Hard skills make it straight forward for a hiring manager to say No.
Candidate A speaks a foreign language and Candidate B doesn’t.
Sorry, you didn’t get the job, you don’t meet our minimum requirements.
It’s that simple. And because it’s simple, it’s easy to measure.
Hard skills like programming, digging, solving a math problem, these skills are easy to teach. You can write them down into a simple set of instruction and replicate the behavior quickly.
Let’s be clear, being competent at your job is no longer good enough. Competence is no longer scarce. The easier it is to write down what it is you do, the easier (and cheaper) it is to replace you.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are hard to teach. Soft skills like connecting, listening, empathizing, persuading, storytelling, are more valuable now than ever before.
If it’s hard to measure then it’s even harder to recreate.
You can always teach someone to type faster but you can’t teach someone to be more likable.
So let’s quit calling them soft skills and instead call them what they actually are–essential.