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Soft and hard competences

Soft and hard competences
Soft and hard competences

Hard competences are a keyword that often comes up in the context of looking for a job. They are the ones that are highlighted in the CV and in cover letters. They are to emphasize the candidate’s matching to the job profile and ensure victory in the race for a full-time job. Currently, HR experts, wanting to build close-knit and effective teams of committed employees, pay more and more attention to soft skills. So when creating your CV, remember to consider both types of competences.

  • What are competencies?
  • Hard competences / hard skills
  •  Soft skills / soft skills
  • Can develop the hard and soft competences?
  • Are hard and soft skills verified during the interview?

What are competencies?

Competences are defined as the general predispositions of a given person, i.e. all the skills and features that allow them to carry out the designated professional tasks. Possessing a specific competence is associated with the use of certain resources of knowledge to efficiently solve the problems before us. This knowledge may concern the technical aspects of performing various activities (e.g. operating computer programs) as well as various aspects of interpersonal functioning. A competent person is therefore one who has the appropriate skills and qualities to perform a given function, expressing himself on certain issues and taking responsibility for them.

 Hard competences / hard skills:

Hard competences (hard skills) are measurable skills that we acquire in the course of study, for example in school, university, through training, courses, student internships, internships or work. how well we have mastered certain “tools” useful in working life. Take a look at the following list of examples of hard competencies to understand what kind of “tools” we mean.

List of examples of hard competences / hard skills

  • Driving license
  • Knowledge of foreign languages,
  • Knowledge of programming languages
  • Ability to use computer programs
  • Specialized courses
  • Service cash register
  • Ability to issue invoices and other documents
  • Coordinating the work of the warehouse

Hard competencies are often assessed using the binary system, so you either have them or you don’t. That is why their possession can usually be confirmed through diplomas, certificates, and other documents that can be obtained in the course of a professional career. Note that hard competences consist of both specialist knowledge and the practical skills of its use. Therefore, if the candidate’s CV includes information about the invoicing skills, it is expected that he not only knows how to use the computer program used for this purpose but also has the appropriate knowledge and knows the applicable legal regulations.

 Soft skills / soft skills:

Soft skills are psychophysical features as well as social and interpersonal skills that are usually related to the personality of an individual. They often have a great impact on the dynamics of group work, and thus on the relations between employees and the effects of their work. This is why recruiters consider them on a par with hard skills, and sometimes even attach greater importance to them. Below you will find a list of examples of soft skills broken down into 9 main areas.

List of examples of soft skills

  • Communication: clarity, confidentiality, active listening, effective verbal communication, providing feedback
  • Teamwork: crisis management, ability to cooperate, mediate and negotiate
  • Adaptation: curiosity, self-control, decision making, optimism, openness to new experiences, self-confidence, organization of own work, independence
  • Problem-solving: analytical, lateral thinking, taking initiative, perseverance, the ability to observe, knowledge of persuasion methods
  • Creativity: divergent thinking, reframing, innovation, creativity
  • Work ethic: honesty, responsibility, adherence to discipline, commitment
  • Interpersonal skills: empathy, sense of humor, sensitivity, patience, tolerance
  • Time management: setting the right priorities, planning, delegating tasks, dealing with stress
  • Leadership: project management, selflessness, intercultural intelligence, humility

Soft skills are particularly desirable when working in the sales, marketing and managerial industries. However, this does not mean that they are also not important in other professions. Make sure you choose the right skills on your CV and describe them properly.

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Can develop the hard and soft competences?

Yes and no. In this area, there are many differences between hard and soft skills. We acquire hard competences entirely in the course of learning. When we are born, we are completely deprived of them, and only through intentional activities (e.g. studying at school, participating in courses or internships) do we go up to the next levels of competence. How easy it is for us to learn new hard skills depends on a number of factors, including the level of fluid intelligence, but as a rule, almost every person is able to become an expert in a specific field, if only the appropriate amount of time and effort is devoted to it.

Different with soft skills:

Simply put, everyone has a specific nature, and modifying it is difficult, and sometimes even impossible. There are training where, by learning certain attitudes, you can increase your level of assertiveness. It is also possible to develop your own methods of coping with stress or learn to provide feedback. However, it is extremely difficult to change someone’s level of sensitivity or sense of humor. After all, everyone is born one. Determining the level of our soft skills is very important, especially at the beginning of a career or at the stage of its planning. Such self-diagnosis will allow us to set ourselves professional tasks that will not be in contradiction with personality traits, and at the same time will allow us to release our natural potential.

Are hard and soft skills verified during the interview?

Yes of course! It is relatively easy to verify hard competences. The recruiter can check the knowledge of a foreign language by conducting part of the interview in it. The use of computer programs can be assessed through testing. You must be prepared for the fact that a potential employer will want to know the level of key skills for a given position or ask for documents confirming the acquisition of appropriate hard competences. As already mentioned, the evaluation of soft skills is almost always subjective. It can be based on the general impression you made on the recruiter (e.g. whether you were actively listening during the interview or not showing excessive tension), and it could also be the result of a simulation, e.g. working in a group arranged for the purpose of the interview.