As a freelancer, you need to be proficient in hard skills as well as soft skills to succeed. You might be scratching your head wondering what the difference between the two is. Read on to find out.
What is the difference between hard skills and soft skills?
First, let us make a distinction between hard skills and soft skills. In a nutshell, hard skills are skills you need to do a specific job. Examples of hard skills are writing, programming, designing, selling, etc. These are skills which are quantifiable and directly create value.
Soft skills are harder to quantify. They are also known as “people skills” or “interpersonal skills.” Examples of these are communication, empathy, organizing, leadership and building relationships. Soft skills do add value but in an indirect manner.
The importance of hard skills:
Hard skills are necessary to ensure that you can complete a job for a client. If you are unable to write fluently, then you’ll find it difficult to write for a client. If you are going to bid for a web design project, you need to have knowledge and experience in developing websites. You may be an awesome content writer, but unless you know how to create websites, you should stay away from applying for web design projects.
The importance of soft skills:
Soft skills are important in ensuring that you have satisfied customers. These are important and often are the difference between the success of a project and its failure. Here are a few essential soft skills for a freelancer:
Good communication skills are one of the most important soft skills. You should be strong on empathy and be able to interpret statements of your customer and react accordingly. Also, state your comments in an appropriate way which conveys your intent to the client. As a freelancer, the majority of communication with your customer might be over email and the phone. Written word can be misunderstood quite easily, so make sure you proofread all emails and think twice about what to say over the phone. In the case of any delays in meeting deadlines, do not hesitate in letting your customer know immediately. That is much better than informing him on the day of the deadline itself which will end up messing up his schedule.
2) Being organized:
Being well organized is important if you want to deliver multiple assignments in a seamless fashion. If you are working on separate projects at the same time, you might get mixed up unless you are well organized. Use calendaring or project management tools and track the schedule of each project you are working on. Make different work folders on your computer’s hard disk. Save documents in the respective folders to ensure you don’t get mixed up. These are small steps in ensuring that you are able to satisfy each and every client you work for.
3) Being able to solve problems:
Employers value freelancers who can solve their problems. Showcase your resourcefulness in finding solutions. Take the initiative when presented with a problem. Making your employer’s headache go away highlights your problem-solving capabilities. It helps in getting glowing feedback and more projects in the future.
4) Being dependable:
Freelancers have to fight against the perception that they are not dependable, especially if you are new for an employer. Employers have deadlines, and in case you meet them on a regular basis, you will become a trusted resource for them. But, failing deadlines can get you bumped off their “go-to” list in a very short time.
Hard skills and soft skills are equally important for a freelancer. If you don’t have the quantifiable hard skills to do a project, you may never get one. On the other hand, after you get a project, you need to use your soft skills to ensure customer satisfaction, glowing feedback, and future projects.
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