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Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills in the Biotech Industry – Which is More Important?

Important Skills Required In Biotech Industry – Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills in the Biotech Industry
Which is More Important?

Let us make a start through a flawless quote saying,
“Hard skills will get you an interview, but you need soft skills to get the job”

Hard and soft, two words which probably could be described by anyone in terms of the firmness and resistance possessed by any object or a human. But have you ever observed skills can also be categorized as Hard and Soft? In this article, let us decode how one can comprehend the essence of these two types and why it is required.

Hard skills’ is the term used for that extrinsic bunch of skills which one acquires during lifetime through means of education, books, training, diligence, practice or personal experience whereas ‘soft skills’ is the assortment of the intrinsic element of individual’s persona which transform a doer into an executor.

Hard skills will work as an essential attire, but soft skills would embellish your entire personality

Qualities under hard skills

When a swimmer enters the water, he is expected the most to have the swimming skills, which will be considered as an unavoidable hard skill to be possessed by him. That cannot be ignored at any cost.  Evidently hard skills are the necessity to perform any task and thus in any job application or interview, a recruiter will be searching for and expecting you to have all the essential hard skills displayed on your resume. Hard skills are:

  • Job-specific

Depending on the area of work, your realm of hard skills will vary. This will comprise of those abilities that you would acquire through formal education, certification programs, and apprenticeship or training courses.

  • Can be quantified

Remember your recruiter is going to judge your potential on the basis of your pack of hard skills since these can be measured, estimated, or quantified. They often set a criterion to evaluate the candidate’s knowledge in the relevance of the aptitudes which he claims on his resume. Here your degrees and grades can place you in a better position in fetching some challenging or demanding job.

  • Teachable and transferable

A decent fact about hard skills is that they could be taught or communicated to others. So the better you appear trained and skilled, the more are the chances to put you an edge over the other applicants. Recruiters would certainly value your training record and expertise in the area which you are applying for.

  • Manifest the depth of knowledge

How much you can express your hard skills will set a platform for your success, for instance, you would not be hired as a scientific writer if you are unable to exhibit your writing skills and intensity over-interpreting the scientific data. A data scientist in the field of Lifesciences must exhibit his knowledge over the handling of statistical and bioinformatics tools in a viable manner.  

  • Innumerable

Every profession will offer its own arena of hard skills. Computer proficiency, Language skills, scientific skills, management skills, design skills, data analytical skills, marketing skills, mathematical skills, laboratory skills are few to be mentioned here.

Why do these hard skills matter in Biotechnology?

‘Biotechnology’ portrays the fusion of biological aspects and the most advanced technologies used to extract the beneficial outcomes of living agents. It harnesses cellular and biomolecular procedures to grow improvised products in the interest of human beings which may include basic food items, drug and pharmaceutical products, beverages, essential oils, enzymes, etc. It utilizes nature’s toolbox in many ways to improvise the crop production, combat serious miseries in the medical world, lower the environmental pollution, or to offer alternative energy resources to the modern world. Certainly, these recent advances in the field of biotechnology paving the way to meet some of the harshest challenges demand a biotechnologist to be sustainably skilled in its various attributes.  

Master your hard skills in Biotechnology before the job search

Biotechnology is fundamentally a research-based field and its foundation lies in a perfect lab environment and henceforth you cannot afford to miss out on the skills needed in the organized laboratory set up. People who are ignorant about the fundamental necessities are less likely to perform in a professional laboratory establishment. Your recruiters might consist of expert researchers or scientists with mastery in technicalities and thus it will not be possible to bluff those experts. Therefore, before you decide to search for a job in the biotech sector ensure you conquer basic biotechnological skills although they could be stipulated as per the requirement of the job.

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A perfect resume outlining the key techniques is mandatory!

If you are set to step into the world of biotechnology, initiate with an appealing resume exhibiting everything you have done relevant to your job. Apart from the degrees and certificates you hold, volunteer experience, research experience, internship, publications, etc. Everything matters, so mention all and flaunt your mastery over skills.  Hiring people will ask questions based on the techniques mentioned in the CV, so highlight the dedicated skills you are flawless at, along with ensuring that they fit the requirements of the post which you can easily accomplish by doing some research about the recruiting organization.

