soft skills, tech skills, hard skills, work, professional life, career advancement
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 14 December 2016
How Hard and Soft Skills Work Together (Part 3)
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Gisel Malek
Content Marketer

Peanut butter and jelly. Macaroni and cheese. Mario and Luigi. Yin and Yang. 

What do these things all have in common? They would be considerably less amazing without their partner. I mean sure, you can have peanut butter by itself, but once you know how it tastes with jelly, you can’t really spread it on a dry sliced bread anymore without feeling just a little bit sad now, can you? Well, most of us can’t. Skillsets need to be looked at in the same way. One set is just not enough, you need both! Now that you are familiar with both soft and hard skills, it’s time to talk about how they will be working together. (If you want to refresh your knowledge, check out parts1 and 2 of our 3 part series!)

Soft Skills 

Soft but with a punch. Soft skills are like the quiet kid in the corner, who doesn’t say much, but knows what is going on and understands everything probably even better than most around him/her! It’s not about actually being quiet or being introverted at all, it’s about underestimating what that kid brings to the table. 

When it comes to soft or behavioral skills, they are highly sought after for a reason. Some people say they cannot be taught and that they are even more important than hard or technical skills.The truth is - most everyone possesses soft skills on some range. You will not find too many people that score 0 on a scale of 1-10. 

Here is a list of the most in-demand soft skills job candidates need to have:


  1. Communication/Networking

  2. Problem - Solving

  3. Customer Service

  4. Selling/Outreach

  5. Obtain and Process Information

Hard Skills

Putting your money where your mouth is. Hard or technical skills are basically any kind of skill that shows that you know how to do something. As an adult, hard skills are those that will help you succeed in your line of work. Like with soft skills, there are many technical skills that people have obtained from being in school (math, statistics, chemistry, etc.) or working part-time jobs that can qualify as “hard” skills. Recruiters typically focus on technical skills when they are looking to hire, so it’s important to identify which ones you have so you can best use them to your advantage. 

Here is a list of the most in-demand soft skills job candidates need to have:

  1. Mobile Development

  2. Big Data/Data Science

  3. VR tech/Cloud computing

  4. Integration Software

  5. Network Security

I’ll take both, please!

Recruiters nowadays are looking for both skill sets as equally important for the positions they are hiring for. If they want to hire somebody to work in their sales department - they may place a higher emphasis on soft skills, since being able to build relationships, communicate properly and make sales, requires someone to have a certain kind of personality that is comprised of many soft skills. Conversely, if a recruiter is hiring a front-end engineer, their emphasis may be shifted towards an analytical person - someone who understands how to code and can show results. 

Having said that, the coder and the salesperson, as different as they may be, need to be able to work together and fit within the overall culture of the company. To do this - they need to have some of the other person’s skillsets so that they are a more well-rounded employee themselves. Most businesses rely on the sum of all their parts to make the company a success. If one department is suffering, it will trickle into the rest. A culture first and foremost needs to be created or set in place before hiring anyone. This way - when you hire someone that may have the skills you need, but you know that their personality doesn’t fit or they do not understand what the company is really about, you know right away, they are probably not the best fit. When companies hire those people anyways, what ends up happening is miscommunication between departments, alienation, and morale goes down.

A salesperson with analytical skills

When hiring a salesperson, you want someone that is charming, great on the phone, confident, not afraid to speak up and ask for the sale. That’s generally what makes up a successful salesperson. Think of the people that have been able to sell you something successfully - chances are they had some if not all of those attributes. However, this is not to say that more analytical minded people cannot make great salespeople. Outside and Inside sales requires someone to be able to utilize their time properly, understand how to use software to help with their searches, outreach and other methods of research. Additionally, having someone with an analytical mind, can come especially handy when brainstorming is required to come up with better ways of making sales. If someone is selling a software as a service, understanding the software and the product will go a long way in developing trust with clients. 

You can see how both sets of skills can really play a role as an account executive or an SDR. 

Marketing, engineering, accounting and other departments work similarly. Having both soft and hard skills for any job are required for success. 

How to Emphasize Both Soft and Hard Skills

  1. Discuss Experiences - experiences are always a great way to show recruiters more of who you are. Situational questions are bound to come up and it’s up to you to focus on what you think they want to hear while still remaining true to who you are. It’s a good practice to list out the situations where you had to lead a group of people in a project. How you combated turmoil, were effective in creating results and really emphasize the soft skills you possess in order to have achieved what you did in that group.

  2. Bring Examples - This is a great opportunity to focus on technical skills. If you are applying for a job as an accountant and excel may be a required program you need to know. It would be wise to come prepared with sample spreadsheets you were able to create and use successfully to measure various things. 

  3. Emphasize Hard and Soft Skills - Flat out use those terms to emphasize to recruiters that you have what it takes to not just do the job, but fit well within the company’s culture and that you really are a well-rounded person. 

Now that you have understood what behavioral and technical skills and how necessary they both are together, you may want to take some time to build a skill list for yourself. Take notes of the skills you possess and where you have developed them, where you use them and how you can improve upon them. Also, take note of the skills you may be lacking. Most recruiters know it’s very difficult to find a well-rounded employee - many people really either possess more of one or the other. You can develop your technical skills by learning the software and tools they don’t teach you in school for the jobs you want to get after you graduate. Learning from industry professionals can give you a leg up in what is going on out there in the real world and what people are using on a daily basis. All practice no theory. 

If you want more experience working on teams, work on projects and challenges for companies looking to hire. You can work on teams with people across the U.S, expanding your network and learning more about other people and their cultures at the same time. 

Take the time now to focus on how to make yourself a more competitive and ideal candidate, so that no recruiter can pass you up!