diverse group of workers

Technical Skills and Soft Skills

Everyone has natural abilities in certain areas. You develop your skills through training and experience that improve your ability to do tasks. Being able to identify and describe your skills allows you to answer key questions at job interviews such as:

  • What can you do for my organization?
  • What problems can you solve?

In the workplace, there are two kinds of skills:

  • Technical skills
  • Soft skills.

Both types of skills are essential for success. 

Technical skills

Your ability to do specific work well like cooking, computer programming or teaching, requires technical skills. They relate to a particular occupation. You may have learned technical skills from past work experience, school or training. You can improve your skills with practice, education and training. These skills are often included in job listings to describe the primary responsibilities of a position. Examples are:

  • Build a cabinet
  • Operate equipment
  • Write computer code
  • Investigate a scientific question
  • Sell products to customers
  • Write an article

Soft skills

Your ability to work well with others and help your organization be more productive requires soft skills. These skills are so valuable that soft skills are often the reason employers decide whether to hire or promote an employee. Some soft skills can be taught in school. But most soft skills you learn in everyday life and can improve at any time if you focus on them.

  • Participate as a team member
  • Motivate yourself to reach goals
  • Communicate well
  • Think critically
  • Learn quickly
  • Think positively
  • Be on time

Measuring Skills

It is often easier to determine a person’s level of achievement of technical skills than it is to determine a person’s mastery of soft skills. For example, it is easy to determine if a cabinet is square and level because that is objective information; but harder to know whether a person is truly a good communicator, because judging communication skills can be subjective.