Basic Biotech skills to get hired – Important Skills Required In Biotech Industry

The appointee will expect you to be acquainted with a few fundamental tools and techniques applied in various fields of biotechnology.

  • Polymerase chain reaction

This is one of the widely used techniques in modern biotechnology which involves amplification of a single copy of DNA, generating thousands to million copies of it. PCR has a wide application domain starting from DNA sequencing up to the diagnosis of deadly diseases. Genetic mapping, DNA cloning, DNA testing in Forensics all may employ variants of PCR like RT- PCR or real-time PCR, thus putting forth every effort to grasp all its characteristics.

  • Gel electrophoresis

The different forms of Gel electrophoresis like Native PAGE or SDS PAGE, are extensively used in molecular biology, genetics, plant biotechnology, biochemistry, or even in other fields of biotechnology to separate, identify and analyze macromolecules, the DNA, RNA or proteins. It can also be utilized to investigate the results of the PCR.

  • Western blotting

It is another popular molecular biology technique that can be extended to other streams like immunogenetics, medical biotechnology to detect and analyze the proteins based on their ability to bind to specific antibodies.

  • DNA cloning

This potential technology involves the development of multiple copies of required genes by targeting them into bacterial plasmids. The plasmids are replicated in bacteria delivering many copies for genes of interest.

The recruiter will be looking for you to have knowledge about the basic procedures associated with this technique beginning from extraction of DNA to the use of the restriction enzymes.

  • ELISA – Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay

It is one of the majorly used immunological assays employed to measure antibodies or other proteins in biological samples. It extends its use over pregnancy kits or even for diagnosis of HIV infection. If you are seeking your career in medical biotechnology, then it is the most demanding hard skill to be fetched on.

Apart from the above mentioned basic skills, others could be specific to one’s domain like those pursuing jobs and placements in plant or agriculture biotechnology need to expertise in plant tissue culture which involves growing plant cells in defined liquid semi-solid or solid growth media to exploit the beneficial features from them. Animal tissue culture must be grasped for those endeavoring in biomedical or animal biotechnology.

Good hand over Modern Microbiological techniques like an inoculation, pour plate, streak plate and dilution calculations will help you to step into the pharma sector, medical testing, or other microbiology labs. 

Your competencies over sensitive instruments like HPLC, mass spectrometer, microscopes, and delivering the same in the most expressive manner can leave a mesmerizing effect over the recruiter. 

If you consider, conquering the hard skills reflecting your technical acquaintance over your domain is adequate to win you all the success then you need to comprehend the process because employers often ask for a permutation of hard skills and soft skills in the candidate. In another way, hard skills could signify your practical skills while soft skills contemplate your overall habits at the workspace making it essential for the recruiter to discover the intensity of soft skills in you.

Try out making a few choices here!

If one student has been provided with the options to choose between two teachers, one with intense intelligence and the other excelling in the ability to deliver and express, the student will surely choose for later whom he can trust or impart what he is looking for, gelled with ease and articulation. Similarly, among two doctors who are equally skilled in diagnosing and counseling treatments if one can assure his patients more fidelity and accessibility, he is likely to be procured more by the patients.

Who will be considered more efficient?

A customer service professional possessing marvelous executive skills will succeed in his domain only if he holds unmatched communication skills or a sales executive holding extensive knowledge about his products will be able to convert that knowledge into sales figures if he is able to convince clients depicting interpersonal skills.

What is common between all those achievers? 

The evident answer would be the abstract skills which may upgrade one’s technical skills to the next level bringing considerable differences into the performances shown in respective domains. Abstract skills retain the potential to convert weaknesses into the most cherished qualities for any individual.

Soft skills, the requisite attributes!

How soft skills will help you to express and prove yourself?

