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Technical Skills VS Soft Skills: Which Are More Important?


By Goran Bogunovic, December 28, 2017

If job interviews were sincere:

– Why do you want to work for us?

– Well, I’m very passionate towards not starving to death.

You probably saw dozens of similar memes that ridicule the hiring processes in the modern age. No doubt about it, job hunting often feels like a job itself as you have to be at the top of your game, mingle around and network, and try your best to leave a good impression. All of this can make you feel a bit anxious.

Grabbing hiring officers’ attention is the first big challenge. Once you get their attention – you are granted a chance to be heard.

However, afore actually hitting the interview, you need to pin down your strengths, outline your technical and soft skills, and define what makes you a desirable candidate. In the sea of other people aiming for the same position as you, why should you be granted an employment?

The competition is harsh, especially because knowledge is more accessible than ever before – all thanks to the internet. The digital age contributed to democratizing education. With online courses and a handful of quality articles, you can learn something new every day and therefore avoid falling into a skill rot. The resources are there, but it’s up to you what you will do with them.

Technical skills are perhaps more tangible, easier to learn and simpler to test, but what about soft skills? Could it be that they are at least equally important? Should you even perceive the two through binary categories?

Technical Skills VS Soft Skills

Gaining a Fuller Understanding of Technical Skills

One of the biggest mistakes you can make while pursuing your career is to think your learning stops once you hang your diploma on the wall. With this kind of attitude, you might as well throw it into the trash.

Let’s talk about technical skills.

Technical skills revolve around your professional knowledge and abilities which are specific to your industry. They are concrete and obtained not just through formal education, but through work experience, various types of training, self-learning, informal education, internships, observing, and listening. Once listed in a CV – technical skills serve as an indicator of your expertise.

In addition to the exact job-related skills, other skills that can be classified as technical (or hard) are, for example – the knowledge of foreign languages or useful tools.

The competition is harsh, especially because knowledge is more accessible than ever before - all thanks to the internet.
Apart from situations where companies seek precisely highly-qualified experts for executive positions (usually seniors), your technical skills don’t necessarily have to be at the highest level. However, it is essential to showcase your experience and what skills you are currently working on perfecting. This signals recruiters that you are indeed an ambitious candidate who invests in personal and professional development, and therefore – someone who earns extra points for his career efforts. As a matter of fact, nurturing that thirst for new knowledge reveals a character of someone who’s committed to lifelong learning. Companies love that type of fresh-thinkers as they can benefit from them. A lot.  

That explains the trend of job-hopping. This career approach wasn’t always perceived blessedly. It was interpreted as an inability to hold a job position in a certain company. But, today, it is praised as a smart strategy in a competitive market. Of course, it can be a two-edged sword for those who are not savvy enough to recognize when it is the right time to move on and when it’s wise to stay.

Job-hopping helps you earn new skills, both technical and soft. As you change your work environment, you will face new challenges – be it the type of colleagues you collaborate with, the new role you find yourself in, or the new tools you have to master.

Whereas you as an employee can take nice advantage of snooping around for new job opportunities, HR recruiters face a difficult task of retaining top talent within their company. So, as you see – the new work landscape is not easy for the employers either: companies cannot afford to hold a passive position anymore.     

Technical Skills VS Soft Skills

Soft Skills Are Gaining Momentum

According to the WEF’s Executive Summary (Future of Jobs), many industries will go through disruption and competition for specific roles will get more fierce as the years go by. Recruiters will also experience difficulties in this setting, mainly in means of properly filtering out candidates and acquiring top talent. Skill demands (in technical means) will continue to evolve rapidly across all sorts of industries, predominantly because of innovations in technology.

Whereas you as an employee can take nice advantage of snooping around for new job opportunities, HR recruiters face a difficult task of retaining top talent within their company.

This is why employers started putting more weight on soft skills as new logical criteria for differentiating candidates. These can include positive traits and skills such as good assertive communication, high emotional and social intelligence, or willingness to share knowledge with others.

For example, if recruiters have two candidates for the position of a web developer and they both have pretty much the same professional experience and the set of technical skills – the thing that will help them make a decision is their characters and soft skills. That is what separates adequate candidates from the perfect ones. Recruiters need to assess how well each candidate would fit into the company culture.

Some of the soft skills that are highly appreciated include teamwork, effective communication, problem-solving, leadership, decisiveness, time management, and flexibility. As a potential employee, you need to provide some sort of proof that you will, in fact, be pleasant to work with and share the values of the company you’re looking to nest in.

So, what you can do (i.e. your expertise) is obviously important, but how you do it (e.g. your approach towards solving a task or the type of solutions you propose) and in the end – who you are should not be disregarded. As a matter of fact, the last two can outweigh your technical skills.

Great talent is not so easy to find, so if you show your potential, curiosity, and eagerness to learn – HR officers with a good eye might perceive you as a precious stone that just needs a bit more grinding and training. If you are indeed a rare bird that needs a chance to gain a bit of more specific experience, your technical skills (or better say – the lack of them) will fall into a shadow compared to your ideal worker profile.

What does this mean for you, as someone who is looking to rise above the noise and secure a job spot for yourself?

Technical Skills VS Soft Skills

Reaching Out to the World

It’s crucial to understand recruiters don’t hire you just for your skills, but for you yourself, as a wholesome person. Times have changed and doing things the old way is simply not good enough. You need to be proactive in order to succeed. Sometimes, it feels excruciatingly hard to communicate your values and originality in the right way, so you don’t end up being perceived as a one-trick pony. One of the best ways to take full control of your personal brand and showcase your technical and soft skills, as well as personal traits – is to launch a personal website.

According to the WEF’s Executive Summary (Future of Jobs), many industries will go through disruption and competition for specific roles will get more fierce as the years go by.

Let’s do some reverse engineering to see how this could work for you: check out what Katie Simon is doing. She is a founder of moremoneyfor.me and an awesome example of a venturesome, agile young person who understood the pulse of the modern age. Her website is aimed at Millennials who share the same entrepreneurial spirit and want more from their lives.

Katie was featured on renowned websites such as Lifehacker, Business Insider, and Independent, specifically because of her career approach and awesome resume she crafted that got her an interview at Google and more than 20 different startups.

As you take one glance at her eye-catching, yet simple website – you will notice there are four main sections – Blog, About, Hire me, and Contact. This way, Katie is not only using her expertise to educate readers and share her personal experience, but also to build a personal brand through blogging. She identified clearly what she is good at, she has really good references and a “strong case”, so to say. This helped her monetize her knowledge and help others build careers from scratch with her consulting services.

What about your personal website? What creative project do you have in mind? What are your skills, where does your uniqueness hide? Today, it’s fairly easy to make a website and you don’t even need to know how to write a single line of code. Check out our list of free website builders and start building your online presence. If you want to make it personal and catchy, there’s no better choice than .ME!


Author:

Goran Bogunovic

Now, you're probably wondering how I got here! Running a marketing agency, educating people about branding, and helping you to develop your own presence online. To understand, you’ll need to follow me @Domain.Me

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