A potential employer is looking for employees who have the skills to perform in a certain position. It is therefore important that you, as an applicant, show that you have those skills. We can distinguish between the so-called 'hard skills' and 'soft skills'. In this article we will talk about the 'hard skills'.
What are hard skills?
'Hard skills' are skills that are easier to measure or define. They are focused on a specific task or processes, such as using a particular tool or software. You get them through years of experience or you have been trained in this skill because you have followed an education, course or training.
For example, a functional manager must be able to demonstrate that he can work according to BiSL and is aware of Prince II, among other things. A music teacher will have to demonstrate that he can play certain instruments, but also has skills in teaching methods.
As mentioned, there is a difference with 'soft skills'. These are skills that describe how you deal with yourself, others and situations. For example communication and leadership.
Where do you put hard skills on your resume?
Now that we know what 'hard skills' are and how to recognize them, we can look at their place on your CV. Where exactly do we put the 'hard skills'?
You will have to do research first. Take the vacancy text and read it carefully. Make a list of all the hard skills they require. What 'hard skills' do you have? Only mention the skills you have. Lying on your resume is never a good idea.
Now that you have a list of appropriate and relevant 'hard skills' (skills that the organization is looking for and that you have), review your own 'hard skills' to assess whether you have any more skills that could be relevant to the function. Are they there? Then put them on your list!
Now it's time to put your 'hard skills' on your resume. You're not going to have them come back in one section, but in three! It is not sufficient to only include hard skills in the skills section. In the other parts of your CV you will also have to provide evidence that you actually possess these skills.
You usually have a separate skills section on your resume. Here you can distinguish between your 'hard skills' and 'soft skills'. In this section you put the most relevant 'hard skills'. You also link it to a level, where 1 is the basic level and 5 is the expert level.
2. Work experience
In this section you will demonstrate some 'hard skills' by describing a situation.
Bioinformatician, [company name],
January 2019 – Present
Responsible for designing and maintaining SQL databases, which improved data retrieval speed by 40%.
Led a team of 5 developers in an Agile/Scrum environment, allowing us to consistently deliver projects within deadlines and budgets.
The first bullet point highlights the hard skill “Database Management”. In the subsequent bullet point we see “Project Management” which is here defined as a hard skill (technically it is a combination, but for the sake of argument it is listed here as a hard skill).
3. Personal profile
Finally, you can mention a number of (maximum three) 'hard skills' in your profile sketch. Especially when it comes to a position that requires many 'hard skills', such as an bioinformatician.
If you have certificates that support your 'hard skills', you should definitely mention these on your CV. This is best done in a separate 'certificates on your CV' section. Also include the year in which you obtained this.
Examples of good hard skills
It is of course impossible to put all 'hard skills' on paper, but it is possible to distinguish between the different 'hard skills'.
1. Computer skills
Computer skills mean that you can handle hardware and software. A distinction can also be made between basic level (you can switch the computer on and off, print, send an email and look up something on the internet) up to and including a specialized level.
In principle, you do not put basic computer skills on your CV, because an employer can assume that you have mastered these skills. Unless they specifically ask for it in the vacancy text, then it is of course wise to mention them. You should definitely include specific computer skills that can help you get a job interview on your resume.
Examples of computer skills are: Java, Python, MS Office, SQL.
2. Technical skills
Technical skills involve specific knowledge in a particular area. These are skills for working with specialized software and machines.
This includes lab machines, data collection programmes, payment programs, customer relationship management software etc.
3. Design skills
If you are a graphic designer or web designer you will certainly have skills in this area. But these skills are not only useful in these positions. For some employers it is very attractive if other employees also have these skills. For example as a researcher to present your data in a clear and convincing way. Or consider a small organization where there is no room for a graphic designer, but it is useful if one of the employees has these 'hard skills' and can use them for the organization.
Examples of 'hard skills' are: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Canva etc.
4. Analytical skills
With these skills you are good at collecting data, analyzing it and presenting it in a good way. Further conclusions can then be drawn from the research and plans can be made to work on this.
You can think of SPSS, Qualtrics, R Studio etc.
5. Language skills
Mastering a foreign language is a 'hard skill'. If you are applying to an international organization or if it is specifically requested in the vacancy text, you will certainly have to mention this on your CV. For example when working for EU organisations such as the European Medicine Agency in Amsterdam or the European Patent Office in the Hague this is a must.
By the way, it is a bit of an odd one out. While the other 'hard skills' can be mentioned in one section, language skills get their own section on your CV. This way they are clearly arranged together.
6. Project management skills
Having project management skills shows that you will actually complete things within a certain timeframe and budget. You know how to divide large projects into sub-projects and how to work with deadlines. For this you need a number of 'hard skills', such as strategic planning, SCRUM or Agile workflow, financial planning and working with software such as Monday or Microsoft Planner.
7. Writing skills
Writing skills are skills that are often forgotten on a resume. After all, we all assume that if you apply for a certain position, you will also be able to write thorough documents. However, this is not always the case. Some people are really naturals with computers, but find it difficult to write a piece in a good and correct way.
If the position requires a certain degree of writing skills (writing policy documents, reports, advice, research papers etc.), it is good to mention your writing skills on your CV.
Article written by Reinier van der Galiën