Talent vs Skill: What is The Difference and How Can it Help Your Career?

Talent and skill, although they may appear to be the same thing, are two very different things, especially when applied to the workforce and the job market.

The main difference between the two is how they are acquired and applied in a person’s life. Talent is usually something that someone is naturally good at, while a skill is something that the person has learned over time.


As stated before, talent is something that someone is essentially naturally, from birth, really good at. For example, think of children who are amazing singers who have never taken any lessons; they possess a talent for singing.

Another example is someone who has always been able to do an amazing impression of a celebrity, without needing to do voice training or take improv acting classes. However, talent in the workplace is very different than those kinds of talents. This type of talent is a patterned behavior of thoughts, feelings, and actions that have not been learned. Talent shows the potential of a person, it is the quantification of potential within a human being.

Having a talent in a particular job or industry is more along the lines of being able to read the room, or having the ability to do public speaking without any issues, than having a knack for singing.There are other talents that can be seen as useful to employers such as creativity, adaptation, decision making, communication among others.

These kinds of talents are sought after by employers because they can be very beneficial to organizations, and can help propel the company further. Human Resource “Talent Managers” often search for people who are able to show these as inert talents over skills, since those with talents can be taught more than those who have learned skills.

People who have talents usually have smaller sub-groups of skills that they have acquired through their talent. For example, someone can have a natural talent for learning musical instruments quickly and is skilled at playing the guitar. In this case, the talent is learning a specific thing quickly, while the skill is a specific sub-group of the broader talent.


Skills, unlike talents, quantify the past performance of a person. Skills are very similar to talents, but instead of them being features of a person that have been ingrained into them naturally, they are learned through life, classes, or other manners like books, training, or other.

The skills can be the same as talents, but they have been learned in different ways, which means that the application of the skill is different. For example, someone with a skill that was taught to them in training may not know how to handle things when something happens that the training did not teach them, whereas someone with an inborn talent will go with what their talent/gut tells them to do.

Often times the person with the natural talent will have an easier job of fixing the unknown situation since they do not have to try to figure out when they were taught this situation, they can simply take action.

Talent and Skill in Your Career

Some hiring teams look for people who are able to build off of their talents and expand and fine-tune them into sharper skills, while others simply want to let people with talent run around and do what they feel is best. Depending on what you are applying for, you will want to showcase certain skills and talents. If you are applying for a job with lots of rules and regulations, you may want to highlight your talent for remembering, following, and enforcing rules.

On the other hand, if you are applying for a position where creativity and free-reign are praised more often than rules and obeying, you will want to show off your talent for thinking outside of the box, and the skills you have that help you apply that talent to the position. The best way to showcase both your talents and skills is to work them into a cohesive unit. If you have a broader talent, such as great communication and understanding people, then you will want to show how that will be a skill the company can use.

So you could say that your talent for understanding and communicating with people makes your customer service skills second nature to you, or that you are skilled at group and teamwork. Saying things like “My natural talent for understanding and communicating with people has lead me to learn how to be skilled in group, team, and community work.”

Using both talent and skill while advertising yourself will make hiring teams or talent managers in the organization see that you are a multifaceted worker, and increase your odds of promotion or getting hired. However, make sure you are being truthful. Never say you have a talent or skill you do not have, because it will backfire on you later, and have repercussions.

Taking note of what your talents are that can be expanded through skills and presenting those to possible employers will help them to understand what you are capable of, and how you could fit into their organization.Being honest about all your talents and skills will help, even if they do not seem to apply to the situation, they will show how well rounded you are, which can give you a heads up on other up for hiring or promotion.

If you write songs but are applying for a manager of social media position, that should be included! It shows your creativity, which is vital for social media management. Or if you were the captain in your high school football team, but are applying for a project director position, include it! This will showcase leadership, strategy, and teamwork. You never know what talents or skills you have that will help show why you stand apart from the rest.

Final Thoughts

It is important to be aware of what you are talented and skilled at because it can help maximize your potential in your career.

Actively creating new skills and strengthening or fine-tuning your talents will be beneficial in your life and career, making things easier and will put you in a better place to be hired or promoted, furthering you in your dream career!

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Nick Jones

My name Nick Jones, I am a professional Head-Hunter with over 20 years of experience working all over the world. I specialise in out-of-the-box job search strategies to get your CV directly to the hiring manager, thus skipping any ATS portals or recruiters who think they're important.

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