A skill set is a combination of abilities, qualities and experiences you can apply to perform tasks well. These can include soft skills such as communication, supervisory skills, as well as technical skills, such as web designing, coding, data analytics and more.
Spending time on improving your skill set can help achieve your personal career goals such as landing your dream job, earning a promotion, or switching your career. You can gain and improve your skill set with education and on-the-job experience.
Types of Skill Sets
There are two main types of skills that make up your skill set – soft skills and hard skills.
Soft skills generally pertain to interpersonal skills and other personality traits that allow you to communicate and work with others. Soft skills are also transferable, which means they are valuable for any job no matter the industry.
Examples of soft skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Foreign language fluency
- Stress management
- Conflict resolution
- Critical thinking
- Decision making
- Time management
Hard skills, also known as technical skills, are capabilities you use to perform a task related to a specific job. You can gain or improve these skills through training and practice.
Examples of hard skills
- Data management and analysis
- Project management
- Programming languages
- Graphic design
- Industry-specific software
- Digital marketing
One considerable difference between hard skills and soft skills during the hiring process is that you can list and verify hard skills, while soft skills are typically displayed during in-person interviews. If certain soft skills are relevant and required for a certain job, you might consider mentioning these on your CV alongside your technical skills.
Hard and soft skills can be further broken down into the following groups:
- Hybrid skills are a combination of hard and soft skills—many employers expect individuals to have both to succeed. A good example of a hybrid skill is customer service. While you need to have exceptional soft skills such as communication and conflict resolution, you might also be expected to be proficient with spreadsheets or a specific customer service management system.
- Transferable skills are skills that apply to any job, no matter the level or industry. Transferable skills are typically soft skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking, and sometimes hard skills, such as proficiency in Microsoft Office.
- Job-specific skills are the capabilities required for a certain position including both hard and soft skills. You usually gain these through education or on-the-job experience. Pay attention to the job description when searching for jobs to understand what job-specific skills the employer expects of their ideal candidate.
How To Determine Your Skills
When searching for a job, displaying your most advanced, relevant skills on your CV will help employers understand why you are a good fit for the job. If you are not sure what skills you have, consider spending time answering the following questions:
- What do you enjoy? The tasks that come easily to you or that you enjoy often translate into useful skills. For example, teaching people or helping those around you solve problems can translate to strong communication, active listening and problem-solving skills.
- Do you receive compliments on certain abilities? Consider the skills your managers or colleagues have noticed or complimented you on in the past. For example, you may have received praise for teamwork in a performance review. You should also take note of what people come to you for help on.
- What previous accomplishments do you have? Consider the times when you accomplished something at work, big or small. You might have won an award or simply completed a project that had better-than-expected results. What skills helped you to achieve those accomplishments?
How To Develop New Skills
If you want a job in an industry that requires different skills than those you currently have or if you need to develop your current skills for a promotion, there are many ways to expand your skill set.
Here are several ways you can increase your skills:
- Set goals for yourself. Setting specific goals to improve your career helps you stay on track with your development. Make sure your goals are measurable, achievable and relevant to your profession. Then, consider organizing a timeline to achieve your goal by setting a beginning and end date, and add smaller goals to achieve along the way.
- Find a mentor. A professional mentor is typically an experienced person you respect and trust. Once you find your mentor, you can reach out for informal meetings, which can then naturally develop into a professional relationship.
- Seek feedback about strengths and weaknesses. You can ask your managers, colleagues or even friends or family about your strengths and areas for improvement. It is important to seek feedback from people who will give you an honest review rather than always praise. Once you identify your areas for improvement, you can focus on developing those skills.
- Review job descriptions for the positions you want. These job descriptions will give you an idea of the transferable skills you have, as well as the job-specific skills you will need. Once you identify the skills you need, you can research training programs that can provide you with the necessary skill set to transition into that position successfully.
- Book a course at NADIA Training Institute. Employers often look positively at employees who further their education, and some employers go a step further and offer tuition support or have a reimbursement policy. If you are advancing your career with a professional development training course, for instance, the Professional Human Resource Management course, you will find yourself closer to achieving that promotion.
- Take continuing education courses in career-related fields. These courses are often taught by industry professionals who have mastered their field. For some professions, continuing education courses are required to stay current in the industry.
- Take advantage of company training. Many companies use independent training departments with experts in different fields that train on specialized skill sets. Check-in with your supervisor about what your company has to offer and which courses would benefit your career.
- Join a professional association in your field. In a group setting, you have the opportunity to converse with colleagues about your industry and to discover skills you may want to develop. These professional associations are usually available to join for free or for a nominal fee.
Which Skills To Include In Your CV
To determine which skills to list on your CV, carefully review the job description from the employer. This will include both the technical and soft skills the employer is looking for in their ideal candidate. It is important that you only include the technical skills the employer lists if they align with your own skill set. Technical skills show your potential employer that you have the necessary training or education for a particular role. Depending on the role, you might also list relevant soft skills on your CV.
You should also include any skills that you feel set you apart from other candidates. For example, you might include that you have strong relationship-building skills. While this skill might not necessarily be required for an IT job, for example, for a sales and marketing role having this skill is usually a must-have item for employers.
Your CV should only include the most relevant skill sets for the job role you seek. Remember to consider your skills in each of the following categories:
- Job posting skills: Skills, qualities and traits listed in the job description. Include accomplishments that verify these skills in your professional history section.
- Transferable skills: These are the key skills that can be used in multiple jobs, such as basic software programs or team building.
- Job-related skills: These are the skills that are required for you to perform a certain job, such as digital marketing or coding languages.
- Adaptive skills: These are the personal traits or skills you use in daily life, such as patience or confidence. Example of adaptive skills includes relationship building, the ability to learn quickly, flexibility, coachability, responsibility, and more.
- Skills from others in the industry: Find more skills by looking at examples of other professionals who are in the same field. This will give you an idea of what skills and abilities are valued by employers.
- Universal skills: These may include skills like critical thinking or punctuality. It is typically good to add a few of these, but do not oversell yourself. Only a few universal skills are needed. If you have more technical skills relevant to the position, mention those instead.
If you are missing a certain skill for the job you want, you can still apply, but do not list it on your CV if you do not have it. You also have the option to list a beginner proficiency level if you are still learning.
You also have the option to seek training during the hiring process or the employer might be willing to offer on-the-job training. This is especially true if you also demonstrate excitement about the position and an eagerness to learn, giving the employer confidence that you can develop the skills.