Hard Skills Versus Soft Skills: Differences, Definitions, and Examples

In today’s job market, employers are looking for a well-rounded candidate who possesses both technical abilities and interpersonal skills.

This balancing act of hard skills and soft skills can often create confusion for job seekers.

However, it is highly recommended to have both hard skills and soft skills in this day and age.

Individuals should be able to distinguish between hard skills and soft skills when applying for jobs because both are important in an organization and for employment opportunities.

Also, it is crucial to know the difference as different skill sets will be tested and evaluated in the job application process from the screening of the resume, interviewing, and salary negotiation.

Hard skills are quantifiable abilities and talents that can be trained or taught, such as proficiency in a certain programming language or the ability to use specific software.

It is closely related to technical skills and knowledge.

On the other hand, soft skills refer to the intangible qualities that make someone a great team player and leader, such as communication, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence.

Soft skills are distinct from hard skills in that they are related more closely to the person’s character and personality.

Soft skills are usually not teachable and are gained from a variety of factors including, cultural background, parental upbringing, and perhaps genetics.

Both hard and soft skills are essential for one to succeed in their work and in their life.

Before we venture further into this article, we like to share who we are and what we do.

About 9cv9

9cv9 is a business tech startup based in Singapore with a strong presence all over the world.

With over six years of startup and business experience, and being highly involved in connecting with thousands of companies and startups, the 9cv9 team has distilled important learning points into this overview of the differences, definitions, and examples of hard skills versus soft skills.

Hard Skills Versus Soft Skills (Updated in 2023)

  1. What are Soft Skills?
  2. What are Hard Skills?
  3. Difference between Hard Skills and Soft Skills
  4. How to include Hard and Soft Skills on a resume?
  5. How to highlight your Hard and Soft Skills in an interview?

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are the personal attributes, personality traits, and social graces that enable individuals to effectively communicate, collaborate, and interact with others.

These skills are less tangible and harder to quantify than hard skills, but they are just as important for success in the workplace.

Individual soft skills are difficult to define or measure because they are developed personally.

Interpersonal skills that allow people to communicate and interact with one another are referred to as soft skills. Soft skills, which are difficult to teach, include things like character, teamwork ability, and an overall understanding of and participation in your company culture.

Employees who are new to the workforce or transitioning to a new career may struggle with soft skills, especially when interacting with coworkers.

Examples of Sоft Skills

There are various examples of soft skills, and understanding them will aid in your understanding of this concept. Soft skills include the following:

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Emotional intelligence, also known as EI, refers to a person’s ability to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

It encompasses a range of competencies, including self-awareness, empathy, self-regulation, and relationship management.

People with high EI have the ability to recognize their own emotional states, understand how their emotions impact those around them and regulate their own emotions to respond appropriately in different situations.

EI also plays a crucial role in building and maintaining positive relationships, both in personal and professional settings.

Research has shown that individuals with high EI tend to be more successful in their careers, have better relationships, and experience greater overall life satisfaction.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, EI has become an increasingly important skill in the workplace, and many employers are seeking candidates who possess strong emotional intelligence.


Adaptability is a soft skill that assists people in adapting to changing circumstances.

An adaptable employee can keep up with shifting priorities, projects, clients, and technology.

They are adept at dealing with workplace changes, such as process updates or changes in their work environment.

People who are highly adaptable are able to quickly adjust their plans and processes to meet new challenges and overcome obstacles.

This skill is especially important in today’s rapidly changing business environment, where organizations are faced with an increasing amount of ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity.

Adaptable individuals are able to manage stress and uncertainty, and they have the ability to quickly identify new opportunities and develop innovative solutions.

Whether it’s a new project, a change in the organizational structure, or a shift in market conditions, adaptable individuals are able to rise to the challenge and find success in any situation.

This is why many employers are seeking candidates who possess strong adaptability skills, and why adaptability has become one of the most highly valued soft skills in the modern workplace.


Communication is a critical soft skill that plays a vital role in both personal and professional settings.

It refers to the exchange of information, ideas, and feelings between individuals through verbal or nonverbal means.

Effective communication skills allow individuals to express themselves clearly, listen actively, and understand different perspectives.

