Hard skills are objective, quantifiable skills gained through training, school, or work experiences. Hard skills are often usually something that can be taught or learned. For that reason, hard skills can typically be easily proven — you either know how to write code, or you don’t. You can use certifications, degrees, or licenses to demonstrate to potential employers that you have these skills.
Many hard skills are technical and highly sought after. In fact, a 2022 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that 64.9% of companies are looking for technical skills on students’ resumes. Employers want to see relevant and quantifiable skills, like copywriting, user interface design, or proficiency in a second language.
Types of Hard Skills
Most technical skills involve knowing how to use a specific software or equipment. Technical skills are often needed for jobs that deal with information technology, engineering, and science, but hard technical skills can come in handy in a variety of positions.
Examples of technical skills include:
- Computer-aided design (CAD)
- Regression analysis and modeling
- Customer relationship management (CRM) programs
- Network administration
- Technical troubleshooting
- Point of sale programs
- User interface (UI) design
- Artificial intelligence
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Gathering and analyzing data is the core function of many analytical skills. Being able to accurately understand and draw conclusions from data is an important skill for many workplaces.
Examples of analytical skills include:
- Data mining
- Database management
- Web analytics
- System Information for Windows (SIW)
- Data presentation and visualization
- Google Analytics
- Structured Query Language (SQL or Sequel)
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Knowing how to use a computer efficiently is a vital part of many modern workplaces. However, computer skills is an umbrella term that can include everything from basic computer literacy to being able to code or program computers.
Examples of computer skills are:
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Google Suite programs
- Social media
- Antivirus programs
- Web browsers, like Firefox, Chrome, and Safari
- Adobe PDF reader
Hard skills for marketing may include specific programs and platforms needed to track or create various marketing materials. Marketing skills can also involve being able to communicate effectively in writing, though.
Examples of marketing skills include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- A/B testing
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- User experience (UX) design
- Press release writing
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Communication skills involve being able to effectively show and tell information and ideas to others. This can be as simple as writing professional emails to colleagues or as intricate as creating graphs and images to explain specific concepts.
Examples of communication skills include:
- Foreign languages
- Translation and transliteration
- Graphic design
- Data visualization
- Excel for graphs and models
- Adobe InDesign
Business and Management Skills
Business and management skills are specific abilities needed to run and regulate a business setting. Hard skills for business and management may involve being able to use certain programs, such as Quickbooks or ADP, to ensure the business runs smoothly.
Examples of business and management skills include:
- Project management
- Payroll programs
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There are endless examples of hard skills. Essentially, if it is something you can learn and can prove your expertise in, it is probably a hard skill. Some are very specific to certain industries, though. For example, being able to cut hair is a hard skill for hairstylists and being able to run an X-ray machine is a hard skill for a radiologist.
Some other examples of hard skills are:
- Proposal writing
- Content management systems
- Adobe Creative Suite
- Print design
- Physical therapy
- Automotive technology
- Electric engineering
- Wireless broadcasting systems
- Trade Ideas
- Human Resources Information System (HRIS)
How to Showcase Your Hard Skills
Your resume and cover letter are the best places to show off your skills.
“When it comes to featuring hard skills in your resume, make sure you don’t just dump the terms in your Skills section and call it a day,” Daniel Lorenzo, Marketing Director at Let’s Eat, Grandma, says. “You need to provide clear evidence that you have used that skill to achieve results throughout your resume – mostly in your bullet points and your summary.”
You can utilize the space in your cover letter to expand upon the key skills you mention in your resume.
“In a cover letter, you can weave your hard skills into a story or anecdote that also tells … why you’re an outstanding candidate,” says Dan Shortbridge, a resume writer and career coach and founder of Results Resumes. “For example, a welder can describe how they first became interested in welding and honed their skills creating items at their vocational-technical high school.”
Ultimately, employers want to see a mix of both hard skills and soft skills, and the difference between the two may not always be easy to define. Take communication for example: the ability to talk and interact with coworkers or clients professionally and effectively is typically considered a soft skill, but written communication is often labeled as a hard skill. People skills are not something you can typically be taught in a course or earn a certificate in, but writing skills are something that can be learned through school or training.
Showcasing both hard and soft skills in your resume and cover letter can help you prove to employers that you have the technical abilities to do the job as well as the interpersonal and organizational skills to work effectively within their company.
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