Explore the difference between soft and hard skills and what employers really want.

Soft and Hard Skills

Having analysed thousands of job listings, recruitment app Debut has revealed the most in-demand ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills employers are looking for. But first, what exactly are ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills?

What are Hard Skills?

Hard skills are acquired through training, practice, and education. 

Therefore, any skills that are taught in some form are classed as a ‘hard’ skill and will generally cater to the industry you work within. 

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills, however, are those that cannot be taught and are arguably the more important for that very reason. 

These are non-technical skills but skills that very much still affect the way that you work. 

These may fall into any of the following categories, people skills, communication skills, personality traits, work ethic, social or emotional intelligence. 

With ‘hard’ skills being much easier to teach, many employers will primarily focus on soft skills and work on the candidate’s ‘hard’ skills through employment. 

Something that can easily be done should the employer have the time, resources, and the right candidate with the right attitude.

What are the ‘soft skills employers are searching for currently?

Debut’s data revealed that communication, management, and organisation were the top spoken ‘soft’ skills among employers and recruiters, with initiative, teamwork, and enthusiasm being the runners up.

In order, the most in-demand soft skills were:

  • Communication
  • Management
  • Organisation
  • Initiative
  • Teamwork
  • Passion
  • Enthusiasm
  • Passionate
  • Creative
  • Competitive

What are the most in-demand hard skills?

For hard skills, data was the most talked about with many organisations searching for candidates who can understand and apply data, with planning, research, and analytical skills the other most in-demand.

In order, the most in-demand hard skills were:

  • Data
  • Planning
  • Research
  • Analytical
  • Analytical skills
  • Deadlines
  • Problem-solving
  • Project management
  • Work experience
  • Social media

Our advice

Now you know the skills most in-demand, feature these keywords within your CV, cover letters and application forms and remember to demonstrate them during the job interview stage with real-life examples.

Keep in mind adaptability, flexibility and agility, something employers will be focusing on after a difficult year.

In job adverts, employers will ask for a combination, so you must demonstrate your capabilities in both areas.

Many ‘hard’ skills are transferable, so discuss them in such a way, specifically when entering new sectors. 

Employers may have a candidate in mind but will be open to transferrable skills from other sectors, especially those which are niche. 

And remember to state the obvious. You may be surprised to think of the everyday tasks you do as a skill but speak of them in that way. They may be a highly demanded skillset. 

Though markets are improving, you must make it clear the challenges you have successfully overcome and the approach you take towards ongoing development.

You want to ensure employers can foresee your positive position within the business.

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