This ability to communicate effectively can lead to increased productivity, stronger relationships, and improved conflict resolution.

Communication is a dynamic and ongoing process that requires constant attention, practice, and improvement to master.

This is arguably the most important soft skill that a person must have. There will not be an effective smooth organizational structure if the staff, employees, and management do not communicate.

Individuals applying for jobs must understand when, how, and what to communicate in order to work efficiently and effectively with coworkers and colleagues.

Whether it’s through face-to-face conversations, written messages, or virtual interactions, the ability to communicate effectively is an essential asset in today’s rapidly changing world.

Time Management

Time management is a crucial soft skill that enables individuals to balance the demands of their personal and professional life.

It involves prioritizing tasks, setting realistic goals, and using time efficiently to achieve those goals.

Effective time management requires discipline, organization, and the ability to multitask without sacrificing quality.

By developing strong time management skills, individuals can increase their productivity, reduce stress, and achieve a better work-life balance.

Whether it’s through daily planning, setting priorities, or delegating tasks, the ability to manage time effectively is a valuable asset in today’s fast-paced environment.

By mastering this skill, individuals can improve their overall satisfaction and success in both their personal and professional lives.


According to Wikipedia, teamwork is a group’s collaborative effort to achieve a common goal or complete a task in the most effective and efficient way possible.

This idea is seen in the context of a team, which is a collection of interdependent people who cooperate to accomplish a single objective.

It involves the ability to communicate, delegate, negotiate, and trust one another in order to achieve success as a team.

Developing teamwork skills requires an understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as a willingness to work together, overcome challenges and celebrate successes.

Whether in a professional or personal setting, the ability to work effectively in a team can lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment.

By fostering a positive and supportive team dynamic, individuals can create a workplace culture that encourages collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving.

This is another soft skill you should have and can be written into your resume.

To achieve productive results, you must be able to collaborate with others.

You must have teamwork.

Other Examples of Soft Skills:

  • Multitasking
  • Attention to detail
  • Resроnsibility
  • Strategic reasoning
  • Prоblem sоlvеr
  • Good decision-making
  • Innоvаtive
  • Cultural awareness

How to acquire soft skills?

Acquiring soft skills can be a lifelong process that requires effort and dedication.

One effective way to develop these skills is by actively seeking out new experiences and challenges that push you out of your comfort zone.

This can involve taking on new responsibilities at work, volunteering for projects outside of your expertise, or pursuing hobbies that require interaction with others.

Additionally, seeking feedback from trusted friends, colleagues, and mentors can provide valuable insight into areas where you can improve.

Another way to acquire soft skills is by attending training or workshops, reading books and articles, or participating in online courses that focus on specific skills such as communication, teamwork, or leadership.

The key is to continually strive for self-improvement and be open to new learning opportunities.

What are Hard Skills?

Hard skills are a set of specific, technical abilities and knowledge that are required to perform a particular job or task.

Unlike soft skills, which are related to personal attributes such as communication and teamwork, hard skills are quantifiable and easily measured.

They can be acquired through formal education, specialized instructions, trial-and-errors, failures, training programs, or on-the-job experience.

Typically, one would receive specialized training to acquire hard skills, such as a data scientist learning how to use an analytical tool or a nurse learning how to draw blood.

Hard skills can be taught in schools and can be mastered within a certain amount of time in order to be certified as professionals.

Hard skills are highly valued by employers as they are directly relevant to the successful completion of specific job functions.

In today’s job market, having a strong set of hard skills can help individuals stand out in a competitive job market and advance their careers.

For instance, mastery of a second language is an example of a hard skill, whereas the capacity for teamwork is an example of a soft skill.

More examples of hard skills include proficiency in programming languages, knowledge of financial analysis, or the ability to operate machinery.

Examples of Hard Skills

Some examples of hard skills are as follows:

Technical Skills

Technical skills are a type of hard skill that refers to the hands-on knowledge and ability to use various tools, systems, and software required for a particular job or industry.

Technical skills are highly sought after by employers in industries such as technology, engineering, and construction.

These skills are essential for the successful completion of specific tasks and projects and are often a critical component of job performance.

