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Hard skills vs Soft skills in Recruitment - What is the Difference?

over 3 years ago by Luigi Muscat Filletti
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Hard skills vs Soft skills in Recruitment - What is the Difference?

During the recruitment process, the employer would be looking for a particular skill set which would address the duties and responsibilities of the role in question, whilst simultaneously looking for attributes which determine the applicant’s work ethic, discipline and determination, as well as qualities which would enhance the atmosphere at the workplace.

In short, employers today are looking out for individuals who possess both hard skills and soft skills, displaying the right  balance of talent, experience and qualifications with desirable personality traits. Below, we’ll be taking a look at what hard skills and soft skills really are and how both are of importance. By doing so, we will learn how to use them to one’s advantage when applying for a job to excel their career opportunities.

What are Hard Skills?

Hard skills are skills which are specific to the job in question, and account for the  level of experience and expertise required to fulfil the tasks which come with the job. Hard skills are obtained through formal education and training, and refer to the knowledge needed to carry out the role - they are the quantifiable skills which one possesses as a result of extended learning, such examples include educational degrees, relevant job experience as well as other side-skills which the individual might possess which are beneficial (writing, coding, knowledge of a foreign language, the understanding of softwares and other similar subjects). For instance, certain roles within the iGaming industry in Malta require individuals who have a good written and verbal knowledge of particular languages in order for them to operate within foreign markets. Therefore, one may be able to start a career in iGaming in Malta by satisfying the employer with additional hard skills - customer support jobs and several marketing related roles may be acquired through additional skills which compliment the effectiveness of the job.

Hard skills are the type which can be mastered and are measured and accounted for through certifications and acknowledgements. These types of skills are usually the ones which dominate one’s CV and complement the candidate’s application for a role by displaying his or her qualifications and experience. That being said, the hard skills required for a job are usually mentioned in the job description and therefore inform the applicant on the expertise which is essential in order to take up the role.

Why do Employers Look for Hard Skills?

There is no doubt that an employer will be pleased when a candidate possesses the right qualifications and experience for the job, since such accomplishments show talent and strong potential growth. When applying for a job, one should make sure that their CV displays details on qualifications and experience which are relevant to the job requirements and experience, and to take it further, one could also point out such achievements in their covering letter. Hard skills are skills which are clear and easily recognisable through a person’s performance, meaning that although one should have their ambitions to improve, they should also remain humble about their hard skills since employers would be able to distinguish them for themselves. That said, hard skills are black or white - the candidate either possesses them or does not, and the employer’s decision is heavily based on such criteria. Although certain roles do offer on-the-job training, employers tend to prefer candidates who readily acquire the needed hard skills.

Hard skills are of high importance, since through them the employer would be able to immediately justify whether a candidate is well-suited for the role upon looking at their CV. Employers would have certain expectations regarding hard skills, since they would already know what qualifications and level of experience are needed, as well as any additional hard skills which would be considered an asset. For instance, candidates applying for jobs in the Banking sector in Malta would need to possess and display any necessary qualifications and level of experience according to the job title - accountant vacancies in Malta vary from clerks to senior levels, meaning that a candidate should keep in mind the required skill-set which employers are looking for depending on the role.

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills refer to the personal qualities possessed by the individual and help define his or her personality around others. Soft skills come more naturally to the individual than hard skills do, and this is because one’s soft skills are based on their social confidence and emotional response. The importance of soft skills should not be underestimated, as such qualities affect the way one works and interacts with others. Communications skills, work ethic, time management, creativity, problem-solving and decision-making skills are all examples of soft skills which may prove decisive to differentiating one candidate from the other.

Why do Employers Look for Soft Skills?

Employers want to make sure that the person they are hiring is highly motivated and is positive and passionate about the work they do. The ability to interact well with colleagues, expressing oneself confidently and clearly, being able to listen to others and providing valuable feedback are all but a few assets of soft skills. In addition, being able to manage one’s time to maximise productivity and being able to perform under pressure due to strict deadlines are both soft skills which employers favour considerably.

Through qualities such as time management, one would be able to show their employers that they can set out priorities and execute tasks efficiently. Being punctual for deadlines and meetings is also a sign of professionalism, as well as is the ability to adapt to changes around the workplace. Leadership skills are also highly favoured - the ability for an individual to take initiative, provide useful feedback and make intelligent suggestions is seen to as an asset, since such skills would be beneficial to a company’s growth. In addition, employers favour individuals who are keen team players, but more importantly, ready to except feedback and collaborate with colleagues.

Soft skills are usually adapted over time, meaning that people who possess soft skills tend to come from more diverse backgrounds and can therefore bring more variety to the workplace. What is more is that people who have interpersonal and communication skills are favoured over those who do not, simply because during the recruitment process, the employer would keep in mind that the person they would be hiring would be an addition to the company’s members of staff, who therefore contributes to the company’s image. This is especially so when the candidate is applying for a customer-based role - employees who are in direct contact with clients or customers would need to maintain a professional image and show soft skills related to listening, helpfulness, problem-solving and politeness, amongst others.

Hard Skills & Soft Skills are Equally Important

When applying for a job, the candidate must keep into consideration the requirements for the role, whether specific hard skills are needed and if any soft skills would be considered an asset, and communicating such skills through their CV, covering letter as well as through an interview.

The bottom line is that employers desire the best of both worlds - candidates who are well qualified, have the right relevant experience and possess positive, team-playing and hardworking attitudes. After all, hard skills and soft skills compliment each other - hard skills show the employer that the candidate is capable and competent enough to undertake the role, whilst soft skills show the employer a set of personal qualities and attributes which can provide further benefits to productivity and to the workplace culture and environment. Therefore one can say that both hard skills and soft skills are necessary when applying for a job vacancy, meaning that both talent and the right mentality are favoured by the employer throughout the recruitment process.