Hard and Soft Job Skills: What Your College Student Needs to Have When They Graduate

Hard job skills

Hard and Soft Job Skills: What Your College Student Needs to Have When They Graduate

Published June 17, 2021 | Last Updated June 1st, 2024 at 05:40 pm

Hard job skills

As your child nears the end of their college experience, they will have gained knowledge and understanding in their field of study. In order to be job-ready, there are specific hard job skills and soft skills every college student needs to develop by the time they graduate.

The years your child spends in college are ideal for networking, which expands their opportunities for landing jobs and other hands-on work experience. Internships and part-time work will help your grad develop and refine both the hard skills and soft skills needed for long-term future employment.

What Are Soft and Hard Job Skills? 

Skills are typically identified as either hard skills or soft skills. Hard skills are the tasks and measurable abilities a college graduate can do. For example, knowing how to write computer code or how to use designing or drafting software. Hard skills are behaviors that a college student learns how to do. They are often specific to the student’s major such as making a marketing presentation or properly cleaning and storing lab equipment.

Soft skills, on the other hand, include the ways a person does things that makes them a good colleague. They are more dispositional in nature and are related to a person’s individual personality. Soft skills are interpersonal and directly relate to how well you can work with and interact with others. They can include traits like problem-solving, taking initiative, creativity, and dependability. Both skill sets are important; soft skills and hard skills are interconnected. A college student may be a very talented computer programmer, they also need keen communication skills to collaborate, and work as an effective team member. It’s necessary for your college grad to effectively highlight both hard and soft skills when looking for a job. 

What Are the Best Soft and Hard Skills to Put on a Resume?

When it comes to resume development, on-campus career services offer a variety of resources for your grad. College students can get help from advisors in resume development, with a specific focus on how best to highlight both content-specific hard skills and soft skills that show their work ethic.

 A well-written resume can make all the difference for getting noticed by potential employers. The resume acts as a snapshot of everything your grad has to offer. A strong resume can highlight strengths and tell a compelling story, even if your grad does not have perfect grades.

 Your child should include all of the content-specific hard skills that they’ve learned throughout their education on a resume. For example, technical design or drafting, coding, writing, or accounting should be prominently listed on the resume. They can list the courses in which these skills were learned as well as hands-on experience in which these skills were applied. This might include internships or on-campus jobs.

 Including soft skills on a resume illustrates the way in which your child is able to execute their hard skills. Soft skills indicate to potential employers how your grad may or may not fit into the company as a whole. The World Economic Forum identified several critical soft skills every college grad should develop by the end of school. If your child is looking to work with a large company, it’s a good idea to highlight soft skills that include teamwork and collaboration.

What Soft Skills Should Your Student Develop in College?

No matter what discipline your child of studies, there are several soft skills that will benefit them when it comes to landing a job. Everyone has their own unique personality. While it is important for graduates to have a general understanding and develop these skills, of which there are a wide variety, while in college, they may not come easily to ALL students. With proper sensitivity training, employers will recognize this.

  • Analytical Thinking is the ability to think through and solve a complex problem. It’s a key soft skill for your child to develop for roles involving creation and innovation. Being able to sort through data or information, see patterns, and come up with a solution is critical.
  • Innovation is the development of something new (a tool, strategy, or process) as a way to improve efficiency. Often when thinking of innovation, the phrase, “think outside of the box” comes to mind. Innovation is a critical skill for your child to have as companies are always looking to improve.
  • Flexibility is the willingness to change or modify a process. This soft skill is essential to success as industries and workplaces are changing constantly. Change is often referred to as the only real constant in life; your child must be able to adjust.
  • Resiliency is the ability to recover from a difficult situation. Resiliency goes hand in hand with flexibility, so your child really has to develop both. Your child not only needs to be able to adjust to change, they also need the ability to adapt in a positive way and make the best of the situations that don’t go as planned.
  • Leadership is the act of motivating or leading a group of people towards a common goal. A good leader uses innovation and creativity to ensure the group is headed in the right direction. Your child can develop some basic leadership skills through projects, extracurriculars, and work experiences by taking initiative and problem-solving.

Your child can develop these skills by keeping an open mind and always looking for ways to grow. They can also seek support from counselors, mentors, and professors, who can provide opportunities for skill development and growth.  


Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

👉 Looking for expert help on the road to college? See our Preferred Partner List!

Other Articles You Might Like:

Your College Student May Need Help After Graduation. Are You Prepared?

Why You Should Research a College’s Career Service Center Before Enrolling

9 Things to Do After Getting Accepted to College




In this article:

Upcoming Events

Similar Articles for You

6 Types of Insurance for College Students and How to Save on Them

College Life

6 Types of Insurance for College Students and How to Save on Them

Students have multiple insurance options when they head off college. Most have health insurance, but many families may not be...

How To Survive Senior Year, From Parents Who’ve Been There


How To Survive Senior Year, From Parents Who’ve Been There

Senior year of high school is stressful for everyone — parents, students, and even the admin high school staff. It’s...

Should Parents Foot The Bill Based on GPA?

College Financial Planning

Should Parents Foot The Bill Based on GPA?

Should decent grades be a requirement for you to help your child pay for college? We asked parents in our...

Become a Member

At Road2College you’ll find everything you need to make the admissions and paying for college process less stressful and more transparent.


Explore R2C Insights™ — your source for finding affordable colleges and merit scholarships.


Get coaching on admissions and college financing.


Join Road2College where parents and experts work together to inform and inspire college-bound families.