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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What are hard skills?

Hard skills refer to job-specific qualifications or skills that definitively enable applicants to perform a specific function from a technical perspective. These skills are usually gained through relevant education, training and or a degree, they can usually be demonstrated by relevant certificates, testing and credentials. Practical experience and specialist knowledge acquired as a result also fall into the hard skills category.

Hard Skills Definition

Hard skills make up part of an individual’s skill set, which contains their entire scope of abilities and skills.

This includes their basic competencies, for example, reading, writing and mathematical ability, as well as core competencies specific to training. This could include anything from coding training to culinary training, alongside skills earned in an apprenticeship or work experience training. They are regarded as tangible and measurable by performance records or specific testing and are therefore referred to as "hard".

In combination with an individual’s soft skills and communication skills, these hard skills help to build up an applicant profile. This profile then determines whether an applicant is classified as suitable for a role or not.

What is the significance of hard skills in recruiting? 

Hard skills usually make up a section of a candidate’s CV and give recruiters an initial overview of how relevant an applicant's professional qualifications and work experience is for the role.

They also give an insight into an applicant's overall experience and reveal any professional specializations, gained skills or special talents that would aid them in the position. For example, if a candidate speaks several foreign languages, then this suggests not only a skill in foreign languages but also strong communication skills and international work background.

In the past, hard skills were often used as the most important qualifier when shortlisting candidates in a recruitment process. However, in recent years the focus has shifted to place more weight on a candidate’s personality, learning ability and social skills.

Hard skills examples

As hard skills span the full breadth of many specific job roles, career paths and educational courses, this is a brief overview of the types of hard skills that can be found on a CV.

  • Language skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Social media skills
  • Software skills (from office applications to analytics tools)
  • SEO or marketing skills
  • Project management skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Bookkeeping
  • People management skills
  • Proofreading skills
  • Graphic/visual design skills

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