Hard vs. Soft Skills – Which is Most Important to Employers?

by Patricia O. Urquiaga | May 28, 2019 | emotionalintelligence, employers, EQ, hardskills, predictorsofsuccess, softskills
Hard vs. Soft Skills – Which is Most Important to Employers?

There has always been a battle as to which skill is most important – hard vs. soft skills. Before addressing that question, let’s understand the difference between these two skills.

Hard vs. Soft Skills – What is the Difference?

Hard skills are skill sets that you can quantify. For example, knowing a second language, a specific computer program, or obtaining a marketing degree. On the other hand, soft skills are harder to quantify, and include your “people and interpersonal” skills. Some examples include your leadership, communication, and listening abilities.

Overall, it’s been known that employers’ value and prioritize hard skills when recruiting. However, soft skills are now in-demand by employers across various industries. In fact, studies conducted by iCIMS, The Wall Street Journal, and LinkedIn state that:

  • Employers are placing a higher value on soft skills because hard skills can be taught
  • 92% of executives believe soft skills are equally or more important than hard skills
  • The four most in-demand soft skills are leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management

Soft Skill & Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Let’s take a deeper look into soft skills and how emotional intelligence (EQ) plays a role. EQ consists of four core skills which help build the foundation for “soft skills”. These four skills consist of motivation, self-awareness, empathy and social skills, all which fall under either personal or social competency. Personal competency is being conscious of your emotions while managing behavior and tendencies. While social competency deals with social awareness and relationship management. According to a study across 500 executives, Daniel Goleman found that EQ/soft skills were a better predictor of top performance than previous experience or IQ. Well-known economist Tyler Cowen and Ezekiel Emanuel also agree and discuss the importance of IQ versus EQ in the practice of medicine in his podcast titled “Ezekiel Emanuel on the Practice of Medicine, Policy, and Life (Ep. 67)”. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that CEOs at top companies like Amazon, Xerox, and Tesla lead with EQ and have designed their entire corporate structure around soft skills.

Which Skill Is Most Important?

According to studies, soft skills/EQ tend to be more important to employers. However, as an employer we must not disregard hard skills. Employers will still benefit from candidates that attain both hard and soft skills. We must also remember that both skills are necessary for a candidate to be successful, and that these skills complement each other. Therefore, gaining knowledge and mastering a skill is still something employers’ value and is what helps you develop a successful career. While EQ skills form the base on which soft skills are built upon so they must be learned. Download our [INFOGRAPHIC] to learn more about hard vs. soft skills.

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