by Makayla Roth, HR Intern | Workathlon
If you have been applying to jobs recently, you may have noticed that there are some new requirements for certain jobs. The new section of “soft skills” seems to be the new part that all employers are looking for. But there isn’t much of an explanation of what soft skills even are. What’s the difference between hard and soft? How do I get soft skills? These questions plus various other questions tend to come up.
So what is it really?
To start, let’s define the ‘opposite’ of soft skills; the ‘hard’ ones. Hard skills are the technical skills that are certifiable. For example, computer programming or being able to type. These skills are tangible and can be proven easily. These are the type of skills that you can learn and be taught.
While on the other hand, soft skills are a mix of social, emotional and communication skills that cannot be measured using a tangible basis. In other words, it’s the people skills that can’t really be taught.
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So which ones should you focus on?
In the past, hard skills are what all employers have been looking for. What school you’ve been to, or the highest level of certification you’ve gotten has always been the most important. This makes sense since in order to get certain jobs you needed to get the proper certification. While this is still the case in a lot of workplaces, there has been a recent shift in focus. A lot of jobs now focus on the communication aspect, especially in the hospitality sector.
Studies show that now, 77% of employers think soft skills are just as important as hard skills. This is especially true in the hospitality sector because hospitality is actually more about the customer experience and being able to handle than it is the hard technical skills.
The technical skills you can always get later, but the soft skills are the people skills that can’t always be taught. These are the type of skills that you develop over time through practice, personality and exposure. For example, the more you handle customer service complaints, the better equipped you will be when it comes to handling difficult customer situations. Or, the more outgoing your personality, the more you will be able to make sales. It all comes from your personality or your experiences.
Does this mean you forget all about the technical skills?
While the shift in focus to soft skills is common, it is not the only focus for all jobs. A lot of jobs still need to have these hard skills in order to get the job done correctly. But with that said, in the hospitality sector, a lot of times, employers will look for these soft skills more. Training someone to be able to handle hard situations is not easy. You have to have the skills of being level headed, fast thinker, and have excellent communication skills.
This is especially true if you want to move up in positions within the hospitality sector. For example, you may need more technical skills or know-how in order to use certain equipment if you are in housekeeping. But if you want to move up to the more managerial positions, your ability to communicate clearly is mandatory. For example, as a hotel manager, you need to be able to communicate clearly with both other employees and other guests. In this way, having these soft skills are more important than being able to work a piece of equipment.
With that said, having a mix of both technical skills and soft skills are best no matter your profession. A lot of jobs you still need some basic certification while still being able to communicate clearly. Having these types of soft skills are very important since they can also give you confidence in what you are doing. So either way, look into working for both!