What hard skills are and why they are important
Hard skills are measurable, practical abilities, often acquired through education, training, and experience, enabling a person to perform a specific function. Examples include language fluency, coding, and writing.
Hard skills are vital to every job and industry. Employers want to see that job applicants have hard skills specific to the job requirements because they show that the prospective employee has proficiency in the field and can do the work required. It can be challenging to get a job without the necessary hard skills, even if you have an impressive list of soft skills.
See What People are Saying About Us
How to use hard skills on a resume
You might have more hard skills than you realize, but it’s crucial to choose skills that match the requirements of each job.
- Start by evaluating your overall skill set.
- After writing down your list of skills, pick out your hard skills.
- Review the job description and highlight the required and “nice to have” hard skills.
- Match your hard skills to those you identified from the job description.
- Go through your list once more, looking for hard skills that don’t appear in the description but are relevant to the position, and add those to your final list.
In your resume objective or personal summary, explain how your hard skills make you an asset to the company. Most companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to pick out resumes that contain hard skills noted in the job description, so add some of those keywords to your objective or professional summary to get noticed by ATS.
For example, the following summary contains several types of hard skills, including
information processing and management, planning, analysis, as well as
technical applications and technologies:
“PMP-certified technical project manager with more than 15 years of experience developing and managing technical specifications, project milestone and sprint plans, requirement analysis, and high-level design documents. Expertise in VoIP, Mobile Applications, USB and embedded technologies.”
Hard skills are measurable, so a great way to set yourself apart is to provide specific examples of hard skills used and what you accomplished with them for each job in the work history section of your resume.
A waitress might explain her duties at a previous job like this:
- “Operated cloud-based point of sale (POS) systems to input customer orders and process payments for 30+ customers per day.
- Memorized restaurant’s daily specials and wine inventory and suggested appropriate pairings to guests, often resulting in $500+ in wine sales per evening.”
Every resume should have a separate skills section. How you display your skills will largely depend on your resume format. You can mix your hard skills with the rest of your skills, create a separate skills section for them with an appropriate heading, or add them to a separate section under a main skills heading. You might choose to list them or put them in context simply.
For example, a hard skills section for a truck driver might look like this:
- Logistics planning
Provided tactile management for daily operations and material flow.
- Safety rules and process
Met and enforced all OSHA and DOT safety rules and regulations consistently.
- Over the road (OTR)
Delivered OTR flatbed cargo to customers, ensuring on-time and damage-free deliveries regularly.
- Pre- and post-trip inspections
Performed pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections, maintained equipment, and conducted minor repairs when necessary.
In-demand hard skills employers look for
It’s a good idea to use various hard skills on your resume, as long as they are relevant to the job. Because hard skills are job- and industry-specific, you have to tailor your resume to every job. You may use some hard skills on one resume but not another. And job seekers with different backgrounds, job titles and industries can possess some of the same hard skills but apply them differently.
Hard skills that apply to a broad range of jobs include:
- Computer software and hardware
- Data management
How do I improve my hard skills?
Hard skills are learned, so there are many opportunities to improve them, such as:
- Use the skills you have! Practice makes perfect, after all.
- Take classes online, at work, or at a university or college.
- Request constructive criticism and take advice from others.
Do employers place a higher value on hard skills versus hard skills?
Employers prefer employees who have a mix of skills because they are well-rounded. Such employees are more effective because soft and hard skills often work hand-in-hand.
Are there different jobs and industries where hard skills are more important?
Hard skills are important for every job and industry. Some experience with relevant hard skills will at least get your food in the door.
Create a Professional Resume in Minutes!
Choose from more than a dozen eye-catching professional design templates that will help you create a unique resume employers will notice.
Find the right words
Writing your resume is a snap — just use our pre-written text bullet points to showcase your skills and accomplishments.
Get step-by-step advice
We’re there for you, every step of the way. Our professional resume tips and guidance will save you time and help your resume stand out from the competition!
Format your finished resume
Our simple editing tools make it easy to get exactly the resume you want. Download in your choice of formats, then print and send as many copies as you need.