Management & Mindset

How to Define & Manage Technical Skills in Your Company

Developing, assessing, and managing skills in any organization is critical. They’re an important business asset, just like your customer portfolio or the cash in your accounts. 

Skills churn just like customers, and can dry up faster than funding. So tracking skills and training team members should be a top priority. And this often starts with technical skills. 

Technical skills are often the most measurable and tangible competencies required, and they’re the most obvious when lacking. But when well defined, they can be the most straightforward to hire for or build from within.

This article explains what technical skills are — with examples — and looks at why it’s so important to define and track them in your organization.


Guarantee a successful move to skills-based L&D

What are technical skills? 

Technical skills, also called “know-how” or “hard skills,” are the specialized competencies and knowledge that let individuals perform their roles. Already acquired or to be learned, they are an integral part of measuring performance and defining talent in a company. 

While more pronounced and specific in some fields, every role includes a mix of technical and soft skills. Being able to measure these and test for them during hiring is critical. 

Equally, many technical skills will be proprietary, and must be learned once in a specific role. You must be able to identify these and provide regular, high-level training.

Broadly speaking, technical skills can include: 

  • Language proficiencies. Team members need to be able to communicate with their peers, customers, and prospects. But this also includes programming languages for engineers, legal and regulatory terminology, accounting and finance vocabulary, and all of the internal and industry names for features, products, and processes.
  • Methods, procedures and systems. Most professions have some form of accepted best practices and processes. Project managers may need to show expertise with Scrum or Agile methodologies, and most accountants need GAAP. 
  • Certifications. Some roles require adherence to a professional body, including lawyers, chartered accountants, and doctors. Others need specific certifications, like a forklift or driver’s license.
  • Task execution. This is probably the first thing we think of as defining a technical skill: can the person complete a given task? That might mean debugging a software issue, making a cold call, or preparing an omelet. 

Technical (hard) vs soft skills

Technical skills are most often presented in contrast with soft skills. Soft skills are the general traits or characteristics a person displays that make them more or less suited to specific roles or tasks. Examples often include leadership, communication, and empathy. 

Both hard and soft skills can be learned and trained. But it’s seen as easier to measure and assess technical skills objectively, and to hire people on this basis.

Why define technical skills in your organization?

Knowing how to determine the technical skills suited to the different professions in your company is crucial in order to then be able to evaluate them against a performance grid.

Skills assessments are essential to:

  • Ensure you have the best technical skills in house, and upskill or reskill team members as and when necessary. 
  • Maintain company performance and productivity and let everyone clearly see the role they play in the organization.
  • Give employees oversight of the skills they’ve acquired and encourage them to want to train and grow further.
  • Design logical career paths, and ensure each employee knows what’s required to move forward.
  • Avoid talent drain thanks to an engaged, highly skilled workforce.

To achieve the above, you need to be able to build an effective skills map highlighting the range of skills your company needs. This must include the technical skills specific to each role, and broader skills applicable to all roles at differing levels of attainment. 

Build a technical skills profile by business function by precisely identifying the role of the function and the skills attached to it.

This work will necessarily require time and human investment. And it needs to be updated regularly, particularly as technology and the demands of each role evolve.

Technical skills examples

The specific technical skills required to perform in a certain role obviously depend highly on the role. And team members need to implement this knowledge in a particular context and use a certain number of tools depending on the profession.

Here are some examples of technical skills for key roles in many companies. 

Software engineers, developers, or programmers

Key technical skills for software engineers and information technology professionals include: 

  • Programming languages (JavaScript, Java, HTML, CSS, Swift, Python)
  • Operating systems (mobile platforms, cloud computing, desktop software)
  • Technical writing
  • Project management
  • Data structure and analysis (SQL, big data)
  • Bug tracking
  • AI and machine learning
  • Cybersecurity
  • Computer science

All of the above will then depend on the role itself, and the languages and systems used in the company. An iOS developer clearly needs an expert degree of proficiency in the iOS operating system, but may also benefit from a base level understanding of Android and other mobile phone systems. 

