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Angela Kunawicz 7th February 2023

Hard Skills v Soft Skills: How Important Are They?

Discover the main differences between hard and soft skills and find out why having strong soft skills can lead to greater career progression and long-term job security.

SUCCESS in today’s workplace isn’t just about how many qualifications you have, what languages you speak or how skilled you are at your trade.

Employers are actively searching for high achievers and creatives who boast excellent social skills, are real team players and have an outstanding work ethic.

And while hard skills are important, soft skills are just as vital for a positive work environment, improved collaboration, and increased productivity.

A recent LinkedIn survey concluded that 95 per cent of executives deemed soft skills as equally or more important than technical abilities when evaluating potential job candidates. Furthermore, a study by the National Soft Skills Association revealed that 96 per cent of employers believed that soft skills were important to overall job success.

“We’ve found that fun team bonding activities helped to develop our soft skills. By pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, we can tap into our skills in communication, creativity, problem-solving, time management, and adaptability.”
Pamela Welsh Blueberry Director

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills, also known as non-cognitive skills, are personal qualities and people skills that employees need to thrive in the workplace. These attributes are important in most professions. They include:

  • Communication & listening skills
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Good work ethic
  • Time management
  • Empathy
  • Perseverance

What are Hard Skills?

Hard skills refer to the job-related knowledge, expertise, and abilities that employees need to perform their job duties well. They could refer to an academic qualification, a vocational certification or experience in how to use specific tools, equipment, or software. They Include:

  • Computer & analytics
  • Marketing
  • Presentation
  • Languages
  • Management
  • Design
  • Technology

“Unsurprisingly in our business, communication skills are key,” said Blueberry Director Pamela Welsh. “It’s imperative for our team to be able to talk-the-talk, but we value listening skills even more. You need to be able to understand a client’s needs, grasp their pain points and deal with any challenges that may crop up in a professional manner. We’ve found that fun team bonding activities have helped to develop our soft skills. By pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, we can tap into our skills in communication, creativity, problem-solving, time management, and adaptability.”

Blueberry team-building activities have ranged from The Three Peaks Challenge, rounders in Hyde Park and competing in a city-wide scavenger hunt. Regardless of how talented your workforce is, it’s crucial for businesses to help their employees foster these personality traits and social cues.

While acknowledging the vital role soft skills play in the workplace, Blueberry also encourages its employees to demonstrate the following skillset and core values:

- Team Player

- Results Orientated

- Integrity

- Thirst for Knowledge

- Accountability

- Pride

- Determination

Speaking on the BBC CEO Secrets series, Luis von Ahn, co-founder, and CEO of language-learning app Duolingo, admitted that he’d underestimated the importance of soft skills.

“As a CEO, the one thing that I wish that I’d concentrated on earlier was my social skills,” said Von Ahn, who was a full-time computer scientist, before Duolingo made its mark.

“When I was growing up, I wanted to be an academic, a researcher, a mathematician, or a computer scientist. I did not spend any effort developing my social skills. My job is mainly dealing with people [now]. So, you know I’ve had to catch up a lot. I wish I had told myself, develop your social skills more. A lot of management skills are just social skills.”

Good communicators work better with others and are generally happier and more successful in the workplace. In the long run, soft skills help people to become better leaders, make better decisions, and overcome challenges. It’s evident that hard and soft skills complement each other in the workplace. But to be a well-rounded, significant, and successful employee, you need to possess both.

[Copyright © 2023 Angela Kunawicz & Blueberry Marketing Solutions. All rights reserved.] 

Written By Angela Kunawicz
Angela is an award winning journalist, videographer and marketeer who has worked in regional and international media outlets across the UK and Middle East, including the BBC and Abu Dhabi Media Company. With a flair for human interest stories, hard news and campaigns, she has also been commended for her outstanding photography and video productions.

Also written by Angela