Gearing Up for Your Future: Technical vs Soft Skills

Stylized image of a figure standing with a piece of paper, surrounded by hypothetical bubbles of job searches and some magnifying glass icons

It might surprise you to know that75% of managers feel that their employees are under-skilled, and frankly, that's a huge gap!

The great news for job-seekers (and current job-havers!) is that each and every one of these skills gaps presents an opportunity.

Your first step is to look at what the gap entails exactly – what are the missing skills that we can bring to the table to gain an extra edge?

Technical vs Soft Skills

'Skill’ is a broad, overarching term for multiple things that you may need to do a job correctly. For example, if you were working as a sales manager, then ‘sales management’ is one of the skills you would need, but ‘people management’ may be another. Both of these skills are very different, and we typically break skills into two primary categories: technical skills and soft skills.

But before we get to the ultimate face-off (Technical vs. Soft Skills) we have to first understand both of these subtypes individually.

Technical skills

Technical skills are, in the simplest sense, the skills you need to do a particular job. This can be specific knowledge, experience, or tools for the job in question. By their nature, technical skills differ for each job. For instance, a writer’s technical skills will be the ability to research, write, edit, publish, and usually include familiarity with editing tools or publishing software. However, a web designer’s technical skills involve knowledge of HTML/CSS/Javascript, experience with UI/UX, web server management, and typography, to name a few.

Of course, a writer and a web designer have very different roles to play. But, even in jobs that sound similar and may have a lot of overlap, technical skills can be a differentiator.

Let’s look at how web developers and web designers work in tandem with each other. While a web developer handles the back-end (code and general development), the web designer spends all their time on the front-end (UI/UX design, content). While they work on the same project, and may even work within the same content management system (like Wordpress), they both have very different technical skills. You may sometimes also see these types of skills called ‘hard skills’, referring to their more set-in-stone and non-transferable nature.

Soft skills

Without sounding too reductive, ‘soft skills’ are the exact opposite of hard skills. They are transferable, meaning their utility isn’t restricted to a specific job, and they often serve multiple jobs. Examples of soft skills would include time management, empathy, communication skills, and work ethics, to name just a few!

These are skills that are important for every job, and definitely don’t mistake 'soft’ for ‘weak’ or less important. You could say your technical or hard skills are the brains behind the job, but your soft skills are the heart and soul.

What are the skills you need for your career goals?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t so simple! It’s not merely a question of technical vs. soft skills, but rather realizing that we need both — technical and soft skills, and that this is true for all jobs. Whether you are in an entry-level executive position or a manager ready to join the board, you will definitely need hard skills as well as the soft ones. In fact, the higher you rise on the corporate ladder, the stronger the expectation that you’ll need a healthy balance of both. Effective leadership is often highly skilled in soft skills as well as the technical skills they may have needed to climb the ranks.

In fact, 57%of employees are so dissatisfied with their bosses that they leave their jobs because of it, meaning there’s a concrete link between bad bosses leading to higher attrition. While the right technical skills may qualify someone to climb the corporate ladder and reach higher positions, a lack of soft skills will prevent them from becoming a great leader. Leadership, by the way, is a soft skill! Are you aspiring to become an inspirational leader? Make sure you’re not out-of-stock on these essential soft skills for managers.

How to identify, obtain, and use the right skills for the job

Building complimentary skills

Unsure of which skills to start learning or perfecting? Start by making a list of skills you already possess, then draw around them larger subsets and pick circles you can branch into. For instance, if you are already a photographer, then learning Photoshop or Canva may be a natural course for progression. You won’t be picking a skill from a different niche; you’ve picked one that complements your existing skills. These complimentary skills would help you upskill and upsell your services as a package.

Adding skills on LinkedIn and your resume

Skills become useless if they are not practiced, and presenting your skill sets in the right way is key to getting a great job. It’s important that you not only acquire these skills, but also present them where (and when!) it matters. You should be consistently updating your certifications, courses, and new skills on your resume as well as your online professional profiles, such on LinkedIn. The algorithms for such platforms pick up on your qualifications and highlighted skills to suggest new connections, prospects, and jobs, and any AI used in recruiting often keys off of these skills to identify you as an ideal candidate. While most people keep updating their work portfolio and technical skills, it’s equally important to plug your soft skills in there. Don’t be afraid to show the person behind the professional!

Taking courses with certifications

You are never too old to learn, and it’s never too late to start! There are infinite numbers of courses on the internet, and any skill you need to learn can be learned here; the only real catch is finding the right people to learn from. Courses with certifications often carry more weight, but make sure to check reviews!

Don’t know how to go about finding the right course?

Experienced and reputed experts offer their exclusive courses on PowerUp, a community dedicated to learning. Be it soft skills or hard skills, we want to leave no stone unturned. In order to provide you with maximum learning support, PowerToFly has recently acquired Skillcrush, the internet’s trusted online school for tech learning. Now you can get every skill you need right here!

Take tests, participate in competitions

No lesson is fully learned until it’s put to the test. Don’t shy away from participating in quizzes, assessments, and competitions. The only way to know if the newly acquired skills have been acquired is by putting them to the test. While you may also be able to do this in the workplace, getting diverse experiences across the internet can help no matter which career stage you’re currently at. Bonus, the more assessments and checkpoints you clear, the more confident you’ll be with the new skillset!


When you network among professionals with similar interests and backgrounds, you are exposed to new knowledge and thoughts, and knowledge is a skill all on its own, too. When you discuss your learnings among your peers, that may help you to see some of the gaps you need to work on. Sometimes, the best way to learn something is to teach it, so acting as a mentor in networking can also help with skill gaps.

Networking also gives you the exposure to showcase your new skill sets. That can open avenues for brighter opportunities, collaboration, and career progression. One stone, three birds!

Applying your new skills

A popular saying goes, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing that it was stupid.” In our hunt for careers, we might gravitate towards paths that have worked for others, but might not be the right path for us. Fortunately, the world is diverse and in-need of many different people with many different skill sets, and you may be able to take the time to focus your development on what works for you. When it comes to picking up the right skills for a job, the first step should be ascertaining whether the job is right for you. Does it align with your interests, talents, and goals?

At the intersection of these three distinct but important circles is the right job for you, and the skills you need to make it happen!
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