Whittaker’s has just launched their latest creation – a blend of the Kiwi classic K Bar and chocolate. Perhaps this is a reflection of changing times – once all you needed were hard skills which allowed you to gnaw away on the original tooth-breaking bar, but now you require a combination of both the soft and hard working together.

You may have heard the terms ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills used by employers and careers staff. It is important to demonstrate both types of skill (backed up with examples) to potential employers on your CV and at an interview.

Hard skills are the subject matter and practical expertise you are learning during your studies. Hard skills tend to be more teachable and measurable than soft skills. A specific knowledge base, maths and numeracy, data analysis, report writing, and computer skills are all examples of hard skills. Employers want to see that you have developed these types of skills in your qualifications and work experience and have the ability to do a particular job.

Soft skills are people skills and self-management skills. These skills are sometimes referred to as employability skills or transferable skills, valuable to any job or career. Employers will take these into consideration when selecting which candidate is best the fit for the job.

People skills are how you interact and work with other people. Examples of people skills are:
Communication skills
Interpersonal/Relationship skills
Teamwork
Leadership

Self-Management Skills are how you manage yourself and your emotions, how you approach your work and react to different situations. Examples of self-management skills are:
Work ethic
Self-awareness
Emotion regulation
Self-confidence
Resilience

There are other soft skills that come from your study, learning and work experience. These skills include the abilities to problem solve, think critically, present, negotiate and manage.

Our young New Zealand athletes in Rio are good examples of hard and soft skills in action. Obviously all athletes have put in years of training to develop the hard skills (technique, physical attributes) needed to compete in their chosen sport. Work ethic is a given for all athletes as just getting to Rio takes not just talent, but huge commitment, drive and motivation. Behind each athlete is a support group of people – coaches, physios, managers, all of whom an athlete has to work with as a team. Some athletes in particular showed specific soft skills:

Empathy – Nicky Hamblin in the 5000m as she stopped to help another competitor
Energy and enthusiasm – Eliza McCartney’s obvious delight in competing and winning a bronze medal in pole vault
Communication skills – Lydia Ko’s eloquence as she talks to the media
Resilience – Sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie overcoming two disqualifications to take silver, and Trent Jones picking himself up to get across the line after crashing in a BMX race.

No-one is strong at every skill. However if you feel you are lacking an important soft skill, there are ways to improve. Get involved in volunteer roles, clubs and programmes on Campus and in the community. Look closely at your course work and any part-time work you have done – you’ll be surprised at the skills you have developed. Make sure your relevant hard and soft skills shine through on your CV and finally, be inspired by our Olympians and go for gold.

Related:
An excellent definition of soft/hard skills infographic from Business Phrases.net
For descriptions of soft skills see my colleague’s Grumpy Cat blog

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Advice, CVs, Personal development, Skills development

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