Every role requires a mixture of hard and soft skills, and for businesses looking to make smart investments in their staff, it’s important to understand the two. In this guide, we explore what the terms mean, the differences between hard and soft skills and examples of each.

Hard skills versus soft skills

It’s crucial that employees are given the opportunity to develop both their hard and soft skills to optimise both employee retention and business growth. Still, while they are mutually beneficial, there are key differences between the two that need to be understood before any decisions are made.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are broad, transferrable attributes focused on the ways we overcome challenges and interact with both other people and the world around us. Despite having a reputation for being difficult to quantify and prove, they are key to successfully navigating and succeeding in the workplace – every workplace, given they are not role or industry-specific.

Proficiency in soft skills is the product of a huge array of work and life experiences, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot or should not be improved through training.

Skills such as collaboration, leadership, problem-solving and self-management can all be enhanced with soft skills training, offering a range of benefits for employers that decide to invest.

For instance, compared to a team with poor soft skills, a team comprised of individuals with highly developed soft skills may require less day-to-day oversight while still producing a greater volume of higher-quality work.

Examples of soft skills

There are countless soft skills – according to LinkedIn, over 50,000 in all. Here are some of the most sought-after:

  • Creativity
  • Persuasiveness
  • Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Time management
  • Empathy
  • Leadership
  • Positivity
  • Work ethic
  • Teamwork

Want to know more about soft skills? Learn why soft skills are important for businesses, or view a list of the most desirable soft skills for professionals.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are easily quantified skills specific to a task or subject. They are usually taught via dedicated training programmes, expressed as qualifications and required for entry into or advancement within many careers.

With a solid, continually improving understanding of their necessary hard skills, workforces are well-equipped to complete tasks and overcome challenges in the most efficient manner possible. They can keep ahead of the competition, quickly respond to the needs of clients and provide high-quality products and services that aid customer retention.

Languages – all hard skills – can be crucial to expanding abroad.

By investing in a team’s hard skills, a business can be confident in its market position and ability to expand and ensure its profitability – learn more about using soft skills training to make your organization more profitable.

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Examples of hard skills

There are many hard skills, covering every industry, niche and specialism. Here are some examples:

  • Language skills
  • People management
  • Business analytics
  • Cloud computing
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Translation
  • Video production
  • Digital marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Software testing

Soft skills and hard skills are mutually beneficial. Soft skills such as communication and work ethic help individuals learn role-specific hard skills, then apply them in the most effective way. Conversely, without hard skills, even individuals with the most well-developed soft skills may find it difficult to contribute to projects, put their ideas into practice or advance their careers. 

Further reading

Why Google Believes Soft Skills Are No Longer a Soft Option

7 ways soft skills training makes your organization more profitable

Explore Learnlight’s approach to soft skills training, request a demo of the Learnlight 11 platform or contact our team if you have a query.