English For IT
Published in

English For IT

Soft skills vs Hard skills

A Harvard study once discovered that 85% of your job success comes from well-developed soft skills and only 15% is attributed to hard skills.

Let’s pause for a second and let that sink in. We spend 10 years in school, and over 4 years in college to develop marketable skills. And all this time we’re only developing our hard skills that account for no more than 15% of our future success!

You see, whether you’re studying in college, going through a bootcamp program, or taking an online course — you will be taught and graded on your hard skills. If you ace all your exams and get good grades on all your projects, you might feel like a top-notch professional ready to get the most amazing job in the field and work your way up to the top. That’s until you realize that “it just doesn’t work like that” in the real world. All the knowledge and tools you learned in school don’t automatically translate into career success. You feel like you’re missing something. And you begin to wonder what it is.

The answer is: soft skills.

For some people, the realization never hits. They keep grinding away at their job, getting bitter that other people are promoted ahead of them, and feeling their career stagnating even though they “know the right answer” and “are clearly great at what they do”.

To understand why you need soft skills, you first need to understand what they are and what the difference between soft and hard skills is.

Hard skills are your technical abilities pertaining to a specific job. This is what you go to school for.

Soft skills are behaviors and competencies that can be used in any career for any job. They are more difficult to teach because they require a lot of practice and observation.

Think of it this way. Hard skills are to soft skills what coding is to problem-solving. An online course can teach you the syntax of a programming language. However, top-level developers hardly even write code or think about syntax. They are focused on designing software solutions that solve real-world problems. If a world-class developer decided to switch careers and become a furniture manufacturer, they could use their superb problem-solving skills to figure out how to set up business processes and become profitable.

Let’s compare:

At this point, you might be wondering: what are the most in-demand soft skills?

Here are the top 10 of them.

Top 10 Soft Skills:

1.Communication (ability to express your ideas in a clear and confident way)

2.Teamwork (ability to work well as part of a team)

3.Leadership (ability to think strategically and critically, inspire others, and manage teams)

4.Flexibility (ability to make decisions in a fast-paced and changeable environment)

5.Empathy (ability to resonate with the feelings of others)

6.Self-discipline (ability to set and accomplish goals)

7.Negotiation (ability to provide logical reasoning and be assertive or accommodating when necessary)

8.Problem solving (ability to find working solutions and design systems and processes)

9.Creativity (ability to design unique and interesting solutions)

10. Mindfulness (being aware of your mental state and knowing what you need to stay balanced)

Having these soft skills in addition to your core hard skills will allow you to become a successful well-rounded professional.

This all sounds wonderful, you might be saying to yourself. But how do I actually develop those soft skills? What do I do?

This is what we’re here to do. The ultimate mission of English For IT is to help you build a stellar career by improving your soft skills one step at a time. Building your soft skills takes time. It takes trying and failing. You won’t feel comfortable and that’s okay. Getting uncomfortable is the first step toward progress.

Improving your soft skills generally depends on three major factors:

#1. Reading & Listening.

Curiosity is a big driver of change. You have to develop the mindset of a student always looking to learn something new.

Tip: Try to come up with a list of 5 topics that interest you most. Then, choose one and research it for 1–2 months. Read books, listen to podcasts, take courses, etc. Document your progress and share your impressions with others. If you try that, we guarantee that you will improve your communication, mindfulness, and self-discipline skills in a matter of several months!

We recommend starting with the book “Atomic Habits”. It will give you a really good foundation on how to be productive, and achieve your goals.

#2. Observation

Notice what other people do and say. It can be as simple as observing your team leader run a meeting. What phrases do they use? How do they make sure the meeting stays on track? How do they handle unexpected issues? Observe and analyze people’s behavior — this should become your second nature.

#3. Practice

The hardest part. This is what causes a lot of discomfort for many people. Practice means trying something new in front of other people, getting feedback on it, processing the feedback, and trying again.

Ok, let’s put everything we just established in a real-life situation.

Meet our friend Sam. Sam went to a bootcamp to learn software development. Sam’s hard skills include knowledge of core web technologies and coding in JavaScript. But how can Sam develop problem-solving and communication skills to become a well-rounded professional?

Sam is going to try the following:

1.Attend at least 1 meetup every month to network and meet like-minded people.

2.Take part in volunteer projects and/or hackathons

3.Be active on social media (tweet, and post on LinkedIn at least once a week)

4.Join a developer community to ask and answer questions from peers

5.Read at least 1 book every 2 months and put the advice from the book into practice

We will be sharing more tips, ideas, and strategies on how to develop your soft skills.

For now, you can take your first step toward becoming a better professional by joining our free IT English Challenge which we designed to help tech professionals boost their communication and English skills.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store