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

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

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 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; however, it’s important for graduates to have a general understanding and develop the following skills while in college:

  • 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.  






Melanie Forstall Lemoine

Melanie Forstall Lemoine, Ph.D. is a member of the Special Education faculty at Southeastern Louisiana University. Shas worked in the field of education for over 20 years as a teacher, grant writer, program director, and higher education instructor. She is a freelance writer specializing in education, and education-related content. Additionally, she has co-authored book chapters focused on providing services for students with disabilities. She is also a freelance blogger and lifestyle writer for various publications.