Résumé GPS Series: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Clint Mytych

Clint Mytych

Certified Professional Résumé Writer and blogger. Founder of Content Pro.

Resume Toolbox Series. Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Résumé Refinement in Minutes

Welcome to the first edition of a blog series we hope provides quick and easy wins for your résumé.  We often say, “Your path to success begins with an exceptional résumé.” This GPS Series will offer directional guidance on a host of issues we all face when drafting or updating our résumés!  

We’ll kick off the series with a post about two different skill types and how to best present them.

Find Your Bearings

See if you can distinguish the fundamental difference between the following two skills:

  • Persuasion
  • Customer Relationship Management 

The primary difference?  One is a “hard” skill and the other a “soft” skill.

Let’s step back for a moment: in Sales and Marketing fields, both Persuasion and Customer Relationship Management are valuable skills to possess and are highly prized by employers.  If seeking a job in this field, it’s probably wise to include both of these on the résumé in some manner.  

However, one of these two skills can’t be properly interpreted without context – making it pointless (and risky) to reference it by itself and force the reader to assign their own meaning.    

Which skill are we talking about?  Hint: soft skills are the type that you generally don’t want to list without sufficient context.

Did you guess correctly?  “Persuasion” is a soft skill and therefore requires more attention to how it’s presented.  

Hard & Soft Skills Defined

Hard skills are those that are easily definable and measurable.  They’re typically gained through education, specialized training, certification programs, or “started from the bottom” experience and on-the-job training.   Many hard skills are industry specific.  For instance, a skill in JavaScript is gold in the Programming field but irrelevant for a role as a litigation attorney.  

Examples of hard skills:

  • Database Management
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Value-Based Selling
  • Budgeting 
  • Written Communication

Check out a more exhaustive list of hard skills from Indeed.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are not often industry or job specific because they relate to who you are as a person, how you perform your work, and how you interact with people.  Think back to our JavaScript example above.  While this hard skill represents a legitimate difference in training and career paths between a Programmer and an attorney, there are characteristics that people who fill each of these roles will likely share – things like, “attention to detail,” “research,” or “cross-departmental collaboration.” 

Examples of soft skills:

  • Active Listening
  • Collaboration
  • Organization
  • Time Management
  • Conflict Resolution

And here’s a list of soft skills from Indeed.

Action Plan for Your Résumé

Time to pull it all together.  We favor presenting hard skills together as a list in a dedicated section of the résumé, and presenting soft skills within the description of a specific task or responsibility.  If there’s a particular job posting you’re interested in applying to, the first step is to make sure your résumé references as many of the skills in the job posting as are truthful and applicable to yourself.  

Put it into practice: Hard Skills

When presenting your hard skills in the dedicated skills section, only list those that you can back up with examples if asked about them during the phone screening or interview.  Try to aim for organization in your list (i.e., put the heavy-hitters first like those referenced in the job posting, group technology skills together) and don’t shy away from giving yourself credit when you have advanced proficiency!  If you’re proficient at Excel, don’t just list “MS Office Suite” as your hard skill – call attention to what you can do.  Example: “Excel Proficiency (e.g., Pivot Tables, VLOOKUP).”

Put it into practice: Soft Skills

Work a soft skill reference into the description about a responsibility at your job. Example: if you’re confident that collaboration/teamwork is one of your soft skills, provide context around it with something like, “Leveraged cross-departmental collaboration skills to bring both IT and Sales together and lead meetings where the teams identified and solved a client’s pain point.

Bonus Tip: do NOT list “multi-tasking” as a skill on your résumé!  Everyone thinks they can multi-task, and the soft skill you may want to use instead is “focused.”  Here’s an article for a deeper read on this.  

Most people find résumés to be intimidating documents to write.  While we’re thrilled to be able to share tips and lessons learned, Content Pro is also here to offer a dedicated, certified résumé writer should you ever want the help.  Check out our core résumé services for details. 

Have a comment about this post or still unsure what steps to take on your résumé with hard and soft skills?  Leave a comment below!

Content Pro Resume Services LLC is a career development company providing tailored résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn® profiles, curriculum vitae, federal résumés, career coaching and other resources to help people succeed on their career journey.  No matter your experience or industry, we can help!  We serve clients at all levels: recent graduates, entry-level, professionals, seasoned executives, and those looking to change fields. 


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