A job description is a crucial part of the hiring process, and its copy contains many elements, including a job title, summary, job responsibilities, daily operations, and required past experience. However, within the job description, the skills and qualifications set the standard and create a picture of your ideal candidate. Job seekers will match their resume skills (soft skill/ hard skill), essential physical requirements, and education to these to determine if they are at the right career level, with the correct skill set and relevant experience, to have a shot at securing one of your job opportunities.
Therefore, to catch the attention of strong candidates, your job description should contain a high-level overview of the required education and skills. It would help if you considered precisely the skill sets, personal strengths, and general knowledge needed to complete essential activities satisfactorily, handle technical matters, catch errors, meet deadlines, and gel within your team environment. But where do you begin?
In this article on job description soft skills, hard skills, and qualifications, we delve into the following:
- What is the difference between skills and qualifications?
- What are the top job skills to include in job descriptions?
- What are the top qualifications to include in a job description?
- Qualifications and skills for all job titles
What Is The Difference Between Skills And Qualifications?
Skills and qualifications are two terms that are often used interchangeably in the context of job descriptions and employment, but they do represent distinct concepts, so it helps to have thorough knowledge of them.
Skills Definition: Skills refer to the abilities a person has developed, which can be applied in various contexts. They can be categorized into hard and soft skills. Hard skills are often technical or job-specific skills that can be learned through education, training, or on-the-job experience. Hard skills examples include programming languages for a Software Developer or fluency in a foreign language for a Translator. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are less tangible but crucial for almost every job. They are related to how a person interacts with others and manages their work. Examples include communication, problem-solving, and adaptability.
Qualifications Definition: Qualifications, meanwhile, are the formal recognitions of one's skills, knowledge, or experience. They are often represented by degrees, diplomas, certificates, or professional titles that are usually obtained through formal education or professional bodies. For example, having a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science is a qualification. Similarly, being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional qualification.
In essence, skills and qualifications are related, but they signify different aspects of a candidate's ability to perform a job. Skills reflect the practical abilities a candidate possesses, while qualifications are formal recognitions or proof of certain skills or knowledge a candidate has acquired. When hiring, your should look at both elements, considering a candidate's skills to assess their practical capabilities, and their qualifications to validate these capabilities.
What Are The Top Job Skills To Include In Job Descriptions?
When writing an effective job description, it is vital to select the top soft skills for the skills section. There are many soft skills to choose from and some of the most relevant skills to consider include the following:
CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS
Customer service skills involve the ability to interact with customers and meet their needs effectively. They include strong communication skills, patience, empathy, problem-solving abilities, and a positive attitude. Exceptional customer service skills lead to customer satisfaction and build loyalty.
These skills are vital in jobs that involve direct contact with customers. They are particularly relevant in roles such as Customer Service Representatives, Sales Associates, Retail Managers, Receptionists, and also in hospitality and food service roles.
Interpersonal skills, often referred to as 'people skills', involve the ability to interact effectively with others (your existing talent pool). They include empathy, active listening, conflict resolution, and the capacity to understand and respond to the needs of others.
Interpersonal skills are some of the best skills for any role that involves interaction with others. These skills are particularly important in customer service, sales, healthcare, social work, and management roles. They also play a significant role in fostering a positive and productive work environment.
Communication skills refer to one's ability to convey information clearly and effectively. This can involve speaking, writing, listening, and even non-verbal communication like body language.
Communication skills are important in almost every job. Roles that rely heavily on these skills include those in public relations, marketing, sales, journalism, and teaching. However, in any job that involves working as part of a team or dealing with clients or customers, strong communication skills are crucial.
Leadership skills refer to the abilities needed to guide and inspire a team towards achieving a common goal. They involve decision-making, problem-solving, delegating tasks, motivating others, and taking responsibility for operations performed.
Leadership skills are relevant in roles such as Managers, Executives, and Team Leaders. However, complete mastery of these skills can also be beneficial in non-leadership roles, where employees can display leadership by taking initiative, making decisions, and influencing their peers positively.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS
Project management skills involve the ability to plan, execute, and oversee projects to ensure they are completed in a timely fashion and within budget. Key project management skills include organization, risk management, multitasking, and the ability to use project management tools.
These skills are crucial for Project Managers across various industries like IT, construction, and marketing. But they're also relevant for other roles that involve overseeing projects or tasks from beginning to end, like Event Planners, Architects, and Business Analysts.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Attention to detail refers to the ability to focus on the minute aspects of tasks and projects, ensuring accuracy and consistency, even in a fast paced environment. It involves being thorough, observant, and meticulous in one's work.
Jobs that require strong attention to detail include roles such as Editors, Accountants, Software Developers, Data Analysts, and Pharmacists. However, in any role, the ability to minimize errors, produce high-quality work, and spot issues before they become problems can be beneficial.
Problem-solving involves the ability to analyze a problem, identify possible solutions, and implement the best course of action. It requires critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to work under pressure.
Problem-solving skills are essential in roles such as Consultants, Analysts, Engineers, and Managers. However, given that problems can arise in any job, being a capable problem-solver can be a valuable asset in nearly any role.
