What Are Hard Skills and How Can They Help Your Career?

By Bec | Changing Your Job or Career Path

Two women standing together looking down at work on a desk. Text overlays the image reading

When you are looking to undergo a career change, the word on everybody's lips is always skills. And when we are on the lookout for relevant skills in certain career types, the term “hard skills” comes up very rarely. While most people are aware of the importance of soft skills, hard skills are another thing entirely. But what are these from and how can they help your career?

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What Are Hard Skills?

The definition of hard skills is skills or learned abilities that are acquired through practice and repetition. Education is also an important factor. Hard skills are not a sole factor when it comes to business success. It's important to have this in a combination with soft skills to improve your abilities. Hard skills related to proficiency in a complex task.

And for example, in the modern business world, a plethora of skills are in demand like blockchain and cryptocurrency, which demands mastery over the skill. Hard skill competency can be acquired by a number of factors, such as work experience, an apprenticeship, or a degree. Within the blockchain or cryptocurrency arena, companies like Pacific Training help with blockchain learning, which, according to LinkedIn, is the number one hard skill needed. As you can see, hard skills are very broad, and require learning and improving with practice.

Understanding Hard Skills

In a business sense, this relates to proficiency in any task that is deemed complex. In digital marketing, this can mean proficiency in a wide variety of analytics programs. And even in practical skills such as building, expertise in carpentry can be a hard skill that you may learn and improve with practice. But employers or recruiters will always look for these hard skills, which means that you will need to have the skills backed up with proof, such as a qualification or a certificate.

Are Hard Skills Better Than Soft Skills?

The answer to this question is entirely subjective, as this means having to compare hard skills with soft skills. Hard skills will have components that say the same regardless of the industry or the business, so if you master a skill, you have, in effect, “completed” it. Soft skills relate to more human processes, and therefore, tend to evolve. The great thing about utilizing hard skills in career progression or transition is that you can develop a level of competency through a variety of courses. One common example is in the computing industry, especially with regards to programmers and how they create code.

Developing Your Hard Skills

The most simple way to do it is to get a strong education in one specific subject matter. However, you must remember that when looking to change career, it's not just about hard skills. Hard skills are pivotal to get in your resume recognized by a potential employer, but soft skills are what will help you get the job. 

As you can see, the importance of a hard skill is essential especially in these careers, but with the fact that employers are looking for people who have the right personality to fit in with a company, hard skills are merely the icing on the cake. Hard skills can certainly provide an entryway into a different career, and if you are looking to change your career, it's definitely worth upskilling yourself, but it is not the icebreaker you may think.


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About the Author

Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.