There are a variety of both hard and soft skills employers are looking for when selecting a new employee to fill a vacant position. Each employer will look for a unique set of skills for potential employees depending on the specific job and organizational needs. Because skills needed tend to vary so much from one position to the next, it is essential to take steps to identify the specific skills necessary when applying for a position.
Hard Skills Defined
Hard skills are those skills that are specific to a particular career field or job. For example, a carpenter must have skills associated with building, such as measuring and cutting wood and handling a hammer or nail gun, while a computer programmer must maintain the skills necessary to write computer programs. The hard skills needed for a particular position are also likely to vary a great deal from one position to the next, and may also vary between jobs within the same career field. For example, a computer programming position may require specific application, system, database or HTML skills depending on the specific position.
Exhibiting Hard Skills
Hard skills are easily quantified and may be validated to the potential employer on a resume. For example, many hard skills are developed through specific training and education. The possession of these skills and training may be demonstrated simply by listing education programs attended or licenses obtained. For example, an accountant might list a CPA license on the resume to demonstrate that she has obtained at least the minimum level of accounting skills required to pass the CPA exam.
Soft Skills Defined
Soft skills are those skills and personal traits which may be useful for any job candidate, no matter what the career field. Soft skills can be difficult to quantify on a resume. However, the cover letter provides an excellent opportunity to showcase some of these skills. It is essential to include soft skills in the resume and cover letter as well as touch on the top skills within both the cover letter and the job interview.
Top Soft Skills
Kate Lorenz of AOL jobs has identified 10 top soft skills that should be utilized by job hunters. These include a strong work ethic, positive attitude, good communication, time management, problem solving skills, self-confidence, flexibility or adaptability, the ability to act as a team player and to accept criticism, and the ability to work well under pressure. Potential job candidates should arrive at the interview armed with examples of past workplace experiences in which they have exhibited the most essential soft skills employers are looking for.