What’s a Skill Set? Definition, Job-Specific Examples, and More

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger

Hiring managers are looking for certain skill sets to fill different roles for which they are hiring. Of course, however, there are different types of skills sets that they seek — and some people may be better at some than others. Here is everything you need to know about the various types and how to develop your own skill sets.

What’s a skill set?

A skill set refers to a certain range of either hard or soft skills that people acquire and leverage to perform a job well.

Ok, is it skillset or skill set?

You may have seen skill set spelled as both skill set and skillset. Most would agree that it is spelled skill set. Skillset is generally considered to be incorrect. When sharing your skill sets with an employer, play it safe by spelling any mention of it as two words.

What are the types of skill sets?

There are different types of skill sets.

1. Soft skills

Soft skills are interpersonal people skills and your ability to work with others. These include things like your communication skills, your organization skills, your critical thinking skills,  your team-management skills, your negotiation skills, and more. Soft skills are difficult to quantify but they do tend to come across in interviews.

2. Hard skills

Hard skills refer to technical aptitude — the ability to code, to design, to write, etc. Your hard skills come from knowledge and experiences. These skills are quantifiable and they can be teachable, as well. You can more easily list them on your resume, too.

3. Transferrable skills

Transferable skills refer to skills that can apply to different career fields. They may be your soft skills or your hard skills, but they will need to be applicable in various jobs.

4. Job-specific employment skills

Job-specific employment skills refer to the employment skills that are necessary to get the position. Hiring managers will often list required skills they are seeking in candidates in job adverts.

5 skill set examples, by role

Here are five examples of skill sets for your reference.

1. Project manager skill set

A project manager is someone who is in charge of planning, executing, overseeing, and ultimately closing projects. They are held accountable for the entire scope of the project from start to finish. This requires a specific skill set. A project manager skill set may include skills like leadership, communication, delegation, team-management, time-management, risk-management, and more.

2. Business analyst skill set

A business analyst is someone who is responsible for analyzing the business' product or service and its overall profitability. They do this by developing and keeping tabs on data quality metrics and ensuring that the business is moving in the right direction. A business analyst skill set may include skills like communication, data analysis, organization, problem-solving, critical thinking, and more.  

3. Data scientists skill set

A data scientist is someone who helps businesses make informed decisions by using data and statistics to unpack challenges. They use computer science and math a lot in their work. A data scientist skill set may include skills like data analysis, data visualization, statistics, software engineering, organization, problem-solving, model deployment, and more.

4. General manager skill set

A general manager is someone who is in charge of overseeing the daily operations of a business. A general manager skill set may include skills like leadership, communication, delegation, team-management, time-management, problem-solving, critical thinking, organization, and more.

5. Software engineer skill set

A software engineer is someone who develops and builds computer systems and applications. A software engineer skill set may include skills like problem-solving, engineering, software development, product innovation, programming, coding, and more.

How to develop your skill set 

Of course, there are always ways to brush up on current skill sets and develop new ones. After all, soft skills can improve with experience and hard skills can be learned with training. Here are five ways to develop your skill set.

1. Take a course.

When in doubt, take a course. There are tons of online courses and even in-person classes you can take to develop skills. Sites like Udemy and Coursera out there with infinite online programs in which you can enroll. If you are a coder, for example, but want to learn another code language, you can search for a class that is specific to it. You can also take classes for credits that go toward a higher education.

2. Ask for help.

Never be afraid to ask for help. Everybody has to start somewhere, and it is important that you get the proper training you need to do your job well. You may need to ask for resources or direction. Finding someone to mentor you can be a great way to obtain more knowledge in your field, as well. Your company may have a formal mentorship program, or you may be able to find a mentor in a more informal way. Whatever the case, professional help can certainly  further advance your skill set.

3. Practice, practice, practice.

Remember that practice makes perfect. Consistency is key to improving any skills. The more you exercise a hard skill, for example, the more it will become like muscle memory. Even with soft skills, the more you make a conscious effort to exercise them, the easier and more natural they will become to you. Fake it until you make it!

4. Do your research.

Always do your homework. Read all of the news on your industry. Read books from professionals in your field. Read articles that can help teach you about skills that you want to develop. Just because you are a professional does not mean that you have to stop being a student. Always being a learner will help you to continuously grow.

5. Get experience.

If you don't have the experience for a certain skill set, you should go out and get it. We know, it sounds like a Catch-22: you need experience to get experience. But getting experience may mean taking an internship or doing unpaid volunteer work or asking your employer for a shot at an opportunity for which they may not have otherwise considered you had you not said anything. Or, perhaps, someone may just give you a chance even without the experience. 

About the Career Expert:

AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.