Most Important Hard Skills (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Sep. 25, 2020
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Are you wondering what the most important hard skills for 2020 are? Or maybe you’re wondering what in the world hard skills are? You’re not alone, no matter which of these boats you sit in.

Jobs are hard to come by in 2020, there have been layoffs, firings, downsizing, furloughs — no matter what you call it, there are a lot of people out of work and looking to find a new job. Then, there are all the graduates that came out of high school, college, tech programs, master’s classes, and more, and they want jobs, too.

With such an influx of people into the job market and so few jobs, it’s a horrible situation for many. This is why you need to find your edge — your special qualifications or competencies that will put you on top of the pile of applicants and make you incredibly desirable. This is where some hard skills come into play.

What Are Hard Skills

Hard skills are basically those skills you learned in the classroom or some sort of training. It can also mean on-the-job training, so there’s no need to worry that you don’t have hard skills if you don’t have a college degree.

On the other hand, soft skills are more like personality traits or things you’ve learned how to do but it’s nothing that can be quantified. It’s also more fluid and can be changed over time or seen differently by different people.

Comparing the two, your hard skills are typically listed on your resume and include things like language skills, computer programs you know, specific skills you have to do a job, and things like that.

Soft skills can appear on a resume, but they’re more apt to show up on your cover letter. They include things like your ability to work in a team, your leadership skills, your creativity, or willingness to learn.

Types of Hard Skills

Now that you understand the difference between hard skills and soft skills and you know what they are, you can probably see why having more hard skills can give you a competitive edge when it comes to landing your next job.

Here’s the interesting thing — many people have hard skills, but they don’t highlight them. Think about your resume. Does it simply list where you worked and the dates you were there, maybe there’s a brief explanation of your job duties. Or do you list your academic career by simply stating what degree you have? This is where you can revamp your resume and come out looking like a super star. Don’t give mundane job duty descriptions, go out of your way to explain all of the hard skills you learned on the job or how the ones you used in college were instrumental to you doing your job right.

To be successful at listing your hard skills, it helps to know what types of hard skills there are and to have a list of examples.

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  1. Computer Skills. Knowing how to work a computer is obviously a must, but how much do you know. Can you program a computer, do back end technical work, or are you certified in some different types of programs that businesses want and need their employees to understand because they’re not going to waste their time training you. These computer skills can include:

    • Word Processing

    • Microsoft Office

    • Spreadsheets

    • Bookkeeping

    • Banking

    • Automated billing systems

    • Excel

    • Powerpoint

    • Database management

    • Graphics

    • Social Media

  2. Technical Skills. Technical skills can take your computer knowledge a step further and put you out there as an expert in information technology. Technical hard skills also relate to engineering and the sciences. These jobs typically have very specialized knowledge bases and employees will need to have training in some of these areas:

    • Blockchain

    • Cloud Computing

    • HTML, CSS, Javascript, and other Coding Languages

    • Artificial Intelligence

    • Python Programming

    • CAD

    • Prototyping

    • STEM skills

    • CRM Platforms

  3. Management Skills. You love being in charge and you’re darn good at it. The problem is, you’re not the only one. While people skills are an essential part of being a good manager, having the following hard skills will make you more employable:

    • Project Management

    • Business Analysis

    • Sales

    • Human Resources

    • Finance

    • Office Management

    • Planning

    • Logistics

    • Payroll programs

    • Agile software

    • Scrum management

  4. Marketing Skills. Marketing has been a booming business for a long time now and the internet has virtually turned the entire industry upside down and then filled it with a vast amount of marketing jobs, and they all seem to need different skill sets from their employees. It’s crucial to match your skills with the position, which is why you need to turn the spotlight on the following skills, if you have them:

    • Affiliate Marketing

    • Search Engine Optimization

    • Search Engine Marketing

    • Google Analytics

    • AdWords, Facebook paid ads

    • Content Management Systems

    • Social Media Marketing

    • Marketing Research

    • Email and Marketing Automation

    • PPC

  5. Analytical Skills. Are you looking for a job where you need stellar analytical skills? Maybe you’ve spent your education or your career gathering data, analyzing it, and coming up with results or a hypothesis. Today, knowing how to accurately and appropriately analyze data is more important than ever before and there are a lot of jobs that need people with these skills. Make sure to highlight your talents if you have the following hard skills:

    • Analytics

    • Data mining

    • Data engineering

    • Database management

    • Data presentation

    • Analytical Reasoning

    • Research

    • Diagnostics

  6. Writing Skills. Hey, guess what — you don’t have to be a writer, or want to be one, to need stand-out grammar and writing skills. Writing is necessary in so many different areas of business that, if you’re good at it, you need to brag a bit.

