To be able to succeed as a freelancer, you need to be equipped with not only hard skills but also soft skills as well. You might be wondering what are those hard skills and soft skills, what are their differences and importance in your chosen career in freelancing. What is more important? Let’s dig in deeper.
The difference of Hard Skills from Soft Skills
Hard skills are taught skills, developed through study and training. They are objective, measureable, and specific to each job and are often the basis of job requirements. Clients look for hard skills on your resume to gauge how well you’d be able to perform job duties. Examples of hard skills are knowledge of language/foreign language, writing, programming, familiarity of software, designing, selling, and accounting qualification, among others.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are non-measurable. They come in the form of natural abilities and are not specific to any job. Soft skills are personality traits that help define character but offer less proof of experience than hard skills. Examples of soft skills are leadership, work ethics, communication, problem solving, punctuality, dependability to mention a few.
The importance of Hard skills and Soft Skills
In a job description, clients often seek for a mixture of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are related to specific technical knowledge and training while soft skills are personality traits such as work attitude. Both types of skills are necessary to successfully perform and advance in most freelancing jobs.
Soft skills are very important in your career and as you search for jobs. While hard skills are needed to successfully perform technical responsibilities in a job, soft skills are necessary to create a positive and functional work environment.
For this reason, clients often seek individuals who possess proven soft and hard skills. Some clients may prefer to select candidates who have a stronger set of soft skills over hard skills, as soft skills are at times more difficult to develop.
Have you ever heard other clients that they hire for attitude rather than skills? Well other clients do, because of such.
Hard skills and soft skills are correspondingly important for a freelancer. If you don’t have the quantifiable hard skills to do a project, you may never get one. On the other hand, after you get a project, you need to use your soft skills to guarantee client satisfaction, happy feedback that you can use for more possible future projects acquisitions.
Your relationship with your client will depend on how trust is built between you. This, in turn, will depend on your possessed soft and hard skills. It should be a balance of both.
Why You Should Have Both?
Let’s take a look at a Virtual Assistant position, both skills are very essential. If you are technically equipped but you could not stay composed under pressure, you will find it hard to keep up with the demand of a certain job. Client might as well choose the applicant who knows how to manage pressure over the applicant who is credentials fitted for the job.
I actually got hired today by a client I talked to yesterday. While we were talking, he shared his experience in hiring Filipino virtual assistants from the Philippines.
He told me that he has been in contact with several VAs that are no doubt skilled and perfect for the position he is looking to fill. However, when he talked to most of them, in just a couple of minutes, he was able to tell that it wasn’t going to work.
I asked him why and his answer was simple. “I sensed a lot of entitlement. I know they KNOW how to do all the skills that I am looking for, but I don’t like it when they sound entitled. I know that won’t work.”
Anyway, the rate is not an issue here because he accepted my rate which was higher, for the same job. He also hired someone earlier this year whose rate is higher than mine. There is no question about this freelancer, she is skilled with the perfect skill set for the job. She just lacks one thing, commitment.
It was clearly stated in the contract that the client wants his freelancer to update him everyday of the things that were done that day, and also update him with an excel sheet every 2 weeks for the overall update. Surprisingly, as simple as this instruction is, the high-rated freelancer seem to think that she is way above the updating task. She never updated the client daily.
After that, the client went and contacted the least skilled one. So, yeah, he went back to this freelancer with less skills but is more of a joy to work with. This freelancer worked for him for several months, without missing a single day of report to him. He didn’t make it a big deal even if the freelancer is still on the learning stage of the skills he wanted, but the fact that the freelancer shares the same goal as him, and shows respect to what he wants as a client, is what made him keep her.
The client mentioned that he knows that skills are important, but for him, what matters most is that the freelancer he will choose jives with him and is committed to help him.
This, for me, is a perfect example of the importance of soft skills.
How to Showcase Your Hard Skills And Soft Skills in your resume and cover letter?
To make sure prospective clients are aware of your skills, highlight them on your resume. You can include a skills section that enumerates relevant skills with the position you are applying for.
For instance, if you’re applying for a job where you’ll need to have an accounting background, and also that needs communicate with foreign clients successfully, you can include similar experience based on the job description. You might want to mention them also during job interviews.
Take account of relevant skills in your cover letter. Your cover letter is also a chance to showcase both sets of skills. When it comes to soft skills, rather than saying you have a soft skill, establish that you have it.
For instance, rather than saying “I have good management skills,” you can say, “As a manager at ECE Company, I directed a team that produced great feedback and the company was able to achieve its goal.”
Hard skills and soft skills are correspondingly important for a freelancer. If you don’t have the measurable hard skills to do a project, you may never get a certain one. On the other hand, after you get a project, you need to use your soft skills to guarantee client satisfaction and a happy feedback that you can use for more possible future projects acquisitions.
Well, every job requires a balance between hard and soft skills. Remember, whether you are applying for a service position or a technical job, it’s your combination of hard and soft skills that will set you apart from the others.
How about you? Do you have an experience where it made you realize how important it is to have soft skills? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear.
If you want to watch our episode one, where we talked about the importance of soft skills in freelancing, please watch here:
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