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Hard skills versus Soft skills (Information Technology industry perspective)


Hard skills

According to Investopedia.com, hard skills are learned abilities acquired and enhanced through practice, repetition and education.


In my own words, any task that you perform requires you to have some skills like coding if you are a developer, documenting the bugs if you are a tester, collecting requirements from clients if you are a business analyst and so on, these skills are nothing but hard skills. Without the hard skills you won’t be able to perform any task because every task requires you to have a skill. Even Black collar workers like Plumbers, Carpenters etc. also need hard skills to perform their work.


When you start applying for software tester jobs, you will go through many job descriptions posted on job portals like Monster.com etc. and 99% of the content in any job description consists of hard skills, even your Resume consists of mostly hard skills and the interviewer selects you for an interview and ultimately for the job solely on the basis of your hard skills and it is because the Interviewer can’t test your soft skills in a short span of time while interviewing you, it is when you start working then your soft skills comes into the picture.


Soft skills

As per Investopedia.com, soft skills are character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize the person’s relationships with other people.


In my own words, wherever you work in Information Technology (IT) industry you will need to work in a team because no software could be developed by an individual person. You will need to interact with people from many departments such as developers, designers, marketing team, HR team, customers etc. hence it is the team effort that turns into a successful product or service. And to work in a team you need to have good soft skills. So even if you get selected for a job based on your excellent hard skills but if your soft skills are poor then you won’t be able to stay long in that job. Some important soft skills you need to have are as follows:


1. Communication skills: How effectively you could communicate your message with other team members?

2. Listening skills: How well you could listen and understand the message conveyed to you by the other person?

3. Questioning skills: This skills I very important if you are working in a team. You need to ask questions to understand the subject under discussion especially in team meetings.

4. Time management: How well you could manage your time? Deadlines in any project in IT industry are usually very tight and you need to have good time management skills especially during the time of project releases.

5. Business Etiquettes: You need to have good manners, proper hygiene like clean and ironed clothes, punctuality, integrity etc.

6. Team work: You need to put the interests of team over your own personal interests.

7. Adaptability: You need to be flexible like if suddenly your role is changed from manual tester to an automation tester then you need to adapt quickly.


All the above mentioned soft skills and many more that are not mentioned here are necessary no matter you work in a small company or a big company but as per my experience, small companies put greater emphasis on communication skills as compared to big companies and it is because small companies do not maintain proper documentation as compared to big companies hence they require the team members to communicate more and more among each other. Big companies do not put that much emphasis on communication ability of an employee because you could go through the documents and understand the subject but in small companies the only way to understand the subject is by communicating with other team members as there are no documents or very few documents that you could go through for understanding the subject.


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