Hard Skills

What are ‘Hard Skills’

Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured, such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs. By contrast, soft skills are less tangible and harder to quantify, such as etiquette, getting along with others, listening and engaging in small talk. In business, hard skills most often refer to accounting and financial modeling.

Explaining ‘Hard Skills’

Hard and soft skill sets are highly valued in the workforce for performing at top levels.

Characteristics of Hard Skills

Hard skills are quantifiable, such as proficiency in a foreign language, earning a degree or certificate, operating a machine, or programming a computer. Hard skills are often listed on a job applicant’s cover letter and resume so employers know the applicant’s qualifications for an open position.

Characteristics of Soft Skills

Soft skills are more personality-oriented interpersonal skills, such as teamwork, flexibility, patience, persuasion and time management. Because employers have an easier time teaching new hires hard skills, employers often look for job applicants with specific soft skills instead.

Differences Between Hard and Soft Skills

Possessing strong hard skills typically requires the left brain, or logic center. In contrast, strong soft skills are typically formed in the right brain, or emotional center.

Hard Skills in Accounting

Hard skills in accounting include proficiency in the Microsoft Office suite, especially Excel, and familiarity with industry-specific software such as Great Plains, QuickBooks, Peachtree, SAP and tax preparation software. Accountants should know how to prepare and interpret financial statements and other accounting reports, develop efficient financial reporting mechanisms, and plan and implement accounting controls. Accountants need to collaborate with regulators and external auditors, stay updated with current issues and changes in industry regulations, and ensure strict adherence to regulations, procedures and practices.

Further Reading

  • Graduate employability,'soft skills' versus 'hard'business knowledge: A European study – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Planning for uncertainty: soft skills, hard skills and innovation – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Essential hospitality management competencies: The importance of soft skills – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Determinants of skills shortages and hard-to-fill vacancies in the hospitality sector – www.sciencedirect.com [PDF]
  • What employers look for: the skills debate and the fit with youth perceptions – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Economic transition and management skills: the case of China – books.google.com [PDF]
  • Soft skills and hard numbers: Gender discourse in human resources – journals.sagepub.com [PDF]
  • Impact of risk management on project performance: the importance of soft skills – www.tandfonline.com [PDF]
  • Soft Skill Competencies, Hard Skill Competencies, and Intention to Become Enterpreneur of Vocational Graduates – www.irjbs.com [PDF]