Are You Underestimating "Hard Skills"?
Common questions that are routinely asked in an interview, no matter the type of position: “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?” The answers to these questions should be directly related to your skills. Too many people focus on personality traits when they hear this question. Stand out as a front runner by understanding what your skills are and how you can leverage them for your employer’s benefit.
We’ve asked employers what they look for in their job applicants, and you’d be shocked at how rarely we hear about skills. Employers are just as guilty of ignoring hard skills in favor of “someone with work ethic”. That’s a great goal but you are probably hamstringing yourself, looking for a unicorn that ticks a bunch of personality boxes but has no idea how to perform the tasks at hand. When an employer takes the time to dissect the required qualifications for a role, the resulting candidate pool is of remarkably higher quality. Taking the time to focus on the skills needed to complete the job’s tasks will help narrow the field of applicants to those that can do the job satisfactorily. If you’re not careful, you might end up hiring some dead weight that is always at their desk on time.
If You Can't Keep Up, Move Aside
There are 20 million more people employed today than there were during the Great Recession. Unemployment was at an all-time high of 10% in 2009, but now, the U.S. rate is nearing a record low of 3.7%. These figures mean a few things for both employers and prospective candidates in the job market. First, employers have found themselves having to take a more competitive approach to attract hires. Perks, benefits, and culture have become paramount in a potential hire’s decision making when faced with options. Companies have been gobsmacked by Millennials and Gen Z. They’ve been slapped in the face with cultural shifts these new workers demand from their employers. Though it seems that prospective new hires have an upper hand on available positions, the workforce has become a living environment where top talent is continually looking for the next best thing.
In this highly fluid and competitive landscape, how can one better their chances of landing the job? Identifying skills that are tangible and teachable, establishing which are needed for your desired job, and continuously developing these skills. Bringing an indisputable set of hard skills to the table, mixed with the appropriate soft skills will bring you into top consideration.
Hard Skills are the Defining Factor
Not to disregard soft skills, but when it comes to the job search, hard skills are the defining factor. These are teachable abilities and can easily be defined and measured. For example, typing. If a job requires a 90-words per minute typing speed, that can be measured. Through the progression of the modern workplace, testing a candidate on specific skills has become commonplace. Soft skills and interpersonal skills are considered subjective. These skills are difficult to quantify and leave room for a candidate to distort the truth in an interview. For instance, a claim of having a good work ethic. At what level is good? The level that is considered acceptable is all up to the interviewer. Since this is difficult to prove, providing examples is the best way to demonstrate these skills.
However, it will be painfully obvious quickly if one stretched the truth about their programming language skills. As an employer, emphasis on measuring one’s skill level is an efficient way to narrow down the field. Today’s generation is all about technology, getting the job done in the easiest way possible, and faster is usually better. Nobody has an over-abundance of time to waste. That’s why we focus directly on skills to match talent to employers’ jobs. It’s fast.
As a job seeker, research your desired role or career path to determine the hard skills you need that you do not possess. New technology, processes, products, and ideas come up every day. Training yourself to be a subject matter expert or specialist is what “top” candidates do. Knowing a little bit throughout several skills is nice, but the subject matter expert finds leadership success by mastering a focused skill set.
Top 10 Hard Skills to Add to Your Pepelwerk Talent Profile and Employer Job Posts
- Basic Computer Skills
- Windows or Mac Operating Systems
- MS Word
- Excel Spreadsheets
- PowerPoint Presentations
- Hard Communication Skills
- Foreign languages
- Digital communication
- Data Analysis
- Data mining
- Resource management
- Data engineering
- Database management
- Data presentation
- Certifications and Licenses
- Learning management systems, such as Blackboard, Canvas, or Eagle
- Data management systems, such as Colleague
- Healthcare related licenses
- Certificates, awards, badges, and industry-recognized credentials
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Marketing Campaign Management
- Google Analytics
- Content Management Systems (CMS), such as WordPress
- Social Media Marketing
- Project Management
- Agile Methodologies, such as Scrum
- Project Management Software, such as Trello and Zoho
- User Interface (UI) Design
- User Experience (UX) Design
- Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, etc.)
- Digital Product Design Software, such as InVision and Zeppelin
- Cloud Computing
- Cloud Architecture
- Storage and Data Management
- Networking Communication
- Cloud Middleware Technologies
- Cloud Applications, such as JSON, Rest, and RPC
- Mobile & Web Development
- Software Revision Control Systems
- Android Development
- iOS App Development
- Web Architecture and Development Framework
- Angular and Node Apps
- Network Structure & Security
- Encryption Algorithms
- Authentication Systems
- Risk Assessment
- Virtual and Host-based Firewalls
Develop and master your skills through pepelwerk’s Coaching and Education features. Take inventory of your skills and be sure to add them to your pepelwerk Talent Profile. Defining and focusing on your desired hard skills will not only land you the job, but it will also launch your career.