seekers.
JobStreet Philippines Country Manager Philip Gioca offers a silver lining. “We're expecting more job opportunities [in 2023], especially now that things are going back to normal and going more digital,” he says.
“Likewise,” Gioca goes on, “competition among talents is tougher, so job seekers are encouraged to learn new skills and tools.” Developing hard skills is more important than ever.
You can acquire hard skills through formal education. You may also need to be certified through standardized assessments, like licensure examinations. In the Philippines, practicing regulated professions like law and civil engineering requires a college degree and a license.
Still, there remains a wide variety of hard skills that you can develop through self-learning. For example, you can learn programming and graphic design via free and paid online resources, at your own pace and on your own time.
No matter what discipline you belong to, developing hard skills is a conscious and consistent effort to learn and apply new knowledge and techniques. Start your journey by following these steps:
The first step in developing hard skills is to determine the most in-demand skills in the job market. If you want to be successful in your industry, what are the skills you have to learn?
In particular, you must:
Scientific studies prove that setting goals is linked to increased performance, persistence, and motivation. Once you've identified the hard skills you want to learn, the next step is setting your skill development goals.
Goal setting is in itself a skill, and there are ways to do it:
So, you already have a SMART goal for your skill development. It's time to decide where and how you can learn that skill. You can:
Now, learn by doing. Deliberate practice definitely helps, but you also need to:
Feedback is a crucial tool that will help you identify areas for improvement. One advantage of hard skills over soft skills is that they can be reliably assessed. To receive an objective evaluation, you must:
Listed below are industry-specific hard skills that you may put on your resume.
Some hard skills may be useful in two or more professions. A data analyst with storytelling skills will be able to communicate complex information clearly and compellingly. Likewise, a writer with a sales and marketing background has an edge over other writers who don't have that background or experience.
Specific hard skills can enhance your pre-existing skills even if they're not traditionally related to your line of work. Consider learning them to increase your chances of success in your career.
Communication skills refer to your ability to convey information clearly and efficiently. These skills are beneficial in both your professional and personal life. Developing them will greatly increase your employability as they're among the most sought-after skills in the job market today. Effective communication in the workplace also contributes to an enhanced sense of trust and commitment among employees. In your personal life, open communication with loved ones can alleviate mental health issues and can lead to better relationships.
Digital skills refer to a range of abilities that employ digital technologies to access, manage, and communicate information. Regardless of industry, these skills have become increasingly important in today's digitally driven world.
Digital proficiency also allows you to effectively use conferencing platforms (e.g., Zoom) and cloud-based collaboration applications (e.g., Google Workspace) to stay connected and work together with your colleagues. These benefits will help boost productivity, communication, and teamwork in the workplace.
Traditionally, sales and marketing are separate skills. The former pertains to the selling of products and services, and the latter to their promotion. In modern practice, though, successful businesses merge their sales and marketing efforts and goals. This is called sales and marketing alignment.
When combined, sales and marketing skills can result in more creative marketing strategies. A sales representative with strong sales and marketing skills can persuasively communicate the value of their product. This can lead to increased revenue, brand awareness, and customer engagement and retention.
If you can analyze and manage financial data, then you have financial skills. These required skills will jump-start your career as a financial analyst, financial accountant, or financial manager. Entrepreneurs can use financial skills to create and implement financial strategies that will ensure long-term stability for their company.
Even if you're not running a business, these transferable skills can be useful as they aid you in handling your personal finances. They will also help you spot and avoid financial scams.
With analytical skills, you can gather, interpret, and draw meaningful conclusions from complex data. These days, businesses make data-driven decisions, and this is where your analytical skills will come in handy.
Basically, analytical skills are problem-solving skills. For example, with strong analytical skills, you can identify potential solutions to your company's decreased Facebook engagement. You can also back these solutions with recent data on social media algorithms.
Healthcare skills allow you to provide high-quality medical care to patients. These skills cover the practice of accurate clinical knowledge, as well as the display of virtues such as empathy and compassion.
Healthcare professionals deal directly with their client's health and well-being. Physicians with expert healthcare skills can accurately diagnose and cure sick people, helping them recover from illnesses. They can also provide ample emotional support to their patients. Healthcare skills ensure that patients are treated appropriately and with dignity.
With engineering and construction skills, you can design, build, and maintain structures and systems for private and public use. These transferable skills are founded on theories and principles in mathematics, physics, and other sciences. Engineering and construction skills can also incorporate digital design technologies and project management.
A civil engineer oversees the development of critical infrastructure, such as public roads and power utilities, so they meet the needs of the community. To reduce negative impacts on the environment, an engineer may also design eco-friendly and sustainable buildings.
Legal skills pertain to the practice of law and the provision of legal services. Whether you're a lawyer, a paralegal, or a legal secretary, you're required to have a comprehensive knowledge of laws and legal procedures. In legal practice, solid writing and negotiation skills are also essential.
The benefits of legal skills extend from private individuals to the general public. Defense attorneys can prepare legal briefs and represent their clients in court. Legal advocates can fight for the rights of the underprivileged. Legal skills keep fairness and justice within the legal system, and they can also advance social change.
As a project manager, your job skills include the ability to plan, organize, and oversee the progress and completion of a project. Strong project management skills ensure the efficient proceedings and overall success of a project in any industry.