Time management involves the ability to effectively plan and organize one's time to complete tasks efficiently. It requires setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and being aware of deadlines.
Time management skills are relevant for a wide range of roles. They are particularly important for roles such as Project Managers, Executives, Administrators, and Freelancers, where handling multiple tasks or projects simultaneously is part of the job.
Business administration skills refer to the abilities needed to manage business operations efficiently and effectively. This encompasses a broad range of skills, including financial management, organizational leadership, project planning, strategic decision-making, and understanding of marketing principles.
Business administration skills are particularly relevant for roles such as Business Managers, Administrative Officers, Operations Managers, and Executives. However, these skills can also benefit employees in a range of positions, providing them with a better understanding of how their role fits into the wider business context and how they can contribute to the organization's overall goals.
What Are The Top Qualifications To Include In A Job Description?
What constitutes ‘qualified candidates’ will certainly include their hard skills, encompassing their education, qualifications, technical skills gained through completing courses, and certifications. To ensure you do not disqualify suitable candidates or inadvertently bring hiring bias into your recruitment process, it is vital to distinguish between required qualifications and preferred qualifications:
Required Qualifications Definition: These are the minimum education, experience, skills, and other criteria that a candidate must have to be considered for a position. Required qualifications are non-negotiable and are often essential for the performance of the job duties. They might include a specific degree, certain professional certifications, a certain number of years of experience in a particular role or industry, or proficiency in a particular set of skills or tools.
Preferred Qualifications Definition: These are additional qualifications that an employer believes would be beneficial for a role, but they are not strictly necessary. Preferred qualifications can be seen as ‘nice-to-haves’ rather than ‘must-haves.’ Candidates who meet these qualifications may be more competitive and may be able to perform the job at a higher level or with less on-the-job training. Examples could include comprehensive knowledge or experience with a particular software not crucial to the role, knowledge of a second language, or experience in a specific industry niche.
With sufficient comprehension of these basic principles and considering the job purpose, you can select the best qualifications for your job posting and identify them as ‘required’ or preferred.’
HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA
A high school diploma is an academic qualification awarded upon high school graduation in the United States. It signifies the successful completion of a prescribed set of coursework from grades 9 to 12. This qualification is fundamental for many entry-level positions and is often a prerequisite for advanced education and training programs.
Vocational education, also known as career and technical education, is a type of educational program that teaches practical career skills. This type of education prepares individuals for specific trades, crafts, and careers, ranging from healthcare to culinary arts to technical jobs in areas like automotive repair or computer technology. The training programs for these new skills can lead to credentials like certificates or diplomas.
An associate degree is a two-year post-secondary degree offered by community colleges, technical schools, and some universities. These programs offer a mix of general education and courses specific to a particular field of study. Associate degrees can prepare students for entry-level careers or can serve as a stepping stone towards a bachelor's degree, as many of the credits earned can be transferred to a four-year program.
A bachelor's degree is an undergraduate degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study that typically lasts four years. This degree is typically required for entry into many professional careers. Degrees can be earned in a wide array of disciplines, from the arts and humanities to the sciences and social sciences.
A master's degree is a postgraduate degree that typically requires one to three years of study after earning a bachelor's. It allows individuals to specialize in a particular field of study or professional practice. Earning a master's degree can enhance job prospects, provide in-depth knowledge and skills, and may be necessary for certain advanced professional roles or to pursue a doctoral degree.
A doctoral degree, such as the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), is the highest level of academic degree in most fields. It typically requires several years of study after a master’s degree, along with the completion of original research presented in a dissertation. This degree is typically pursued by those seeking to become experts in their field, often with the goal of teaching at the university level or conducting high-level research.
Qualifications And Skills For All Job Titles
If you still feel unsure of what to include in a job specification or are stuck completing a job description template, you can find the job description qualifications and skills for any job title through the business sectors below:
Job Descriptions Skills And Qualifications FAQs
Now, we undertake the task of answering the frequently asked questions of Hiring Managers, employers, and job seekers on skills and qualifications on job descriptions:
Skills are the abilities, knowledge, or expertise someone has that enable them to perform tasks and solve problems. Skills can be categorized into two main types: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities often involving technical knowledge, such as computer programming, data analysis, or foreign language fluency. Soft skills, on the other hand, are less tangible but equally important. They pertain to the way people interact with each other and their environment, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
Qualifications on a job description refer to the essential criteria a job candidate must meet to be considered for a role. They can include education level (such as a bachelor's degree in a related field), professional certifications (like Certified Public Accountant for an accounting role), years of experience in a specific area, or particular technical skills (such as proficiency in a certain software). For instance, qualifications for a Software Developer role might include a degree in computer science and proficiency in programming languages like Python or Java.
Under "qualifications and skills", you should list the specific education, experience, technical abilities, and soft skills required for the job vacancy. This will depend on the specific job and industry. For example, for a Project Manager position, qualifications might include a degree in business management and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Skills could include proficiency in project management software, excellent communication skills, and proven ability in leading teams and managing budgets. Always focus on the most important skills and qualifications that a candidate needs to perform the job effectively.