During the resume-building process, many job seekers struggle to identify the right hard and soft skills to include in their application. Although each organization will have unique needs and desired skill sets, it’s often advantageous to balance your technical expertise and leadership capabilities as you craft your bullet points. Hiring managers are drawn to well-rounded candidates who possess hard qualifications but can also thrive in collaborative, team-based environments. Showcasing a mix of hard skills and your interpersonal skills can often make all the difference in whether a company brings you in for an interview. Throughout this guide, we’ll compare and contrast each type of skill and walk you through how to effectively incorporate them into your resume.

What is a Hard Skill?

A hard skill is traditionally categorized as any technical aptitude or activity you perform within your daily workflows. While all forms of technology, programming languages, and software fall under this banner, hard skills extend far beyond just the tech space. Project management methodologies, industry regulations, and financial terminology are also considered hard skills. The key to identifying appropriate hard skills on your resume is to carefully evaluate the needs of the organization you’re applying for and perform research on cutting-edge terms within your industry. Not only will this align your resume with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), but it will also help you to brand yourself as a thought leader within your space.

What is a Soft Skill?

Unlike hard skills, which are technical in nature, soft skills are intended to highlight your communication, leadership, and interpersonal skill sets. Although showcasing your technical expertise is important, hiring managers also value candidates with a strong background in people management. That said, appropriate soft skills can sometimes be more difficult to identify. Many job seekers make the common mistake of including generic terms and empty cliches on their resumes. Most hiring managers will assume you have problem-solving skills, but they will not know you have expertise in client relations unless you express this in your content. Below, you’ll find a list of examples of soft skills you can use on your resume:

  • Adaptability
  • Client Relations
  • Change Management
  • Creativity
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Customer Service
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Employee Engagement
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Leadership
  • People Management
  • Relationship Building
  • Staff Development
  • Team Building
  • Team Management

Examples of Hard Skills for the Resume

To help you better understand what qualifies as a hard skill, we’ve put together a list of key terms you can incorporate into your resume. It’s important to know that hard skills differ significantly depending on your industry, so you’ll need to analyze job descriptions and conduct further research on emerging trends within your industry to address any gaps in your document. To provide you with further guidance and insights, we’ll be breaking down hard skills into additional categories to cover more ground across different industries.

Hard Skills for Technology Professionals

The tech space constantly evolves as companies deliver new innovative technologies, program languages, and software. While this list is incomplete, it does cover many important industry terms employers will likely want to see on your resume. To brand yourself as a thought leader within your field, you should always go the extra mile to incorporate deeper terminology when applicable. For example, instead of only mentioning machine learning and data science, you may want to include your expertise in deep learning, despite the term being less well known in some circles. If the right hiring manager sees that skill, it may make all the difference in whether you receive the job interview.

  • Active Directory
  • Automation
  • Big Data
  • C++
  • C#
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Analysis
  • Data Science
  • Database Development
  • Engineering Management
  • Machine Learning
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Network Administration
  • Hardware
  • HTML 5
  • Information Architecture
  • Information Technology
  • JavaScript
  • Linux
  • Oracle
  • Python
  • Software Development Lifecycles (SDLC)
  • Software Engineering
  • System Administration
  • UX Design

Hard Skills for Marketing & Finance Professionals

Now we’ll examine a different list of skill sets beyond those of the technology space. You’ll notice that while many of these skills don’t refer to software or data science, they are still technical in nature. As a financial analyst or accountant, understanding the nuances of specific financial regulations is essential for success in the position. As a marketing professional, understanding complex KPIs is important for measuring the success of social media campaigns and brand marketing initiatives. Featuring the right hard skills and qualifications is the first step in optimizing your document for the job search:

  • A/B Testing
  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
  • Accounting
  • Analytics
  • Brand Marketing
  • Campaign Development
  • Cost Accounting
  • CRM
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Digital Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Finance
  • Financial Analysis
  • Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)
  • GAAP
  • Google Analytics
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Lead Generation
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)
  • Marketing Research
  • Paid Search Campaigns
  • Product Marketing
  • Profit & Loss (P&L)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing

Hard Skills for Project Managers & Supply Chain Managers

Project management skills are complex because many of the qualifications needed to oversee the successful delivery of projects fall under both hard and soft skill categories. In addition to understanding the complexities of Agile development methodologies and resource allocation, a project manager must also be able to lead cross-functional teams effectively. Achieving a balance between these two types of skill sets will maximize the resume’s impact during your job search. Below, you’ll find a list of hard skills for project managers and supply chain management professionals:

  • Agile Methodology
  • Budget Management
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Category Management
  • Demand Forecasting
  • ERP Systems
  • Kanban
  • Lean Manufacturing
  • Logistics
  • Operations Management
  • Procurement
  • Program Management
  • Project Management
  • Project Management Office (PMO)
  • Project Roadmaps
  • Quality Assurance
  • Risk Management
  • Scrum
  • Six Sigma
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Strategic Sourcing
  • Supplier Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Supply Chain Solutions

How to Balance Hard Skills and Soft Skills on the Resume

Now that we’ve explored a variety of hard skills across a broad range of industries, we’ll examine how to balance them with soft skills to paint a complete picture of who you are as a professional. Having the proper technical knowledge for the job is an important aspect of the application process. Still, you need to collaborate effectively with people to apply these skill sets effectively within an organization’s work culture. For more examples, visit our resource page featuring the most important skill sets that employers love to see on resumes.

Demonstrate Leadership Qualifications

Interpersonal and people management skills are applicable in almost any type of position you want to pursue, regardless of industry. In the example below, the job seeker uses both hard skills and soft skills to advantage to demonstrate their advanced technical knowledge while drawing attention to their ability to interface effectively with client stakeholders and internal project teams:

Managed 10+ enterprise-level projects for a technology solutions company, led cross-functional teams with over 25+ personnel, developed project roadmaps, and coordinated with client stakeholders to ensure alignment with business requirements.

Brand Yourself as a Strong Communicator

Prospective employers value candidates who communicate effectively with diverse customers and team members. In the example below, the candidate provides insights into how they were able to convey the technical benefits of products in accessible language for prospective customers to drive sales. This demonstrates their advanced technical knowledge and their ability to communicate these concepts to non-technical audiences:

Educated prospective clients on the benefits of the HR software products, conveyed high-level technical concepts in accessible language for non-technical audiences, and built long-term client relationships to generate $1.5M in revenue over four years

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