Individuals who possess strong technical skills are able to quickly and efficiently solve problems and are equipped to handle the ever-evolving demands of the modern workplace.

Whether it be through formal education or on-the-job training, developing and enhancing technical skills can lead to increased job satisfaction, career growth, and a competitive edge in the job market.

Specialized knowledge and expertise in disciplines like IT, engineering, or science are examples of technical skills.

Examples of technical hard skills include the following: STEM competencies, CAD, Lean manufacturing, multivariate analysis, linear regression, workflow development, etc.

Computer Skills

Having strong computer skills is increasingly becoming a necessity in today’s digital age and is widely recognized as a valuable hard skill.

These skills include proficiency in software programs, an understanding of computer systems, and the ability to use technology to enhance productivity and solve complex problems.

Whether it’s creating spreadsheets, designing presentations, or coding websites, computer literacy is a sought-after skill by employers across industries.

In today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, being able to effectively use technology is a key component to success and can give individuals a competitive edge in the job market.

Analytical Skills

The ability to collect data, analyze it, interpret its meaning, and present it are all examples of analytical hard skills.

Data analytics skills are considered to be a valuable hard skill in today’s job market, as they provide the ability to gather, process, and interpret large amounts of information.

This knowledge can be applied to a wide range of industries, including finance, marketing, and technology, to make data-driven decisions and improve business outcomes.

Having a solid understanding of data analytics can allow individuals to identify patterns, trends, and insights hidden in the data, which can lead to improved decision-making and informed strategy development.

The demand for professionals with these skills is on the rise, as organizations are constantly looking for ways to optimize their operations and stay ahead of the competition.

Whether you’re working with big data or simple spreadsheets, the ability to effectively analyze and interpret data is an in-demand and highly sought-after skill.

Research, data mining, data visualization, resource management, data engineering, etc. are some examples of analytical hard skills.

Digital Marketing Skill

Along with the general knowledge of sales, advertising, and consumer research, marketing professionals also need a wide range of highly technical digital marketing skills to succeed in today’s online marketing landscape.

Digital marketing skills are a crucial hard skill in today’s business world, where the majority of consumers and businesses alike rely heavily on the internet and digital channels for information and communication.

These skills encompass a range of techniques and strategies, such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, and more, that are used to reach and engage with target audiences online.

The ability to effectively leverage these channels to promote products, services, and brands can be a major competitive advantage for businesses.

Digital marketing skills are also highly sought after by employers, as they allow companies to reach and connect with their target audience in a cost-effective and measurable way.

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or looking to add new skills to your existing arsenal, developing expertise in digital marketing can be a valuable and rewarding investment.

Examples of Digital Marketing skills include SEO/SEM, paid social media marketing, writing, and other forms of advertising.

Graphic Design Skill

Graphic design is a highly sought-after skill in today’s job market as it encompasses a wide range of technical abilities and creative flair.

From image manipulation to typography, graphic designers use a combination of technical proficiency and artistic vision to create visually appealing designs that communicate messages effectively.

A strong foundation in graphic design requires a deep understanding of color theory, composition, and the use of various design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

These skills are not only important for the production of logos, websites, and marketing materials, but they also demonstrate a candidate’s ability to think critically, solve problems, and pay attention to detail, making them a valuable hard skill for any employer.

Graphic designers usually can embark on other career paths in the design and data fields, which include UX/UI designing, UX research, data visualization, etc.

How to acquire hard skills?

Acquiring hard skills requires a combination of education and practical experience.

Formal education through courses or certifications can provide the foundational knowledge needed to develop a particular skill, but it’s essential to supplement this with hands-on experience.

This can be achieved through internships, volunteering, or on-the-job training.

Networking and seeking out mentors within the field can also provide valuable opportunities to learn and grow.

Additionally, regularly practicing and using the skill on the job and staying current with industry developments can help to improve and enhance the skill over time.

Our recommendation to acquire hard skills efficiently is to find learning courses on massive open online course providers (“MOOC”) such as:

  • Coursera
  • EdX
  • Udacity
  • Udemy
  • Khan Academy

Difference between Hard Skills and Soft Skills

Hard skills are the knowledge and skills specific to a job that employees need to successfully carry out their duties.

