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.

BREAKING DOWN '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 involve rules remaining the same regardless of what business or circumstances a person is in at any given time. Conversely, soft skills involve rules that change, depending on company culture and colleagues' expectations. For example, the rules for how a programmer can create the best code are the same regardless of where the programmer works. However, a programmer may communicate effectively to other programmers about technical details but struggle when communicating with senior managers about a project's success and necessary support.

Hard skills may be learned in school and from books. There are typically designated levels of competency and a direct path for excelling. For example, a person may take basic and advanced accounting courses, gain work experience and study for and take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. In contrast, learning most soft skills is not taught well in schools and does not have a set path, and soft skill are learned by trial and error. For example, a person learns patience by effectively communicating with others and quietly waiting his turn for an activity.

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.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Technical Job Skills

    Technical job skills refer to the talent and expertise a person ...
  2. Soft Skills

    Soft skills are the character traits and interpersonal skills ...
  3. Skilled Labor

    Skilled labor is a segment of the workforce with specialized ...
  4. Soft Market

    A soft market is a phase in the economic cycle wherein there ...
  5. Soft Sell

    Soft sell refers to an advertising and sales approach that features ...
  6. Soft Metrics

    The intangible elements that define the presence of a company ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Most Valuable Career Skills of 2018

    Having the right career skills can make you more competitive and successful, whatever your job or field. Here are those most prized by employers in 2018.
  2. Personal Finance

    MBA Skills: What Employers Are Really Looking For

    To make sure that you have what recruiters want, take a look at Bloomberg's annual job skills survey.
  3. Personal Finance

    6 Tips For A No-Experience Resume

    Lacking experience doesn’t have to kill your chances when applying for jobs.
  4. Personal Finance

    Common Interview Questions for Controllers

    Learn more about the job description of a financial controller and questions that may be asked of applicants applying for this position.
  5. Personal Finance

    How to improve your leadership skills

    Being a leader can help you in your career. Here are some tips for improving your leadership skills.
  6. Insights

    What is jobless growth?

    What are the effects that a jobless growth economy has on workers and investors alike. Learn about these effects here.
  7. Small Business

    How Small Businesses Can Hire & Keep Top Employees

    Here is how small business owners can find the right employees, help them succeed and stay engaged at the company.
  8. Personal Finance

    6 Free Ways To Learn New Job Skills

    If you're not ready to make a big investment in your education, there are baby steps you can take to boost your marketable skills.
  9. Personal Finance

    Career advice: Investment banking or asset management?

    See how investment banking and asset management compare as career opportunities to understand which is a better fit based on your skill set and goals.
  10. Financial Advisor

    How to Perfect Your Financial Advisory Practice

    Top tips for being a better advisor to your clients, as well as your own colleagues.
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do interpersonal skills influence a business culture?

    Interpersonal skills are vital to business culture because they determine not only how a person interacts with others, but ... Read Answer >>
  2. Hard and soft goods in the retail sector

    Understand the difference between hardlines and softlines offered by various retailers. Find out about the characteristics ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center