Aug 06, 2019

Nowadays, several people are unemployed or under-employed. They have tried everything possible to ace the interview and get their desired jobs. Unfortunately, it always seems like they do not have what the employers are looking for. Most people wrongly label employers as unpleasant and they think the HR staff is responsible for their woes. The truth, however, is that employers are simply on the lookout for employees that will add values to the workplace. This means they have to make a really hard decision and choose only those that they are sure will fit the bill.

As someone on a job search, there is a need to shift attention from perceived employers’ wickedness to what can be done to be employable. Acquiring and developing skills that will help you to impress the employers and get you that desired job should be your major goal.

A skill is the capacity to do something well. It is the technique by which things are done exceptionally.

Skills are innate but can also be learned; if innate, constant use and development makes the skills better and more useful. The employers don’t just want to know or see it in your CV that you have the skills, they also want you to demonstrate that you indeed have those skills you have laid claim to.  Most times, your ability to do this is a major factor that determines whether you get hired or not.

When it comes to classifying skills that employers are looking for, we can group them into two broad classes – hard skills and soft skills.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are skills that are teachable and can be learned anywhere, including in the classroom or even online. They are the skills that help you get the job. Employers surely are on the lookout for these skills in prospective employees; they assume you have acquired these skills either during a university course or from additional professional training. They are not innate but learned.

Hard skills are also easily quantifiable. It is worth noting that hard skills are particular to the job. For example, a person looking to be employed at an accounting firm must know how to use some basic accounting software. Similarly, anyone seeking a job at a financial institution should know what a financial model is and how it works. These are skills that must be acquired if you wish to land a job or move forward in your choice of career.

A few examples of hard skills include:

  • Clinical skills (pharmacy)
  • Marketing skills (marketing)
  • Phlebotomy skills (nursing and medicine)
  • Computer skills (accounting)
  • Financial modelling (finance)

Since hard skills are field-specific, the list is inexhaustible. To improve your chances of landing a job in any field, you must find out what hard skills are needed in that field and master them. This will make a whole lot of difference in your job search. 

Soft Skills

Soft skills are skills that are not necessarily unique to any job. They are mostly innate but can be learned over time too. Just like hard skills help you get jobs; soft skills help you stay on the job. Even though soft skills are not easily quantifiable, employers still want to know if you indeed have them or not, since they are crucial to your success on the job. These skills help you relate to your employers and fellow employees.

Comparing hard skills to soft skills, it might be difficult to say which is more important. However, some studies have shown that employers are more interested in soft skills. Soft skills cannot be taught on the job but can be developed or improved with use. Hard skills can be learned, which is why many companies organise training for their new staff.

Examples of soft skills that employers are looking for are:

  • Interpersonal communication skills: It is one of the important skills that employers look out for. It is almost impossible to employ anyone that appears not to exhibit this trait. It is the process of communicating which also involves the exchange of ideas between two or more people. Good interpersonal communication skills or a lack of it can easily be detected by an employer. HR officers observe the way you respond to questions during your interview and how you communicate your ideas without fear or shyness. They also observe how well you maintain eye contact with them since it shows courage and confidence and is vital for effective communication
  • Teamwork: This skill is extremely valued in the workplace. Employers are always on the lookout for individuals who can work effectively in a team. Since there will be at least more than one employee in any company, each person is expected to be able to work in synergy with others to achieve organisational goals.
  • Leadership skills: Employers are looking to employ leaders. It is the ability to do the right thing and influence others to do the same without too much supervision. People who demonstrate their ability to take the initiative when it is required are more likely to get employed than those who simply want to follow instructions.
  • Empathy:This is the ability to understand the feelings of others. This skill is particularly important if you will be leading a team or working closely with other employees. You must be able to recognise the way they feel to know how to motivate them to work. It is seeing things from other people’s point of view. For people in an organisation to get along well, employers will need to employ empathetic people.
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills: This is simply the ability to think outside the box. The ability to come up with solutions to problems in a short time. Employers look for people with analytical skills. 


Both hard skills and soft skills are vital to get employed. Employees seek these skills in prospective employees and only hire people who they are convinced can deliver them. A good combination of soft skills and hard skills relevant to your career, will make you the top choice for any HR personnel in any organisation you apply to.

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