Hard skills matter more than you might think in your job search. If you don’t have the hard skills required by potential employers, your job search will suffer.
What is a hard skill?
A hard skill is one that can be learned. For example, a hard skill for a warehousing worker might be 3PL Warehouse Manager or Asset Panda. Not to be confused with a soft skill, which is more like behaviors, such as persuasion or collaboration.
Why hard skills matter
When you apply for a job, many employers first filter applicants by hard skills. In fact, most companies have an application tracking system (ATS) that does just that, without any human intervention at all. If your skillset doesn’t match those in the job posting, it’s the equivalent of your resume going straight to the trash.
Even if a company doesn’t use an ATS or prefers to involve a human along the way (perhaps even meeting a hiring manager at a career fair), one of the first professional evaluations to occur is a review of your hard skills. If you have what they need, your chances of getting that job just increased.
Let’s say you get that interview and are a top candidate. Who will get the offer? Most likely, the person with the closest hard skills match.
Converting military hard skills
Your time in the military gave you many new hard skills – perhaps even with products not available outside the military. It’s just knowing how to translate them to your advantage in the civilian job market.
First, find a military skills translator, whether on the Web (Google it) or with a skilled resume writer who specializes in veterans resumes. Even if you have someone do the paperwork, you still need to commit similar products to memory so you can talk about it in an interview. If you are asked if you know a particular product, you can respond with “no, but I’ve used a similar product, and since they are so similar, it’ll be easy for me to learn quickly.” That answer showcases your soft skills, such as confidence and ability to learn. Soft skills that employers desire!
While most employers have told me they seek specific soft skills, the entry to barrier will be your hard skills. Without the hard skills employers need, your job search will struggle. Make the most of your career by staying on top of industry trends and taking advantage of any opportunity to add a new product to your hard skillset.