Different Types and Examples of Job Qualifications

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 September 2021

Job qualifications are an integral part of the entire hiring process. They're the tools that employers use to explain what skills they think are absolutely crucial for a candidate to have and the unique attributes you can use to impress potential employers. Getting noticed for the right reasons can ultimately help get you hired. In this article, we explain qualifications in more depth by highlighting different types and providing useful examples of how to best use your qualifications to improve your CV and cover letter.

Related: How to Improve Your Attention to Detail

Types of job qualifications

There are several kinds of qualifications an employer can look for when trying to find the right person for a job. Job qualifications can include the education, skills, experience and even personal qualities you possess that make you a great candidate. Here are a few examples of common qualification requirements listed on job postings:

  • university degree

  • excellent organisational skills

  • great communication skills

  • English language proficiency

  • experience working with industry-specific technology

A good way to understand what kinds of qualifications you can include on your CV is to take a closer look at the types of qualifications out there. Broadly speaking, job criteria can fall into five categories: tangible qualifications, intangible qualifications, hard skills, soft skills and transferrable skills.

Tangible qualifications

Tangible job qualifications are those qualities that have hard evidence to back them up and are easy to quantify. They are the physically perceived and measured qualifications that prove to an employer that you have a desired set of skills. A potential employer may need proof of your driving licence, for example, if the job requires it. Examples of tangible job capabilities include:

  • educational certificates or qualifications, such as a university degree

  • a specific accreditation from an industry regulatory body, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or PRINCE2 qualification

  • a driver's licence

  • proof that you can work in the UK, such as a visa or proof of identity

These provable job skills can also extend to measured results you've achieved in previous jobs. If you're applying for a sales executive position, chances are you need some kind of measurable proof of your past success in this area, such as improved sales figures. Certifications are usually necessary and non-negotiable qualifications for particular roles. However, this may vary depending on the job and industry.

Intangible qualifications

Intangible qualifications are the unquantifiable qualifications that aren't necessarily needed from a legal perspective but are still crucial to the role in question. There are all kinds of intangible qualifications an employer may feel are vital to their posted job:

  • time management

  • strategising

  • dependability

  • teamwork skills

  • critical thinking

  • problem-solving skills

Intangible skills are just as important as technical or tangible ones. Without a personality to match the tangible skill set, you could still end up not being the ideal candidate for the role in question. Demonstrating that you can drive a car or lorry isn't the same as having the time management skills to get those goods to where they need to be in a timely manner. In essence, intangible qualifications can be measurable through examples and experience, rather than metrics or certification.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Soft skills

Similar to intangible qualifications, soft skills are another step away from tangible job criteria, as they are even less quantifiable than intangible skills. Usually, soft skills are qualifications that are easier to describe than to quantify or measure. Soft skill job qualifications have to do with the type of person you are rather than the skills you have, and they're just as important to potential employers. Examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication: This encompasses everything from how you go about interacting with team mates to what tone you adopt when sending emails to high-ranking stakeholders. In the workplace, good communication skills promote happy relationships and help work get done efficiently.

  • Empathy: Empathy is the ability to really understand the feelings of others. Employers value empathy because it helps ensure compatible workplace relationships and client satisfaction.

  • Teamwork: Collaboration can help get difficult problems solved more effectively. Teamwork is also a great way to foster creativity and ingenuity in the workplace.

  • Adaptability: The ability to make meaningful, informed decisions without feeling overwhelmed in a variety of circumstances is a must have for many employers. It shows that you're able to take on and overcome change.

  • Attention to detail: Attention to detail refers to an employee's level of accuracy and thoroughness when completing tasks. Important for all roles and sought after by many employers, attention to detail can indicate potential productivity and efficiency.

Soft skill qualifications can affect the way an employee interacts with colleagues, teammates, consumers or stakeholders. Soft skills are especially important in people-oriented or customer-facing roles such as customer service, where interaction and teamwork are necessary components of doing well within a position.

Hard skills

Hard skills are those skills that may not be quantifiable in the same way as tangible qualifications but are still demonstrable to some extent, usually through training. Think of those specific tasks or goals you've accomplished in previous roles in the past that made you stand out, such as learning the intricacies of CMS systems or a specific programming language, or learning to use a particular tool or piece of equipment. Examples of hard skills include:

  • coding ability

  • typing speed

  • proficiency in a foreign language

  • SEO marketing skills

  • proficiency using specific computer software

These types of qualifications demonstrate that you have built up knowledge in a specific area that a potential employer might consider a crucial asset to the role you're interested in. Hard skills are a great way to demonstrate that you need less supervision or training to excel at a role.

Transferrable skills

Transferrable skills are those qualifications that apply to all kinds of situations, industries or environments. They are the skills that you can easily carry from one position to the next, and they are a useful tool when it comes to applying for a new position or making a career change.

Transferrable soft skills

Many soft skills are considered transferrable because they usually have a lot to do with job situations where communication and interaction with others are key. For example, effective communication is considered a transferrable skill because it's important to have across many roles, such as education roles, sales roles, receptionist roles or service roles. Some examples of soft transferrable skills that employers look for include:

  • Communication skills: These include oral and written communication, interpersonal communication, listening skills, public speaking and relationship building.

  • Analytical skills: These include data and metrics interpreting, diagnostics, forecasting, problem-solving, reporting and researching.

  • Management skills: These include people and project management, conflict resolution, finance and budgeting, recruitment and presentation skills.

  • Leadership skills: These include commitment, strategic thinking, critical thinking and decision making.

Transferrable hard skills

Some hard skills are very transferrable as well depending on the role you're interested in. Having a driver's licence is a transferrable hard skill since you would need to possess one in order to have a job as a delivery driver, taxi driver or even as a car dealership representative. A first aid certificate is also a transferrable skill and is an excellent qualification for lifeguarding, some educational roles or personal trainer roles. Examples of hard transferrable skills that may catch the eye of many employers include:

  • coding or data analysis

  • general certifications like having a driver's licence or First Aid Certificate

  • typing ability

  • proficiency in another language

  • project management

  • computer skills

Related: Analytical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Experience rather than qualifications

There are many reasons why some job seekers opt for focusing on experience rather than qualifications. A degree is a prestigious title to hold, and may always be an asset. But showing off your experience, if you have it, is also a great way to stand out. Tangible qualifications, like having experience in niche areas such as computer coding, carry a lot of weight when applying for jobs in which this skill is good to have.

Employers may often consider great experience in lieu of a specific qualification or degree, but it's important to prove to your potential employer that your experience is valuable. Explain why exactly you chose to follow this path instead of, for example, taking a course. Much of the time, a balanced combination of relevant experience and education may prove most desirable to employers. Applying for a job in which you have relevant theoretical knowledge and practical experience demonstrates your ability to understand a prospective role in a more holistic way and gives you an advantage over other applicants.

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