Mastering a hard skill takes time, consistency and dedication
Careers advice

What do we mean by Hard Skills, and which are the most common ones?

Mastering a hard skill takes time, consistency and dedication

There seems to be a peculiar polarity between hard and soft skills and not just because they are quite different in terms of what they represent but also because they are usually considered as opposed ones. But despite formal differences, employers appreciate a good balance between the two, namely because having excessive soft skills but lacking the hard ones or vice versa is not good for a modern professional. It is also true that, at the end of the day, hard or so-called technical skills are the ones that allow you to get the job done. To be precise, ‘hard skills are teachable abilities that can be defined and measured much more than soft skills. Hard abilities are easy to quantify. Soft abilities are personal-driven and subjective skills.’

What are the prevalent, most common hard skills?

Not all hard skills are the same for all industries and each working position requires a specific set of technical abilities that need some kind of knowledge, such as a ‘a degree or certificate, foreign language knowledge, programming, mathematics.’ Here are the most common hard skills required nowadays:

Basic Computer knowledge

No matter the working environment, employers will require at least a basic level of using the computer. For example, you should be confident enough with the Office Suite (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint) in order to obtain the job you want. If you are unable to attend training courses, choose a self-taught method and opt for online courses that will help you optimize time and resources.

The ability to perform Data Analysis

Data Analytics in its modern representation has a long history, going back to the 19th century “when Frederick Winslow Taylor initiated time management exercises”.

This hard skill is based on a deep knowledge of statistics. The most known forms of Data Analytics are used as powerful tools in business in order to obtain strategic insights and personalize the customer experience. The modern methodologies are predictive, big data, cognitive, prescriptive, descriptive, enterprise decision management, retail, augmented, web and call analytics. This is usually a very requested skill in big data companies, but not only – analysis ability is strategic across many industries.

Knowing a foreign language at a business level

How many foreign languages do you really master? This is an important hard skill that can unlock many interesting working opportunities. Once in a while perform a self-assessment test in order to understand if you need to catch-up or improve. Did you know that, for example, the most useful languages to learn in 2019 are English, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, German, and Italian. Generally, English remains the unbeatable official business correspondence language.

Planning abilities

This is a hard skill that is maybe less discussed but it implies the knowledge of planning tools crucial for managing projects and resources. It is related to ‘business fields such as marketing, project management, engineering, business analysis, sales, logistics, construction.’ Acquiring excellent planning skills takes time and involves a certain amount of experience. Each project is unique, and it requires a different approach and personalized tools. Being flexible and always keen to learn new planning methodologies is the key ingredient.

If you are looking to improve or gain faster one of the above hard skills you can’t miss a Wall Street Journal bestseller Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career, written by the Canadian author Scott Young.

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