If you are a student, working adult, or a job seeker, you are probably familiar with these two terms: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are those that can be tested, and be given a certificate for. They are often the qualifiers that enable you to even secure an interview. For example, you need to know about computer programmes to work in the IT department. While soft skills are those that help you in your work in all other ways, for instance, collaboration with your fellow workers, and so on.

About one or two decades ago we saw the rise of soft skills. Employers started emphasizing on soft skills on the resume. Soft skills, often hard to be tested or calculated, such as presentation skills, project management, and problem solving ability then become hot cakes that everyone chase after.

Today, strong communication skills are among the most conventional that you will see on a job requirement column. We have clearly witnessed a change in mindset, but moving on, is it staying intact?

The truth, often raising hair on job applicants’ arms, is that we are turning another 180 degree. In other words, we are back to square one. Employers are putting increasingly heavy weight on hard skills, because of the job gap in the market. The best part? Often, you are not only required to be good in your relative areas of study, in which you are already expected to be proficient. Rather, you need to be equipped with multiple hard skills outside of your professions.

Here are a handful of most in-demand hard skills:

Computer Applications

  • Whether you are working in finance, hardware, manufacturing or education, you need to work with your best friend – the computer. Various programmes are required for a smooth operations, hence a rather solid set of computer skills are desirable. You need Microsoft Excel for spreadsheet and organizing, and Adobe PDF to produce and annotate PDF files. But beyond that, if you are literate in advanced applications like Adobe Illustrator, Autodesk, or ERP software, you are well positioned to be able to shoulder the responsibilities required of you.

Programming languages

  • In today’s information era, you need to communicate with the machines. The channel is only one, that is through programming languages. PHP, Java and Javascript are among the few common languages that you need to know. Build a programme, set a butterfly flying on the screen with those codes. You will find it useful when your fellow IT colleagues have too many tasks at hand to take in yours, or you need some programming tweaks here and there for your project.

Business writing

  • This might seem an unnecessary item on the list until you know how many in the workforce today are unaware of the format of a formal business letter. No matter how people lean towards Silicon Valley’s laid back office culture, there will be times when you need to come back to the formal. Yes, you have to know how to write in business language. Use appropriate titles and choices of word, because you never know when a misplaced “the” is costing your reputation.

These skills may sound intimidating, but in the long run they prove to be extremely useful in your daily task and operation, even your career advancement. There are a lot of resources available to aid your learning, so start empowering yourself today.