/ Career Advice

What Are Hard Skills?

what are hard skills?

The tech industry in the U.S. is expected to grow by 11% each year between now and 2029. To enter this booming job market, you'll need to have the right hard skills. Equally as important, you'll have to know how to make them stand out on your resume and while interviewing.

Hard skills include proficiency with the technical tools required to accomplish tasks like programming, designing software solutions, or using technologies like cybersecurity devices and database management tools.

Take a mechanic as an example. An all-around mechanic may fix brakes, adjust suspension, do oil changes, change tires, and troubleshoot a problematic O2 sensor.

These all require hard skills. Along with the tasks listed above, a mechanic may also have to talk to customers, explain why and how things need to be fixed, and listen as they describe issues. These tasks involve soft skills.

It's the same with those who work in tech. Doing the basic elements of your job requires both hard and soft skills, but hard skills are used to perform the more technical aspects.

How to showcase hard skills on your resume

Showcasing your hard skills on your resume has to be done with care. You don't want to simply list what you can do because that can undercut the value of your skills. It's best to weave your hard skills into short statements or phrases that typically start with verbs.

For example, you wouldn't want to say "Skilled in C++." It would be better to word it like this:

"Programmed revenue-generating system tools using C++."

This way, you indicate your skill with C++ and ability to use it to benefit an organization.

In many cases, it may be best to highlight your hard skills more than once in your resume. You can accomplish this in two ways:

  • You can mention key hard skills multiple times by weaving them into descriptions of things you've done at other jobs or while working on projects in your portfolio.
  • You may choose to list them within a "Skills" section elsewhere in your resume, which may be helpful if an employer is quickly scanning through it.

Keep in mind that you're better off using both of these techniques instead of just the "Skills" section. Doing so makes it easier for an employer to see what you bring to the table.

How to showcase your hard skills during an interview

During the interview process, you want to avoid sounding like you're reading directly from your resume — so when you discuss your hard skills, bring them up naturally. The best way to do this is by using examples that illustrate how you've used them to solve key problems.

For example, if your interviewer asks you about a business problem you've solved, you wouldn't want to simply state, "I worked on a mobile app that helped a company increase engagement with customers." It would be better to say:

"I used JavaScript to design a customer interface that made it easier for the company to collect and process customer feedback."

In this way, you showcase the hard skill within the context of how it benefited an organization.

But you don't want to stop there. Keep talking about how you used your hard skill, mentioning specific elements of your solution. For instance, for JavaScript, you can say something along the lines of:

"The company's website was visually appealing but static and one-dimensional. Using JavaScript, I introduced an image carousel that changed in response to the visitor's cursor position. To encourage them to leave their input, I also used JavaScript to code animations that appeared after they filled out feedback fields. The percentage of customers who left feedback increased by 38% year-over-year."

With this kind of answer, you show:

  • The hard skill you have
  • How it contributes to high-level organizational goals
  • Its associated metrics (like customer feedback rates).

How to showcase your hard skills during a technical interview

A technical interview is a golden opportunity to flex your hard skills as you'll be tasked with solving some kind of problem using technology.

What are technical interviews?

Technical interviews typically happen after the initial interview, and it's a chance for your prospective employer to see you in action — both as you solve a technical problem and communicate your solution to those in attendance.

The prompt may involve a general challenge that you can solve using a selection of tools, or it could be something specific such as how to solve a problem within a database using SQL.

How to show your hard skills in a technical interview

The time to show your hard skills is immediately after the prompt or question is posed. You can write down the skill you're using on a whiteboard or begin by stating out loud which tools you would use.

For example, let's say you were asked to make sure that the values presented within a column are all different from each other. You could begin by saying:

"To begin, I'd use the Unique constraint within SQL instead of Primary Key because you can use Unique to define more than one constraint within the same table. Primary Key may work as well, but it might take longer."

While, based on the context of the problem, it may already be obvious they expect you to use SQL, announcing it at the start of your answer makes it crystal clear that it's within your skill set.

With our platform, you can gain the hard skills you need to excel in any tech interview. You can also take advantage of interview preparation resources, such as our Pass the Technical Interview with JavaScript, Pass the Technical Interview with Java, Data Analyst Interview Preparation, and Pass the Technical Interview with Python Skill Paths.

Get more practice, more projects, and more guidance.

Adam Carpenter

Adam Carpenter

Adam Carpenter is a tech, fintech, and business innovations writer. Passionate about user safety, Adam writes about cybersecurity solutions, software, and innovations.

Read More
What Are Hard Skills?
Share this