Today’s job market is ever-changing, and there’s an increasing focus on specific skill sets. While soft skills are on everyone’s lips, there’s still one set that’s much needed—and that’s hard skills.
They’re like a trusty toolbox—every profession needs them, and knowing how to use them can make a world of difference in your career. And they can, undoubtedly, add weight to your resume and confidence in your career aspirations.
Even if you’re just embarking on the journey of exploring your abilities, remember what Will Durant once wrote in his book, The Story of Philosophy: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
What Are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured. They’re competencies that your trade demands that are specific, quantifiable, and able to be fine-tuned over time.
Or if you’re a digital marketer, your knowledge of SEO, content creation, and data analytics would be your hard skills.
Or, imagine you’re a pianist. Your ability to read sheet music, knowledge of scales, and technical skill to play pieces of music—that’s the essence of hard skills. They’re as crucial to your performance as the keys on your piano, and without them, well, you’d be trying to play Beethoven on a kazoo.
Why Are Hard Skills Important?
Hard skills are the technical skills that you need to successfully complete tasks and responsibilities related to your job. And so they directly impact job performance and productivity.
Essentially, they show your employers not just what you know but what you can do. And there’s evidence of how important they actually are:
- According to a 2019 report published by The Society for Human Resource Management, it was found that a significant number of HR professionals reported difficulties in recruiting due to a lack of necessary hard skills among candidates. Therefore, this kind of skill set is still highly relevant for the job market.
- They can tackle tasks with precision, solve problems with creativity, and drive results with consistency. And based on LinkedIn’s 2020 report, hard skills such as analytical skills, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence are among the most sought-after. This suggests that proficiency in these areas could lead to improved job performance in related roles.
- In an age where technological advancements are transforming industries at lightning speed, hard skills offer the adaptability needed to thrive. A 2017 report from Burning Glass Technologies highlighted that roles requiring digital skills tend to pay more and are growing faster than those that do not. This implies there’s a strong link between digital hard skills and job performance, making hard skills future-proof.
So in the hustle and bustle of today’s world, hard skills are your proof of competence. And they can help you navigate through the dense jungle of job applications and the steep cliffs of promotions.
Types of Hard Skills
Let’s take a closer look at the most prominent categories:
- Technical skills. These skills are often acquired through specialized training or education and are the building blocks for any role in a technical field. They may include financial management, data analysis, or writing.
- Computer skills. As we navigate through the digital era, computer skills are more important than ever. Whether it’s knowing your way around Microsoft Office, programming in Python, or designing in Adobe Suite, these skills are a must-have for the modern workplace.
- Administrative skills. These are the skills required to keep an office running smoothly. Think about organizing schedules, maintaining files, or managing communications. In other words, these are the skills that help keep the chaos in check and productivity in play.
- Language skills. Speaking, reading, or writing in a second (or third, or fourth!) language not only broadens your personal horizons but also opens up new professional opportunities in our increasingly globalized world.
So whether you’re looking for a career change or just starting your professional journey, acquiring a set of hard skills will tremendously boost your chances for success.
Top hard skills in 2023
According to a 2023 article on LinkedIn, the most sought-after hard skills are:
- Software Development. As the Spielberg of the digital world, software developers craft intricate programs and applications that keep our tech-centric lives running smoothly. Their work underpins everything from our smartphone apps to our office software.
- SQL (Structured Query Language). In the vast sea of data, SQL serves as the compass, helping us navigate and retrieve valuable insights from databases. It’s like a treasure map for data miners.
- Finance. Whether you’re balancing budgets like Scrooge or directing investment strategies like Buffett, finance skills are essential to any organization’s economic health. They help ensure that businesses don’t just make money but also keep it.
- Python. Python is the lingua franca of coding—versatile, user-friendly, and hugely powerful. Whether you’re building web applications or running complex data analysis, Python is a language worth mastering.
- Java. A timeless classic like The Godfather, Java is a programming language widely used for building enterprise-scale applications. Its ability to run on any platform makes it a universal favorite.
- Data Analysis. Data analysis is like being a digital detective, finding patterns and extracting insights from a sea of information. It’s all about turning raw data into meaningful narratives that businesses can act upon.
- Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is the tech equivalent of magic—it makes data and applications accessible from anywhere, transforming how businesses operate. It’s the Aladdin’s lamp of the digital age.
- Operations. Operations skills are all about keeping the engine of a company running smoothly. It’s like being the conductor of a business orchestra, ensuring every section comes in at the right time and pitch.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM skills are key to building and maintaining customer satisfaction. It’s like being the host of the party, ensuring all guests—aka customers—have their needs met and leave with a smile.
Each of these skills is a star performer in the professional sphere, opening doors to numerous opportunities in 2023 and beyond.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
You may ask yourself, “What’s the difference between hard skills and soft skills?” The answer is simple.
Imagine you’re watching a buddy movie like Lethal Weapon. One character is about communication, teamwork, and emotional intelligence, mirroring our equally treasured soft skills. And the other is all about facts, details, and specific knowledge, much like our beloved hard skills.
They might seem as different as night and day, but it’s their combination that makes the story engaging and complete. That’s exactly how hard and soft skills complement each other in the professional world.
Let’s break it down a bit:
|These are job-specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured
|These are interpersonal (people) skills, character traits, and communication abilities
|Software development, data analysis, Java programming, financial planning
|Leadership, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, adaptability
|How to learn
|Usually acquired through books, school, or on-the-job training
|Often learned and honed through personal experiences and interpersonal interactions
In the professional ecosystem, it’s not an either-or situation between Riggs and Murtaugh (a.k.a., hard and soft skills). For a successful career, you need to be fluent in both languages.
Hard skills might get you through the door, but soft skills help you collaborate, adapt, and thrive once you’re in.
Examples of Hard Skills
Every trade has its own unique set of hard skills. Let’s take a closer look at the important skills needed in various fields.
- Project management. Picture yourself as the director of a blockbuster movie, orchestrating various aspects to ensure everything runs smoothly. In essence, that’s what project management does—plan, execute, and oversee projects to ensure they’re completed efficiently and effectively.
- Data analysis. Remember the thrill of detective stories, where the protagonist uncovers hidden truths from seemingly insignificant clues? Data analysis follows a similar plotline, uncovering business insights from heaps of raw data.
- Foreign language proficiency. Being multilingual in today’s globalized world is like having a universal remote—it opens up countless channels of communication and collaboration. It’s an essential skill for roles that require cross-border interactions.
- Graphic design. If your professional life were a comic book, graphic design would be your superpower. It’s the art of creating visual content to communicate messages—applying visual hierarchy and page layout techniques in a persuasive, engaging way.
- SEO & SEM. Think of these as the X-factor in a talent show—they make your online content stand out amid the noise. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) are skills used to increase website visibility and ranking on search engines.
- Bookkeeping. Bookkeeping involves maintaining financial records and processing invoices. It’s like being a careful accountant in a business, conducting audits to ensure financial transparency and integrity.
- Programming languages. Knowing a programming language like Python, Java, or C++ is incredibly powerful. It’s like having a magic spell that lets you build, modify, and troubleshoot the software that powers our digital world.
Each of these skills shines a spotlight on a different aspect of a job role, making you a more well-rounded, versatile candidate. Remember, these are just examples—the best set of hard skills for you will depend on your industry, role, and career goals.
What hard skills should I put on my resume?
If you need a few ideas for a list of hard skills to put on your resume, here are some relevant examples:
- Computer savvy. Regardless of what field of work you’re in and how non-tech-savvy you consider yourself, computer knowledge is always one of the top hard skills.
- Data management. Every business works with a ton of data. You should also be able to analyze results, understand guidelines and definitions, review them, keep things up-to-date, and create reports.
- Scheduling. Scheduling is deciding (and knowing) how to get the job done effectively, what tools to use, and how to organize your time.
- Research. Research skills are something you’ll always need when preparing for a job. It’s important to get familiar with a new industry, gather information, and make a plan on where to begin.
- Financial planning. There are a great number of hard skills in the finance category. These include accounting, budgeting, financial planning, cash flow management, and much more. While you won’t necessarily need to master all these, you do need to work well with numbers.
As mentioned, you always need to make sure your resume reflects your own strengths and professional abilities.
How to Acquire Hard Skills: Tips From Mindvalley Trainers
Learning hard skills may seem like a long journey. However, with the right guidance, you can ease into this process for yourself. Here are some tips that can help you:
1. Make sure your career goals are SMART
Without a clear destination in mind, you might find yourself drifting aimlessly in the vast ocean of knowledge. So setting career goals not only provides direction but also allows you to focus your efforts on acquiring the skills that are most relevant and beneficial to your journey.
Aligning your skill acquisition with your career aspirations ensures that every step you take brings you closer to your ultimate professional destination.
And in the voyage of learning, remember to set SMART career goals:
- Specific. When you’re certain about what you want to achieve, it’s more likely to happen. For example, instead of wishing to “earn more,” you can be more specific: “I want to earn 10 thousand dollars a month.”
- Measurable. How will you know that your goal has been accomplished? Focus on answering this question. You can think in terms of “knowing how to perform a new skill”, or “my workload is done in 30% less time.”
- Achievable and adjustable. Be realistic regarding your goals. And always consider that no matter how much and how hard you work, life still happens. Even though it’s difficult to accept, sometimes life has something greater in store for you than you thought.
- Relevant. How do my actions add up to my main life vision? How are they aligned with everything else that I want in my life, besides the career aspect?
- Time-bound. Set a flexible deadline for your goals. Realistically speaking, when can this goal be achieved? And what is the benefit of achieving it by that due date?
When you set your most desired vision for the future, you may easily find out what the next skills to learn are. And as Jon Butcher, trainer of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Online Quest, says, “The whole secret to a successful life is to find out what one’s destiny is to do, and then do it.”
2. Find your preferred online courses
Online courses are like pit stops where you can refuel your knowledge tank. Websites like Coursera, edX, or Mindvalley offer a plethora of courses spanning various hard skills.
You can learn anything from programming, data analysis, and building a successful brand to digital marketing, graphic design, and becoming a great coach.
Here are a few options available at Mindvalley:
- Building an Unstoppable Brand with Jeffrey Pearlman. You can master every step of creating market resonance for your brand through practical tools you can apply for instant company-wide breakthroughs.
- Business Freedom Blueprint with Eric Edmeades. It’s an online program towards automated wealth, lifestyle freedom, and limitless growth and impact—all by creating a highly efficient business. As you progress through the program, you’ll experience rapid breakthroughs: including your key internal processes, team and role management, marketing, and even your leadership skills.
- Certified HoloBody Coach with Ronan Diego. This program offers all the practical tools you need to embark on your coaching journey. It goes far beyond traditional methods and provides you with deeper insights into techniques to become a holistic well-being guide.
Expanding your knowledge is a superpower that will not only enhance your hard skills but also improve every aspect of your life.
“You can learn to unlimit and expand your mindset, your motivation, and your methods to create a limitless life,” says Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest. “When you do what others won’t, you can live how others can’t.”
3. Create an action plan
Planning stands as a cornerstone when it comes to learning hard skills. Consider it your GPS, guiding you through the complex terrain of knowledge acquisition. Without a detailed plan, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad of information available, akin to navigating a bustling city without a map.
In developing your plan, consider your ultimate goal and break it down into smaller, more achievable milestones. These can be like pit stops on a road trip, giving you a chance to refuel your motivation and assess your progress.
Each step you take towards your goal is a stepping stone, leading you closer to mastering your chosen skill. Setting clear, attainable objectives will provide you with a sense of direction and purpose, keeping you focused and motivated during your learning journey.
Furthermore, having a well-defined plan can enhance your efficiency by helping you allocate your resources and time more effectively. It allows you to anticipate potential challenges and prepare for them in advance, leading to a smoother and more enjoyable learning experience.
“If you want to have a happy, successful, balanced, [and] fulfilling life, you’ve got to take responsibility for figuring it out for yourself,” explains Jon in his Mindvalley Quest. “There is a magic formula, but that formula will be unique to you.”
Skill Up for Success
Hard and soft skills together are an ideal combination. These skill sets ensure that you’ll always know how to act according to the situation, communicate clearly, be a great team member, and solve problems easily.
And if you need some guidance on your journey to supercharging your career, Mindvalley is the place for you. With transformational insights from quests delivered by expert trainers, you can find valuable information to expand your skills and knowledge.
You can start with:
- Lifebook Online by Jon and Missy Butcher
- Superbrain by Jim Kwik
- Building an Unstoppable Brand with Jeffrey Pearlman
- Business Freedom Blueprint with Eric Edmeades
Don’t be afraid to go out there and make the most of your professional journey. Your dream career is waiting for you.
Images generated on Midjourney.