Hard Skills

Definition

The term hard skill refers to the tangible capabilities of an individual that can be defined, measured, and assessed.  Hard skills are easier to observe in the workplace than soft skills, and range from proficiency in software programs to automotive repair.

Explanation

Hard skills are the talents possessed by an individual that are easily observable in the workplace because they can be defined and assessed in some manner.  For this reason, specifications appearing in job postings will typically focus on hard skills.  Soft skills are less tangible than hard skills because these talents oftentimes involve an assessment of how well the individual interacts with others.  For example, soft skills include abilities such as team building, leadership, emotional intelligence, and social skills.

Hard skills can be thought of as the talents an individual needs to complete a task or process.  Repairing an automobile takes mechanical skills, creating software applications takes knowledge of a programming language.  When selecting individuals to come in for a job interview, candidates are often selected because they have the hard skills necessary to perform the duties of the position.  Soft skills, on the other hand, are the behaviors an individual exhibits when completing a task or process.  Working collaboratively with others, building teams, creating an engaged workforce are examples of soft skills.  During an interview, the insight into how an individual uses their soft skills becomes an important factor in the selection of a successful job candidate.

Related Terms

skills, networking, social skills, effective listening skillssoft skills, job qualifications, skillset