Let's say you're managing a brand campaign. It's falling behind schedule and going over budget. Your task as a project manager is to take proper action: you may realign advertising costs and adjust timelines. Your decisions will help your team accomplish the project on time, within budget, and to the desired quality.
Manufacturing and production skills refer to the abilities needed to effectively design, implement, and supervise the production of goods and services. These skills are essential in factories ranging from local personalized craft businesses to international car companies.
In a pharmaceutical firm, a production supervisor secures the quality and safety of their medicines. Likewise, in a cannery, a quality control inspector monitors production processes to make sure their canned goods meet food standards. In both cases, manufacturing and production skills protect the health of the consumers.
Leadership refers to the ability to influence and guide others toward a common goal. This soft skill is necessary for leaders such as those in managerial roles, but leadership qualities are crucial for all employees because they foster initiative.
A landmark Harvard study states that leadership has a direct impact on workplace atmosphere and overall financial performance. A manager who recognizes and rewards employees for their good performance can increase both their morale and productivity. In an ever-changing business environment, a good sales head can inspire their team to adapt and thrive.
Here are some common obstacles you might encounter as you begin to develop or strengthen your hard skills, as well as some tips to encourage you.
You may not have the money to pursue further education. Perhaps your company only has limited access to training materials.
Tip: seek alternative resources and support. Join professional associations to build your network. Be active on online forums related to your industry to discover training opportunities for job specific abilities. Follow university websites and social media pages to be informed about the scholarships and grants they offer. If you find something you're interested in, apply!
You want to apply for a scholarship or job ad, but you're afraid you'll get rejected. Or your boss offers you a promotion, but you're doubtful that you can meet the demands of the new role and lack relevant skills. This fear is normal, but it can hold you back.
Tip: cultivate a growth mindset. Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and you can move on from it. Start by taking small risks, and pursue progress over perfection. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small. Remember: growth happens outside your comfort zone.
You're juggling work and life responsibilities. How do you find time to develop your management skills?
Tip: manage your time and set your goals well. Dedicate time slots in your day or week for skill development. Beat procrastination using tried and tested methods. You may also break down your goals into smaller and more manageable tasks. Whenever possible, delegate tasks to create more time for learning.
If you've been in the same role or industry for a long time, handling change can be overwhelming. But according to aFrontiers in Psychologystudy, an organization's “ ability to introduce a successful change ” contributes to its “survival and sustenance.” Resistance to change is the enemy of progress.
Tip: embrace change. Try to be open to new ideas and technologies, even foreign languages. Challenge yourself to actively seek out new experiences and perspectives. This will broaden your worldview and will keep you abreast of trends in your industry.
Suffering from negative thinking and impostor syndrome? Although you're capable, self-doubt and lack of confidence can prevent you from taking action and undermine your growth.
Tip: practice self-compassion. While it's important to acknowledge your weaknesses, you have to focus on your strengths. You've already come a long way, haven't you? You may also surround yourself with like-minded and supportive people. They will give you encouragement and constructive feedback.
The next time you apply for a job, take note of the main requirements and job descriptions of the role and what would appeal to the hiring manager. While employers value soft skills, they still prioritize technical skills required when hiring. Why? Because hard skills ensure that you have the necessary technical know-how to meet the day-to-day demands of the job.
It's important to develop hard skills as these will determine your performance in the workplace and show professional development. In industries like healthcare and manufacturing or just about any job, your hard skills will even directly affect the safety and wellness of others.
Developing hard skills may not be easy. Time constraints and fear of failure may set you back, but you can overcome these challenges. Be SMART. Actively seek resources and support. Don't be so hard on yourself. Embrace change and growth.
Most importantly, take action! You'll miss 100% of the skills you don't try to develop. Go for it!
What are some examples of hard skills?
Hard skills are industry-specific knowledge and abilities. A particular job requires a particular set of skills. If you're a project manager, your hard skills may include project scheduling and resource allocation. If you're a plant supervisor, you may have quality control and inventory management skills.
How do I identify the hard skills needed for my job?
Review your job description, as it usually lists the hard skills you need. Another strategy is to research trends in your industry. This will inform you of the other skills and practices in your line of work. Learning them may give you an edge.
What are some resources for learning hard skills?
You can acquire hard skills by reading books and enrolling in formal classes. You can also find free lessons and workshops online, but seek only reputable ones. If you need to spend money on learning a new hard skill, treat it as an investment.
How long does it take to develop hard skills?
The amount of time it takes you to develop a hard skill depends on a lot of factors, such as the nature of the skill itself, your learning pace, and the time spent practicing the skill. Consistent practice can help, but acquiring a skill has less to do with quantity than quality.
How can I measure my progress in developing hard skills?
You can track your progress in developing a hard skill by breaking your long-term goal into short-term ones. Use SMART goals. Manage your time and expectations well. Learn the skill step by step, and reward yourself after each accomplishment. This way, not only are you tracking your progress, but you're also keeping yourself motivated.
Update your skills on your JobStreet profile now. For more insightful tips, visit JobStreet's Career Advice or try our Career Tools for resume templates and more. Download the JobStreet app on Google Play or the App Store.