And under programming languages, they will likely need to know Swift and potentially Objective-C, which isn’t the case for most desktop application developers. 


Because salespeople are typically seen as relational experts, we might think that most of their required skills are soft. But there are some key technical skills that must be learned either through experience or dedicated sales enablement training

Technical sales skills include: 

  • Product knowledge
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software (Salesforce, Pipedrive, Close)
  • Negotiation (price, terms, features)
  • Social selling (social media tools and strategy)
  • Cold calls and emails
  • Computer skills and tools (Excel, Microsoft Office suite, email software)

Product knowledge is clearly a top priority, and is almost entirely a proprietary skill. And while there may be softer, relational aspects to negotiation and cold calls, there are technical steps and strategy to master as well. 

Digital marketing

Many marketers are hired for relevant technical skills in key areas like paid social advertising or email marketing. On the other hand, the popular notion of the “t-shaped marketer” suggests it’s best to find broadly competent team members who can contribute across the board. 

Whether you’re hiring for technical marketing skills or developing them in house, here are some to watch for: 

  • CRM knowledge (HubSpot, Pardot, Zoho)
  • Paid advertising (Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Meta)
  • Email marketing (optimization, automation)
  • Website optimization (page speed, structure, crawlability)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) (content structure, technical improvements)
  • Marketing strategy (product, content, demand generation)
  • Social media management (social media platforms, scheduling tools)
  • Budget and resource management
  • Data analysis
  • Graphic design (Photoshop, Figma, Canva)

There are plenty more, of course, but these show up on the majority of marketing job descriptions.


Similar to sales, managers need strong relationship skills to succeed. These aren’t necessarily hard skills.

But some of the technical skills to look for in good managers include: 

  • Project management and planning (spreadsheets, templates)
  • Budget and resource management
  • Communication (written, oral)
  • Critical analysis (data analytics, visualization)
  • Management and HR tools (HRIS, project tracking)
  • Coaching and training

Again, these are factors you can specifically list in a job description and test for in interviews. And some will be company-specific, learned in this precise role. 

And for hiring managers specifically, we can add specific software applications for recruiters, database management, and tools that help survey the job market.

How to keep technical skills up to date

As detailed in our Global State of Upskilling and Reskilling Report, skills gaps are a real issue in organizations. And there are four chief reasons why these gaps emerge: 

  • Loss of internal skills and knowledge, as longer-serving employees move on or retire
  • Higher turnover of new generations, further exacerbating the previous point
  • Shorter shelf-life of skills, particularly due to the rate of technological change
  • In-demand skills always outstrip supply

Keeping technical skills up to date is crucial for a business. You must identify skills gaps as early and often as possible. 

But many companies rely with scattered frameworks and outdated skills maps to keep track. And even where they can identify gaps, closing them is another story. 

In our view, there are five crucial steps to identify and update all skills, including technical ones: 

  • Map the overall skills in your organization
  • Identify the skills gaps at the employee level
  • Partner with subject-matter experts (SMEs) to develop missing content
  • Use AI-powered recommendations to prescribe content
  • Measure your impact

We’ll leave it there, as we’ve gone into each of these points in detail previously–read more on upskilling and reskilling talent.

Manage and train with Skills by 360Learning

At 360Learning, we bring training strategy and skills management together. Our tools help you easily identify and close the skills gaps that are holding back company growth. Every individual can track their progress against their own goals, and you can also monitor overall performance at the company level. 

For L&D professionals, this helps prove your impact: you have the data necessary to support strategy, obtain the budgets you need, and receive recognition from management.

Most importantly, our built-in AI tools let you do more, faster. Whether you’re identifying skills gaps, building reports, or designing whole new courses and assessments, it’s never been this efficient or effective. 

We believe that skills-based learning is the best way for L&D and their organizations to succeed in the face of constant change. Learn more about how Skills by 360Learning can help you make this transition successfully.

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