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NB: This UK CV template was originally published on 10th February 2016 and has been completely updated for 2020.
Writing your care support worker CV: the difference between hard and soft skills
Having the right skills on your care support worker CV is the key to gaining an interview. But did you know there are two types of skills? If you’ve never heard of a hard or even soft skill, you are not alone. Read on to find out the difference between hard and soft skills and how you can improve your CV.
What is a hard skill?
Also known as a specific skill, a hard skill refers to anything that would typically require training or qualifications. For instance, computer programming or machine operation is a specific skill. The employer would usually request this skill on the job advert and you would need to hold it to apply.
So when it comes to a hard skill you can see that it would often be a vital part of the job. Only certain people who work in the industry and have trained and qualified would hold a particular skill. However, you would not typically need to train or gain a qualification for a soft skill.
Examples of hard skills for care support workers include:
- Ability to perform a care needs assessment
- Ability to administer medication
- Ability to perform basic tests such as taking blood pressure or measuring height & weight
- Ability to use patient software
- IT skills such as typing and using Microsoft software
- Ability to write neatly
You can immediately see that these skills are specific and measurable.
What is a soft skill?
There are two types of skills which are used every day in the work place. The first we’ve already discussed, which is a specific skill. But in order to use that skill to its full potential you would need to have a variety of strong soft skills.
A soft skill is what binds everything together and allows us to function within the workplace. Communication is a soft skill, and one of the most commonly used every day. Problem solving and time management are also soft skills. So you can see that the opposite of a hard or specific skill is something which we all use every day.
What soft skills are relevant to a care support worker CV?
Daily interaction between co-workers and customers requires a care support worker to develop and maintain a variety of soft skills. Certain soft skills are more important than others, and this is naturally very role and career dependant. For example, a journalist would require a very high level of written and verbal communication skills, whilst a project manager would make great use of organisation, problem solving, teamwork and time management. Care and support workers need a range of soft skills, including:
- A positive, happy demeanour
- The ability to multitask
- The ability to think and make decisions quickly
- Being able to take responsibility
- Being a great listener
- Empathy and kindness
- Being willing to learn
- Being willing to go above and beyond
- Good attention to detail
It is hard to imagine how you could effectively carry out your role unless you possess all of the above skills to some degree. However, some of the skills, such as communication, the ability to multitask, thinking and making decisions quickly, and teamwork, will improve with experience.
How can I improve my soft skills?
Although there are courses which would help you to train certain skills, for the most part they are learned through experience and practice. For example, you could go on a training course to learn about administering medication, but you would need to practice in order to get better at communication.
Most of us learn and development soft skills from education, but don’t really get to put them into action properly until full time employment. This is where the development starts to begin through interaction and daily tasks.
What are the most common skills care employers look for?
Your CV must demonstrate both hard and soft skills if you want to get an interview. Hard skills can simply be listed, but demonstrating soft skills takes more creativity. The best way to show these is through practical examples of where you have used them. By presenting the employer with evidence of your performance, you are proving that you must have the relevant soft skills in order to achieve success.
To help you decide which soft skills to include on your CV,
(a) read the job profile and take note of anything the employer has mentioned specifically (see: How to tailor your CV to the role)
(b) review support worker job profiles to see what employers commonly look for. For example:
- Care Worker (National Careers Service)
- ‘The Role of a Care Support Worker’ (Stonebridge) which includes a list of sought after skills
- ‘The Different Roles of a Support Worker’ (SocialCare.co.uk) which may assist if you are moving from one type of support work to another
(c) Read more about the employer on their website and social media pages to find out more about their ethos, approach and the type of employees they look for
In addition to the skills mentioned above, employers in this industry generally value:
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Ability to build a rapport
- Building up a rapport
- Leadership (where applicable)
Find out more: How to show soft skills on your CV
See more CV templates: In our Care and Nursing CV section