Why Successful Businesses Put an Emphasis on Both Hard and Soft Employee Skills, by Jori Hamilton
There’s a lot of truth to the saying that hard skills get you the interview while soft skills get you the job. While the old adage is often touted in reference to the job hunt, its impact goes far beyond the recruitment world.
To find profitable and sustained success, businesses must consistently consider both the hard and soft skills that their staff members possess. Here’s why…
The Importance of Hard Skills in Business
Hard skills are, in their essence, abilities that can be learned and enhanced via education, practice, and repetition. The easily definable nature of hard skills tends to make them easy to identify and, thus, prioritize.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for an accountant to do your company’s taxes, a web developer to work on your website, or a teenager to bus tables in your restaurant, hard skills are a critical factor, particularly when it comes to doing the work itself. Hard skills provide a clear blueprint to help you identify, recruit, and develop the right employees for each position in your company.
Hard Skills in the Hiring Process
When it comes to the hiring process, job descriptions are often underpinned with a list of desired hard skills that are typically requirements for executing the job itself.
Hard skills are also highly emphasized on resumes. Including a hard-skills section allows candidates to demonstrate acquired skills like working machinery or running software. Education sections highlight specific degrees and certifications that particularly qualify a candidate for a position as well.
From both the recruiter and the candidate’s point of view, hard skills are an essential part of the hiring process. They help organize the job hunt and expedite the task of figuring out who is actually qualified to work in a position. Their value doesn’t stop there, though.
Hard Skills on the Job
Once an employee is hired, their hard skills are put to the test. Claims that they have made on paper must now be put into action in the workplace.
In addition, hard skills are often one of the primary motivators behind the modern focus on continual learning. Whether it’s through group learning sessions, hiring tutors, or using online solutions like Total Training, there are many ways that employers can continue to develop their employees’ hard skills.
This has multiple positive effects that can impact a business’s success. For instance, the prospect of continual professional development and the perpetual honing of one’s hard skills are alluring perks that attract high-quality talent. On top of that, the ability to remain effective, efficient, and productive in the ever-evolving, tech-driven 21st century business world requires constant hard-skill development.
Hard skills are the clear-cut and definitive aspects of professional activity. The ability (or lack thereof) to conduct specific hard-skill activities, like working with a piece of marketing software or analyzing business data, is essential to conducting business.
The Importance of Soft Skills in Business
While hard skills are essential, if the individuals with these hard skills are unable to work with those around them, it can be detrimental to your organization’s success. This is where soft skills come into play.
Soft skills refer to the way that individuals operate. This tends to emphasize personal attributes such as time management, communication, and teamwork. Again, soft skills are an instrumental part of both the hiring process as well as working on the job.
Soft Skills in the Hiring Process
When an employer is interviewing employees, they aren’t just trying to fill an empty seat. They are looking for quality individuals who can execute the hard-skill aspects of the job position while also fitting in well in the company’s culture.
Cultural fit is a crucial aspect of the hiring process — and it’s an area where soft skills shine the brightest. It’s often easy to find a plethora of candidates who claim to have similar hard skills required to work in a certain position. However, considering each individual’s ability to work as a team member or communicate well within an organization can enable recruiters to narrow down a pool of candidates. They can quickly spot individuals who will be a valuable addition to the team, not just because of their current hard skills but because of how their personality fits into their company’s values, ethics, and overall vibe.
Soft Skills on the Job
Once on the job, soft skills continue to be a requisite part of success. If an employee is going to be an effective part of a business, they must possess the ability to communicate. In addition, if managers and other leaders have good interpersonal skills, it can make it much easier to delegate responsibilities, understand what employees need to do their jobs well, and provide them with effective feedback.
Even when it comes to maintaining growth and developing and retaining talent, many of the areas of professional development hinge on soft skills. For instance, in the remote-work-heavy, post-COVID-19 era, soft skills like time management, problem-solving, and adaptability can make or break the productivity of a work-from-home situation.
Bringing Hard and Soft Skills Together
Hard and soft skills are both critical ingredients for success. This isn’t just a one-off statement. It’s recognized by professionals and leaders everywhere. In the words of Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D., “Both soft and hard skills are essential for organizations to achieve their goals and objectives.”
Hard skills equip employees with the ability to execute their jobs in the present and, when developed, help them maintain their professional relevance in the future. Soft skills enable employees to work as part of a team as well as operate individually and generally thrive within a company’s culture.
By focusing on both hard and soft skills together, businesses can benefit by developing a talented and highly effective staff that will cooperate to overcome challenges and strive for success far into the future.
About the Author: Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, marketing strategies, employee training and engagement, and web development. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter.