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The Difference Between Soft Skills and Hard Skills

        posted by , February 14, 2013

Soft skills are capabilities that are difficult to measure with testing. Hard skills can be tested with a well accepted testing methodology.

For example, there isn't a reliable test for innovation or leadership (other than years of business results). There are reliable tests for hard skills such as French language or Calculus.

Examples of Soft Skills

Soft skills are often related to personal effectiveness, social influence and creativity. Leadership, public speaking, innovation and problem solving are all soft skills.

Soft skills are difficult to teach to someone. There tends to be large differences in soft skills from one individual to another.

For example, Bill Clinton is considered a brilliant orator who captivates and inspires audiences. A person could study public speaking for their entire life and not reach the same level of achievement.

Soft skills are highly prized by business but are difficult to compare and measure.

Examples of Hard Skills

Hard skills are any skills that can be measured. This includes obvious things such as abilities in math, science and foreign languages.

If you believe in the validity of IQ tests then intelligence itself is a hard skill.

Professional Skills

Professional skills that have well defined methodologies or best practices aren't considered soft or hard skills.

For example, project management is a professional skill. Planning is a soft skill. The ability to use project management software is a hard skill.

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