Hard and Soft Skills: A MS Career Lesson


Title of Lesson: What is a hard skill versus a soft skill? Which soft skills do employers seek in the employees they hire?

Course Name: Career Awareness

Grade Level: 8

Author’s Name: Kelly Snyder

School District: Cornwall-Lebanon School District

PA Academic Standards for Career Education and Work
13.2. Career Acquisition (Getting a Job)
13.2.8.E: Explain, in the career acquisition process, the importance of the essential workplace skills/knowledge.
13.3.8.A: Determine attitudes and work habits that support career retention and advancement.
Learning Objectives
  • Students will learn the difference between hard skills and soft skills.
  • Students will be able to give examples of hard skills and soft skills.
  • Students will determine which soft skills they need to improve.
  • Students will think of ways that they can improve their soft skills.
Conceptual Background
Teachers should know the difference between hard and soft skills.  They should know which soft skills employers seek in the employees they want to hire. Teachers should be able to give examples of the soft skills and how they are used in the workforce.
Instructional Procedure
Scavenger Hunt
Students will complete the scavenger hunt worksheet using online resources to learn what soft skills and hard skills are.  They will also learn about different examples of both skills.  Students will then think of soft skills they need to improve and explain how they can improve them.
15 Minutes
Read (as a class) article about soft skills. Teacher will interject to give different examples of the soft skills mentioned and how they can apply in the workforce. Students will put check marks next to the soft skills that they think they need to improve and stars next to the ones they think they have already mastered.
10-15 Minutes
Cup Activity
  • Students will work in teams (3-4 students per group) to make a pyramid with 6 cups.  The students may only use the rubber band and strings (4 strings tied to a rubber band to move the cups).
  • Teacher will say go.  All teams will start making their pyramids.  When a group finishes building their pyramid, they will tell the teacher that they have their pyramid.  
  • When the teacher has seen the pyramid, the teacher will tell the team to take the pyramid down.  The students will then need to put the cups in the original stack (they may only use the rubber band/string device to move the cups).  When the students have their cups back in their original stack, they will tell the teacher they are finished.  
  • The teacher will report how long it took the team to create the pyramid and then put the cups back in their stack.  The teacher will keep track of the fastest time for each period.  
  • If a cup falls to the ground, the students may pick the cup up and place it on the table.  The students must place the cup on the table how it was on the floor (cup landed on a side-the cup must be placed on the table on a side).
  • Discuss which soft skills were used during the activity. (critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and patience)
10 Minutes
Time Management Activity
  • Students will be in groups for this activity.  They will be given a list of tasks to complete, and they will have 8 minutes to complete them (it will take longer than 8 minutes to complete everything).  Each task will earn them a certain amount of points.  They must get as many points as possible.  After the activity, discuss: how they made their decisions, which group dynamics came into play, how did they determine the value of each task. Which soft skills were used? (negotiation, critical thinking, communication, problem solving, time management)
15 Minutes
Hard Skills versus Soft Skills Ticket Out 10-15 Minutes
Formative Assessment
Students will complete the Hard Skills versus Soft Skills Ticket Out
Materials Needed
Loretto, P. (2017, December 1). The Top 12 Soft Skills Employers Seek
Mulvahill, E. (2018). 9 Awesome Classroom Activities That Teach Job Readiness
     Skills. In The Balance Careers (pp. 1-11).

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