You have probably come across articles and books that argue on which is more important- hard skills or soft skills. First, let us differentiate the two. Hard skills are the technical skills you learn through training and schooling. These include processes, procedures, techniques, jargons, and other aspects that can be quantified and measured. Soft skills, in contrast, are sets of personal and interpersonal attributes that a person has which are not necessarily quantifiable and measurable, but will determine a person’s work performance, nonetheless.
Now going back to the question, which one is more important? Let us talk about each one’s role in helping you fast track your career.
Importance of Soft Skills
Psychologist Daniel Coleman has repeatedly reiterated the value of soft skills, saying that an individual’s ability to know and manage themselves, as well as their relationships with others is twice as important as their intelligence quotient (IQ). Because there are constant pressures from work as well as changes in the work environment, an employee has to be prepared for these, and this can only be made possible if they have the needed soft skills to help them face the many challenges every single day.
Employers today put a high regard on soft skills because they understand that to get things done, to achieve the company goals, they have to have the right employees in their organization. People with good personal attributes and excellent interpersonal skills are necessary and invaluable to their business.
Importance of Hard Skills
Hard skills, as mentioned, are something you learn through training and through certain educational programs. If you studied to become a doctor, you should know how to diagnose an illness or to determine which drug to be prescribed so as to cure this illness. If you do not have the knowledge and the know-how, you will not be able to practice your profession as a doctor. Years of training will help you acquire “technical” skills.
In any career path or business you choose, hard skills are always needed. For example, if you want to be a teacher, you need to know how to make lesson plans; if you are a salesperson, you need to know the products or services you are selling; if you are a guidance counselor, you need to know human behavior; and so on.
In essence, influencing others and getting them to look up to you are something you will find difficult to do if you do not know the technical aspects of your job. You cannot motivate the members of your team to complete a project if you do not even know how to complete it yourself. You cannot lead others in an effort to increase your company’s profits if you do not even understand finance, marketing, and business development.
Hard skills and soft skills are never meant to compete with each other; in fact, they should, ideally, complement the other. A good education and proper training will indeed pave the way for success, but unless you are equipped with the necessary soft skills, your opportunities could all go down the drains. Hard skills and soft skills need to be learned and developed, if you want to achieve success in your career.
Are you having a hard time finding the job you want? Or, are you currently employed but wish you could be promoted? You can make this possible by having the hard skills required for the job you plan to have, as well as by developing the various personal and interpersonal skills that will help make you a highly qualified individual. Once you have all these, there is no stopping you from attaining career growth and stability, no matter what path you choose.
Do not be misled by the notion that a great education will ensure your success, because it is not all there is to it. Yes, it is essential and prerequisite to any kind of employment, but you also need to have the right attitude, the right “people” skills, and the right mindset to help you land the job of your dreams.