What Is the Difference Between Hard Skills and Soft Skills? - Penn-Mar

What Is the Difference Between Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

Posted on March 15, 2022

When building a resume and preparing for job interviews, there are many different factors to consider. Your education level is important. So is your previous work experience. References are crucial; not to mention the interview itself. But, there are two other very important things that many jobs require and you should always highlight on your resume: hard and soft skills. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between hard skills and soft skills, what they are, and why both are essential to qualifying for a job.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Hard skills and soft skills are often mentioned together, as well as being compared to one another. But what exactly are they and why are they important? Generally, hard skills are an employee’s ability to perform certain, often technical tasks, and soft skills are more about the way an employee completes those tasks. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of hard skills and soft skills.

What Are Hard Skills?

As mentioned, hard skills are an employee’s ability to perform a certain task. That ability often requires technical knowledge or training. This involves specialized information that you’ve acquired during the course of your life, including that from education or other work experience.

Hard skills are easier to define and measure than soft skills. Since they are specific and require certain knowledge, it is easier to gauge whether a candidate possesses the skills or not, as well as understanding how proficient they are. Here is a list of hard skills to give you a better understanding of what they are:

  • Database management
  • Being bilingual or multilingual
  • Medical record management
  • Data entry
  • HIPAA knowledge
  • CPR and First Aid
  • Licenses, like nurse and RN licenses
  • Urgent care
  • Pharmacy skills
  • Analyzing patient data
  • Inbound and outbound calling
  • Knowledge of Microsoft applications, like Outlook and Excel
  • Business administration
  • Patient scheduling
  • Medical billing and coding
  • Blood draws, injections, and patient vitals
  • Ancillary testing
  • Medical office management

As you can see, hard skills involve tasks that are very detailed, precise, and only gained through training or education. Now that we know what hard skills are, let’s see how they compare to soft skills.

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are more about the way an employee completes their tasks—which often require hard skills—and include things like thinking, behavior, cognitive skills, and personal traits. These skills are less about a specific knowledge or ability to do a unique task, and more about how an employee performs their job overall, understands things, solves problems, works with others, and more. Here is a list of soft skills that most companies are looking for in employees:

  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Teamwork
  • Punctuality
  • Critical thinking
  • Social skills
  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Adaptability
  • Willingness to learn
  • Friendliness
  • Integrity
  • Open-mindedness
  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Problem-solving
  • Dependability

In a study focusing on the most common areas of missing soft skills, 37% of HR professionals reported a lack of problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity. 32% said the ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity. 31% reported communication. These statistics show just how important soft skills are when searching for a job and the specific skills that employers are looking for most.

Now that we’ve learned more about soft skills, how exactly do they stack up to hard skills? Is one type of skill more important than the other?

Are Hard Skills or Soft Skills More Important?

Both soft and hard skills are incredibly useful—and often necessary—in making it through the interview process and landing a job. However, is one type of skill more important than the other? That tends to depend on the specific job and what is required of it, but companies generally value soft skills more than hard skills. In fact, recruiters say that 89% of hires that don’t work out are due to a lack of soft skills

However, that doesn’t mean that hard skills don’t matter. Many jobs require certain hard skills to be hired. For example, you couldn’t be a computer programmer if you weren’t trained in a certain programming language. Hard skills are absolutely necessary to complete certain types of work.

But, even with the detailed technical knowledge that is required for that work, employees also need to possess soft skills to complete that work. This is especially important when working with others or on a team. Overall, both hard skills and soft skills are necessary for employees to be successful and advance in their careers.

Penn-Mar Human Services’ mission is to support people to live courageously in pursuit of their best life. Our approach is innovative, person-centered, and successful. Through meaningful employment, community inclusion, and residential choice, the people Penn-Mar supports are empowered to live their best lives.

If you’re interested in a human services career and want to make a difference in the lives of others, consider filling out an application to join our team! We offer a wide range of employee benefits and competitive compensation. You can also get involved by learning more about our services, making a donation, or signing up to volunteer with us today!

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