When you were younger, back when the concepts of career and profession were first being introduced, did you ever ask yourself:  “If I had to choose between working on my weaknesses and developing my strengths, which would it be?”  This one is a toughie as we all know the best thing to do is both.  

Youth gives you the luxury of time to dedicate to work on problem areas as well as to build on the talents you already have. But once you become part of the work force, time and opportunity for these become limited.  Each day is a race – time-bound, output-based, stressful, and fast-paced -- and each peer or colleague can become a competitor.  And so you feel the need to grow and keep up.  The good news is, by now, you ought to know more about yourself and the requirements of your profession of choice, and that you have the power to educate and grow yourself.

In any job one will encounter the need to hone both hard and soft skills.  Hard skills or technical skills refer to job-specific expertise and competencies that are valuable, and possibly unique to a company’s industry or business.  Examples may include machine operation, computer programming, financial analysis, medical diagnosis, etc.  Soft skills, also known as people skills, on the other hand, pertain to capabilities needed to go about every day life -- communicating and interacting with people.  These include leadership, problem solving, giving feedback, coaching, etc.  Unlike technical skills, people skills are behavioral and are difficult to quantify.

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(Photos courtesy of sxc.hu)

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