Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills; What’s More Transferable?


There’s a constant battle between soft skills vs. hard skills and what is most transferable to a professional career. The modern workplace is constantly being reshaped by the advancement in technology and economic forces, but are we as employers forecasting for this in our hiring?

Soft skills are defined as attributes and personality traits that encompass emotional intelligence and behaviors such as communication and problem solving skills. Hard skills, on the other hand, focus on specific knowledge areas and abilities such as technical proficiencies, calculations, and data analysis. Increased technology and computer-generated work have contributed to this increase in demand for candidates with strong interpersonal skills. It’s not enough to be strong on paper or behind a computer screen; candidates need to be expert communicators, have strong leadership potential, and be a team player. These are skills taught through experience and relationship building. Recent academic trends show more project-based learning, which is designed to bring students out of structured learning and providing them exposure and experience in developing these in-demand skills such as critical thinking and teamwork, both of which are very transferable to a professional career.

According to a survey of top US executives by Adecco Staffing, 44% or respondents listed the lack of soft skills among applicants as their top concern. Both a candidate’s soft skills and hard skills hold a true value in accessing one’s fit for a role, but which better predicts success and career longevity? Another survey found that 78% of leaders said personality sets great employees apart, more than cultural fit (53%) and even an employee’s skills (39%). While hard skills might get you in the door for an interview, were seeing a shift in soft skills landing candidates the jobs.

Top 7 Soft Skills Employers Seek

  1. Team Player – Displaying strong leadership skills while also being cooperative in a group setting
  2. Flexibility – Ability to adapt to any situation on a personal and professional level
  3. Communication – Articulating oneself clearly in addition to listening and using appropriate body language in conversations
  4. Problem Solving – Being resourceful when unexpected issues inevitably arise
  5. Accepting Feedback – Ability to accept and apply feedback to foster professional growth
  6. Confidence –  Exhibiting self-assurance and being able to back that up with the necessary knowledge and skills builds trust among employees and clients
  7. Creativity – Offering unique solutions drives innovation and increases efficiency


Additional Resources:

What Sets an Exceptional Employee Apart?

10 Ways to Improve Your People Skills:

The Weight of Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: