Navigating a career in the not-for-profit sector requires a unique blend of hard skills and soft skills. Whether you’re managing projects, crafting compelling grant proposals, or leading a team of dedicated volunteers, understanding and honing these different skills can significantly impact your effectiveness and career progression.
Pathways Australia is here to help you achieve personal and organisational goals. Our courses enable you to develop a balanced skill set tailored to the demands and nuances of the non-profit world.
Continue reading to learn more about balancing hard and soft skills to ensure you’re well-equipped to succeed in your current or future role.
What are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are technical abilities or knowledge that can be definitively measured and tend to be acquired through formal education, training, or on-the-job experience. These skills are specific to certain jobs or fields and are indispensable in both blue and white-collar settings. What form they take will depend on the industry you are in; they can range from the proficiency to use a certain software or tool to the ability to perform a specific type of analysis.
For example, if you work as a financial professional within the non-for-profit sector, skills like financial modelling, tax preparation, or financial forecasting fall into this category. If you are a communications professional, copywriting, editing, social media management, and strategy development are all applicable hard skills.
Hard skills tend to be more objective than their soft counterparts. They are easier to quantify, meaning they can be tested with relative ease. In a job application or interview, they may be what potential employers look at first, as they provide a clear and direct measure of a candidate’s capacity to successfully execute specific tasks related to the job.
What are Soft Skills?
Soft skills, also known as ‘people skills’ or ‘interpersonal skills,’ refer to non-technical abilities that relate to how you work and interact with others. Unlike hard skills that are learned and mastered over time, soft skills are often seen as inherent personality traits. However, it’s important to know that they can be nurtured over time — if you don’t possess a specific soft skill, it does not mean you don’t have the capacity to develop it.
Soft skills are critical in the workplace and can greatly affect how you relate to others, make decisions, and navigate your work environment. While hard skills might get your foot in the door, it’s often the soft skills that employers look for when deciding who to promote or entrust with leadership roles. In the face of automation and digital transformation, soft skills have become even more vital as they represent the uniquely human qualities that machines can’t replicate.
Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills — Which Should I Focus On?
Deciding whether to focus on hard skills or soft skills really depends on the stage of your career you are at and what you are hoping to achieve. Both types of skills both play a significant role in shaping you into a well-rounded professional, so you should not completely abandon one for the other.
If you are looking to get your foot in the door in a completely new industry, it’s a wise idea to focus on hard skills. Few employers are going to invite you to an interview if your resume doesn’t reflect the fact you can ably carry out basic tasks associated with the role.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on moving up in your current organisation or seeking a management position elsewhere, soft skills are incredibly important. Communication, empathy, project management and problem-solving are all crucial to building and leading a cohesive team.
Plus, it pays to consider what is going on in the wider landscape. As machines and AI develop the capacity to take on a greater number of tasks, it’s becoming increasingly clear that these devices don’t have the capacity to replicate unique human soft skills, like creative thinking and emotional intelligence.
Invest in Your Career With Pathways Australia
If you’re looking to accelerate your career within the non-for-profit sector, Pathways is here to help.
We offer a variety of in-person and online courses designed to develop both soft and hard skills, helping you update your resume and build abilities that will assist you in conquering challenges in the 21st-century workplace.
Browse our range of courses today, and feel free to contact our team if you have any questions.