    Even in the most technical and scientific job, you still need to know how to write an email, present an intelligent proposal, you’ll probably be writing up your results — you’ll find writing comes into play all the time and your boss is going to want to hire someone they can rely on to put together cohesive thoughts without grammatical errors. Let them know that you’re that someone if you have these skills:

    • Translation

    • Transcription

    • Technical Writing

    • Proposal Writing

    • Reporting

    • Other languages

    • Press releases

    • Content management systems

    • Academic writing

    • SEO

    • Editing

    • Copywriting

    • Journalism

    • Social media

    • Scripting

  7. Design Skills. Having some basic design skills can make you more appealing for just about any job. That is unless you want a job doing design — if that’s your career path, then you better be able to fill your resume lots of design skills and be able to demonstrate proficiency or even mastery of them.

    • Photoshop

    • Illustrator

    • InDesign

    • User Experience Design

    • User Interface Design

    • Adobe Creative Suite

    • Digital Product Design Software

    • Video Production

    • Acrobat

    • Corel Draw

    • Typography

    • Print design

    • Sketching

  8. Accounting Skills. So many different professions require some degree of accounting or math-related skills. Whether you’re in an office and adding up payroll or you’re out on the road, making sales and offering discounts — you’re going to need to know some math and have some accounting hard skills on your resume.

    • Accounting

    • Administrative

    • Auditing

    • Banking Operations

    • Financial Statement Preparation

    • Excel (Advanced) ability

    • Data analysis and modeling

    • Microsoft Visual Basic

    • Quickbooks

    • Hyperion

  9. Career Specific Skills. Not all careers fit into the examples above and some have very different skills. If you’re an electrician, for example, you have different certifications you need and those may vary by state. And that’s just one possible career path. The following jobs are just some that have their very own set of hard skills which don’t fit into the types listed above:

    • Electrician

    • Radiologic Technician

    • Plumber

    • Carpenter

    • Tool-and-Die Maker

    • Hair Stylist

    • Pharmacy Technicians

    • Physical Therapy Aide

    • Automotive Technology

    • Nursing

This is just a very small list of careers that require some sort of certification or education, meaning hard skills, but the skills are job specific. If you are in one of these fields or looking to break into one, you probably already know what employers need and want to see, so make sure you’re emphasizing your abilities. But, to further bolster your resume, point out the other types of hard skills you may have acquired along the way during your education or work training.

How to Include Hard Skills in Your Resume

Seriously, that list doesn’t even begin to cover the very tip of the iceberg, there are that many hard skills out there. The good news is, if that list got you thinking of your own skills, then you’re headed down the right path. Hopefully, you’ve started making a list of hard skills to include on your resume — but wait, – how do you do that?

Well, it’s actually not that hard to revamp your resume, but you have to think of it a little differently. Rather than just a list of where and when you worked, you’re going to really make each job sound like a key step in getting to the new job you want. Do this by following these tips:

  • Pay attention to the job description. Really look at what hard skills they’re directly asking for and then try to determine which ones they’re also indirectly looking for.

  • List of skills. Create your list of matching skills and begin pegging them into the right jobs.

  • Certifications. Gather any certifications you have and make digital copies that you can attach to a resume or application.

  • Flesh out your list of skills with solid examples. I.e. Used Excel to create an accounts receivable spreadsheet to track invoices sent to customers and dates paid.

  • Understand keywords. Sure, this sounds a little off track for some job applicants, but here’s the deal — most companies now use applicant tracking software that reviews your resume before a human ever does. This means if you’re applying for the job ofSocial Media Manager, but you never list Social Media Manager in your resume, your resume might never make it to a human. Likewise, you know that a Social Media Manager job probably is closely affiliated with keywords like, Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics, YouTube, etc.

These might be some of your hard skills, which is great because you can mention them, and then mention them again so that computer really puts you in the category of “Possible Candidate” and you make it to the next round of the application process.

One thing to remember as you’re writing your resume, this is not the time to be shy or modest but it’s also not the time to lie. Be honest about your skills but brag your pants off, it’s the best way to get noticed for what you’re good at.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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