These days I rarely spend time on Twitter. However, a long thread by one Bayo Adeyinka on the bird app caught my attention recently; it began with: “Your Career Is Not Just About Your Hard Skills…Soft Skills Do Matter. The higher you progress in your career, the more you understand that your career is not all about your hard or technical skills.”
There is a long-held debate over which is more important, soft or hard skills. Fortunately, the difference between both skills is pretty clear.
Understanding hard skills first: In a broad sense, hard skills refer to proficiency in complex tasks. They are learnt abilities acquired and enhanced through practice, repetition, and education. They are important because they increase employee productivity and efficiency, and subsequently, improve employee satisfaction.
For instance, if you’ve worked in food service or retail, you may know how to use a point-of-sale (POS) system. Or in tech, you may know how to code. Every job will require certain technical skills.
But things like how well you work in a team, how well you communicate, and how well you understand other people’s emotions are just as important; those are soft skills. They usually tend to be harder to quantify than hard skills like programming, writing, or accounting, and they’re also more difficult to learn formally.
A big part of the confusion: It appears that there is a reality the education system is yet to catch up with. We have a system of education that is modelled on the interest of industrialism which demands quantifiable, standardized skills. So it made sense back in the day to build an education system that trained people accordingly.
But we are no longer in the Industrial era. Ours is now a knowledge economy. Few of us work in factories where our jobs never vary and we never have to speak more than a few words.
Instead, the modern workplace is about dealing with other people; an environment of negotiating, compromising, and communicating. And with the advent of the knowledge economy, hard skills are constantly shifting. Although one still needs a certain basis of hard skills, soft skills are what matter for getting anything done.Advertisement
In the way that the Industrial Revolution made many manual labour tasks obsolete, the Knowledge Revolution is automating many technical tasks. Consequently, many of the hard skills you do learn in school quickly become irrelevant. The same can nearly be said of the workplace.
See the rest of Bayo’s thread.