Soft skills, the personality traits are called upon when it comes to showing leadership, managing time, confronting the hard situations, or communicating with other employees at work. These are the personal traits that provide shape to a person’s way of performing independently as well as under the influence of others. Soft skills are:

  • Inbuilt

Soft skills are either natural or blossom during one’s lifetime enabling a person to learn and evolve while doing his job. Thus, some employers prefer the candidates possessing a stronger set of soft skills over hard skills.

  • Qualitative and not quantitative

We really cannot assess an individual’s wisdom, courage, confidence, or interpersonal skills, they just show their charisma adhered to the efficiency shown by the employee at his work.

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Important Soft Skills Required In Biotech Industry

  • Communication Skills

Almost every job profile requires employees to possess excellent communication skills to express them and their ideas in a concise, unambiguous, and captivating manner.

“Of all the life skills available to us, communication is perhaps the most empowering.”

Biotechnology is all about developing pioneering ideas and bringing new research and nevertheless, if you are incompetent to spread the essence of those innovative thoughts to others, your work may go unnoticed and worthless. Whether it is about conveying information to your employer or shaping it into research papers the art of communication is the basic but the foremost sought attribute for a candidate stepping into the biotechnology world.

  • Ability to show Teamwork

In the most professional lab environment or in any company’ s grounds you will be working with, the vulnerability to show teamwork is one of the most vital competencies and lacking it many professionals tend to fail in their career.

Interviewers will always seek for you to possess teamwork skills, to know whether you will be able to pull up and get along with fellow employees in the context of the organization’s welfare. Empathy and listening skills are highly recommended to demonstrate the attribute of working amicably with others.

  • Problem-solving approach

The aptitude of assessing the problem even in the most troublesome situation, focusing on finding an accurate and positive solution would be another desirable skill looked on by the employer. Be ready to confront some questions for the propensity you will show when exposed to some problematic situations. Whether it is a research lab or an academic institution, company, or any production industry, challenges are inevitable and thus a robust mindset with a solution approach becomes mandatory.  

  • Flexible and adaptable to changes

Being working in the lab or some other biotech industry you will be expected to retain responsibilities during odd hours or days, so be prepared to be judged by the employer for your flexibility.

  • Leadership

Anyone who is making headway to managerial positions in the companies or team leader in the labs must be able to show their effectiveness by their authoritative skills.

Someone has rightly quoted Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”. Thus who can perpetuate the leadership in an accountable way, have a tremendous tendency to excel not only in career but also in life.  

Other important soft skills required in Biotech industry include confidence to deliver seminars, ability to present your work upfront the reviewing committee, reflecting the maximal creativity out of you, delivering the productive work, subjecting to deadlines, maximum utilization of the economic resources, abiding by the organization’ rules and regulations, showing honesty to your work, these soft skills perhaps cannot be taught in some Biotechnology college or institution but they are crucial and should be displayed while giving interviews to convince the interviewer that you will prove an asset to his company or organization.

Conclusively, whereas hard skills are associated with technical knowledge, soft skills hover about personality traits such as communication or time management, creativity or empathy, leadership, or teamwork. An individual must possess both types of skills to successfully enter, survive, evolve, and succeed in the Biotech Industry. An employer will review a candidate based on the balance of both types of skills, reflected by his resume and from his body language.

An adequate biotechnologist should have a good command over the hard skills but an ideal biotechnologist must sparkle with the rays twinkling out from his soft skills convincing the employer about his being the most appropriate candidate for any position and letting the recruiter be prideful over welcoming the candidate to his organization.

About The Author
Dr. Nidhi Hukkuis a senior and experienced faculty at BioTecNika. She has a keen interest in keeping herself motivated to learn new and more. The above article is one such example of her deep knowledge of trending innovations in life science. She has expertise in Biotechnology and Microbiology and completed her Ph.D. in Biotechnology. Dr. Nidhi has also been awarded at several workshops and conferences and has publications in reputed international journals.

Editor’s Note: Important Skills Required In Biotech Industry, Hard Skills and Soft Skills, Important Skills Required In Biotech Industry