Craftsmen bring various skills to the job site. Still, a long list of abilities isn’t enough to lock in a rewarding position. You need to have the right combination of skills. Industrial employers are looking for candidates with complimentary hard and soft skillsets. If you’re a little confused by those categories, you’re not alone! This little-known distinction can help set you apart in your job search. Let’s explore the difference between hard and soft skills and why craftsmen need both to succeed.
Hard skills relate to the concrete abilities and knowledge you need to succeed in a specific role. On the flip side, soft skills refer to personal characteristics that help you navigate the circumstances of the position. You can’t have a successful career as a craftsman relying on only one set of skills. Together, hard and soft skills make for a well-rounded, capable, and highly sought-after professional.
Hard skills, commonly referred to as technical skills, are specific to any given position. Every craftsman role will have a unique set of abilities required by employers. For example, an HVAC technician would need to know how to handle refrigerant, but that technical knowledge wouldn’t benefit a pipefitter. In contrast, a pipefitter should be able to strike an arc correctly which wouldn’t help an HVAC tech very much. While there’s some overlap between the hard skills craftsmen need to succeed, most of these capabilities are highly specialized.
Some examples of essential hard skills for craftsmen include:
- Handling specialized equipment
- Determining the right tools for the job
- Reading blueprint designs
- Using construction management software
- Executing proper safety protocols
Essentially, any piece of knowledge or physical ability specifically related to your role will be considered a hard skill.
Soft skills are characteristics or personality traits that help people within their roles. As a broader category, there are many soft skills relevant to all craftsmen positions regardless of their focus. For instance, both an HVAC specialist and a pipefitter should be able to work well within a team setting, communicate effectively with clients, and maintain a customer-friendly attitude. Of course, there are some job-specific soft skills, but the vast majority are desired by all employers.
Some examples of crucial soft skills that all craftsmen should have include:
- Communication and collaboration
- Emotional intelligence
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Active listening
As you can see, soft skills are more like characteristics and behaviors rather than concrete skills.
Developing hard skills is fairly straightforward. You can develop technical prowess in various areas by going to school, signing up for an apprenticeship, or simply practicing on your own. The keys to gaining new hard skills are expert instruction and repetition. A craftsman’s hard skills are easy to measure with certificates or degrees.
Soft skills are slightly trickier to gain and track. Unlike hard skills, they’re not tangible or clear-cut. You need to rely on personal reflection and feedback from others to assess where your soft skills are at. If you’re routinely making the same mistakes or receiving consistent constructive criticism from others, you might be able to pinpoint a soft skill that’s out of whack. You can read books, listen to podcasts, or even speak with employers to hone your soft skills.
Neither! Both hard and soft skills are essential to develop along your craftsman career. Employers want to see the raw talent, specialized knowledge, and technical skills on top of the ability to operate and communicate efficiently. When crafting a skills-based resume, you should go out of your way to highlight some of the most relevant hard and soft skills for the open position.
Not able to find the job you want? The staffing experts at Madden Craftsmen have you covered! For over 35 years, we’ve helped qualified craftsmen just like you find work with some of the premier industrial employers in the country. Check out our job search for immediate job openings nearest you!