There are two types of skills used in resumes: hard skills and soft skills. When used correctly, they work together to form a powerhouse resume that provides the hiring manager a glimpse into the job seeker.
What are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are taught skills. They are quantifiable and are often learned in school, through earned certifications, or in previous work experience. Hard skills are specific to each job and are often the basis of job requirements.
Recruiters look for hard skills on your resume to gauge how well you’d be able to perform job duties. Hard skills are especially important because of the applicant tracking systems (ATS) used by most large companies that rank and filter applications. Hard skills can also be considered “resume keywords,” which are words recruiters use to search for applicants. Each resume should use the exact hard skills found in the job description.
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are non-measurable, subjective skills that are not specific to one job or career. They typically speak to how well a person interacts with others. Soft skills are “people” skills.
These skills are personality traits that help define character but offer less proof of experience than hard skills. Soft skills revolve around teamwork, communication, and work ethic.
- Should you include a soft skills section on your resume?
- How to showcase your executive soft skills on your resume
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
A combination of hard skills and soft skills forms a well-rounded job applicant. While hard skills are quite different than soft skills, together, they create a good balance between hard knowledge and interpersonal attributes. Hard skills show mastery and proficiency while soft skills show communication and relational abilities.
For example, a software engineer may have the following skills on their resume:
They may also have the following soft skills on their resume:
- Superior time management
- Work well under pressure
This applicant’s hard skills demonstrate a very different, very specific competence compared to their soft skills. The balance of hard and soft skills is important. Hard skills help the applicant get past ATS while showing experience level and qualification for the position. Soft skills make the applicant human, showing leadership, empathy, and character.
Hard Skills List
Here are some examples of hard skills:
Tech Hard Skills:
- Data mining
- Data analysis
- SaaS in cloud
- Machine learning
Big Data Engineering:
- Apache Hadoop
- Apache Spark
- Computer science
- Data visualization
Sales & Marketing:
- SEO/SEM marketing
- Social media
- Inside sales
- Outbound calling
Accounting & Finance:
- Cash flow management
- Microsoft Office
- Risk Analysis
How to Find Hard Skills for Your Resume
Hard skills must be reexamined for each job opening. In order to find skills that will help get you past ATS, job seekers should analyze the job description, looking specifically for skills that are mentioned first or listed more than once, as those are likely high-priority to the hiring manager.
When choosing hard skills to include, bear in mind that tense matters to ATS. Be sure to use the exact form of the word used in the job description.
Analyzing each job description can be time consuming, but it is important. Jobscan can help by automating the process of locating hard skills. Just upload or copy and paste your resume beside the job description of your choice and Jobscan will do the rest.
Soft Skills List
- Strong communication
- Team player
- Strong work ethic
- Decision maker
- Strategic thinker
- Skilled Collaborator
- Time management
- Conflict resolution
- Work well under pressure
- Attention to detail
How to Use Soft Skills in Your Resume
Just because soft skills are non-technical does not mean they can’t be worked into measurable accomplishments. In fact, soft skills become more tangible and believable when combined with accomplishments and measurable results.
If you have a summary statement in your resume, try working soft skills into it. For example:
Product manager, problem-solver and super communicator with 15 years of experience in product strategy. I have carried more than 20 successful products from start to completion.
This summary statement uses soft skills “problem solver” and “super communicator” while also including measurable metrics as proof of experience. When working with soft skills, a job seeker should always try to pair a soft skill with a measurable result.
Another way to include soft skills is in the form of accomplishments in the experience section of a resume. For example:
Using my strong organizational skills, I created a new filing system for more than 300 patient files.
Note: A version of this article was published by James Hu on January 4, 2016. It was rewritten and updated by Paige Doepke on September 27, 2018.