On the other hand, soft skills are the character traits that actually enable employees to thrive at work.

While soft skills reveal which of these candidates are also strong in person, hard skills aid in identifying candidates who are strong on paper.

This means that for every employee to succeed in their position, there needs to be a good balance between hard and soft skills.

The best way to train employees is to help them simultaneously develop their hard and soft skills.

The good news is that many of the same tools used to train for hard skills can be easily adapted to work on developing soft skills.

his could be as simple as changing training exercises to be completed in groups and emphasizing collaboration and teamwork.

Every training session may include time for reflection and improvement.

When organizing training sessions for recent hires or long-term employees, it is crucial to comprehend the distinction between hard skills and soft skills.

How to include Hard and Soft Skills on a resume?

Including both hard and soft skills on your resume can give potential employers a well-rounded picture of your abilities and qualifications.

Here’s how to include both:

  1. Hard Skills: These are specific, quantifiable abilities and technical knowledge. They can be listed in bullet points under a separate section titled “Skills” or “Technical Skills.” Examples include proficiency in specific software programs, programming languages, or certifications.
  2. Soft Skills: These are interpersonal and character traits that are relevant to the job. They can be listed under a separate section titled “Skills” or “Key Competencies.” Examples include teamwork, communication, time management, and problem-solving.
  3. Integrating both skills: You can also integrate both hard and soft skills into your work experience section. For each position, describe your responsibilities and achievements, highlighting the skills you utilized, both hard and soft. This will help to reinforce your qualifications and show how your skills have been applied in real-world situations.

It’s important to note that while hard skills are necessary for the job, soft skills are often what sets candidates apart and can make a difference in getting hired.

Be sure to tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for, highlighting the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the position.

How to highlight your Hard and Soft Skills in an interview?

One effective way to showcase your hard and soft skills during an interview is to provide specific examples and anecdotes from your past experiences.

For instance, you can highlight your attention to detail by discussing a project you worked on that required meticulous accuracy, or demonstrate your problem-solving skills by describing a challenging situation you faced and how you resolved it.

Additionally, highlighting your interpersonal skills by discussing a team project and how you effectively collaborated with your team members can also help to showcase your soft skills.

It’s important to think about what sets you apart from other candidates and what makes you unique, and then effectively communicate that in your interview.


In conclusion, both hard skills and soft skills play an important role in achieving success in the modern workforce.

Hard skills are technical abilities and knowledge that are easily quantifiable, such as coding or data analysis.

On the other hand, soft skills refer to interpersonal abilities that enable individuals to effectively communicate, work well with others, and solve complex problems.

While hard skills are often the primary requirement for many job roles, employers are increasingly valuing the importance of soft skills as well.

Therefore, it is important for individuals to cultivate a balance of both hard and soft skills in order to be well-rounded and competitive in the job market.

By investing time and effort into developing both types of skills, individuals can increase their chances of success and achieve their career goals

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People also ask

What are the 7 essential soft skills?

  1. Communication: The ability to effectively communicate verbally and in writing, listen actively, and tailor messages to different audiences.
  2. Teamwork: The ability to work collaboratively with others, resolve conflicts, and support the success of the team.
  3. Adaptability: The ability to adjust to changing circumstances and embrace new challenges and opportunities.
  4. Problem-solving: The ability to analyze situations, identify issues, and develop creative solutions.
  5. Time management: The ability to prioritize tasks, manage one’s workload, and meet deadlines.
  6. Leadership: The ability to inspire and guide others, motivate teams, and make informed decisions.
  7. Emotional intelligence: The ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

Is leadership a soft or hard skill?

Leadership can be considered both a soft skill and a hard skill. On one hand, leadership involves personality traits and interpersonal abilities that are typically considered soft skills, such as communication, empathy, emotional intelligence, and relationship building. These skills enable leaders to effectively motivate, inspire, and influence others, and to create a positive work environment. On the other hand, leadership also involves specific knowledge and technical abilities that are considered hard skills, such as strategy development, decision-making, problem-solving, and delegation. These skills enable leaders to make informed and effective decisions, manage resources and operations, and achieve organizational goals.

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