Completing your engineering degree was just part of the journey to achieving your dream of becoming an engineer. To fulfill your dream, you must convince your hiring manager that you’re the perfect fit for their company. Your hard technical skills might charm them and show them you have experience and the required knowledge. Still, they won’t hire you until your soft skills impress them.
Soft skills show that you would be able to work and interact with the team, build a healthy work environment and contribute to the company’s values and interests. HR managers now seek engineers with soft skills, character traits, and interpersonal skills. If you are on your way to applying for an engineering opening, make sure you have the following soft skills before adding them to your resume:
1. Communication Skills
Engineers often collaborate and work in groups where project tasks are divided. They must let their team members know about their recent developments and findings. If an engineer fails to communicate effectively, the remaining team will struggle to comprehend their work. Valuable time and energy will be wasted deciphering their reports, and the team will fail to reach its full potential.
You can ensure your workplace is productive by using clear, concise, methodological written and verbal communication. It is because communication skills ensure your ideas and efforts are transferred in an easy-to-digest way. However, this is just a part of the answer to the question why are communication skills important for engineers?
Engineers often have to interact with the clients directly too. The clients’ demands, time, and budget constraints are always discussed directly. Engineers should be great listeners and comprehend what their clients and team members expect. Suppose the engineers lack listening skills or assume instead of properly inquiring about details. In that case, they will likely build a project that would fail to meet the client’s criteria. Hence, it is critical for engineers to understand that communication is not just about transmitting knowledge; it is a two-way process that requires receiving information too.
2. Attention to Detail
Whether you are a civil engineer working on a gigantic bridge or a biomedical engineer making an MRI machine, your end project will have a significant role in people’s lives. People would use your built highway to commute, or the doctors will use your MRI machine for quick diagnosis of diseases. Because of the importance of your devices and their widespread use, it is crucial to ensure they are accurate, precise, and reliable. It is essential to make sure your calculations and design are correct. If you make a mistake or ignore a small yet vital piece of information, the whole project might fall apart. Doctors might misdiagnose patients with the wrong MRI image, or lives might be lost when the bridge collapses. Hence, engineers need to pay attention to detail; each part of the plan and each point communicated by the leadership is to be considered, evaluated, and delivered.
3. Leadership and Management Skills
When engineers are working in groups, leadership skills are essential. This leadership is a form of a bridge of information exchange with the higher-ups. The leading engineer takes information from the clients, understands and negotiates the project specifications, and reports the team’s accomplishments. An engineer with solid management skills can divide the project timeline into smaller goals and make the workflow more efficient.
Although engineering leadership styles can vary, the assigned leader is responsible for determining each member’s strength, ability, and skills and using that knowledge to distribute tasks and responsibilities. While they maximize and utilize the human resources at hand, they have to motivate their teammates and keep a check on their work. Your HR manager would prefer having a new member onboard who can guide and inspire everyone, helping them make the best of their abilities.
Leadership skills include conflict resolution skills. When engineers, like other people, work in groups, friction and dissension can exist. A good leader would diffuse the situation and restore a healthy work environment. Effective leadership could even prevent conflict by ensuring more respective and clear communication. The more cohesive the team is, the better the collaboration will be. This way, the leadership skills contribute to managing the project effectively, ensuring the deadlines are not neglected amidst conflict.
4. Problem-Solving Skills
When companies hire engineers, they expect them to accept the challenges and apply their knowledge to solve the issues. Every task is a puzzle the engineers are meant to solve; the vital part is to be methodological.
The key step to the engineering problem-solving process is to identify the problem. The problem could be the gap between desired conditions and the existing state; sometimes, it can be an error in the system’s actualization or accuracy. Analyzing to list and communicate the possible causes of the issues gives a lead that can be used for the next step.
Taking each probable cause, engineers should wear their thinking caps and think of possible solutions. This portion allows all the creative juices to flow and develop a comprehensive plan. Sound problem-solving engineers consider all possible solutions when designing a new action plan. After that, if their action leads to the desired results, great. Else, they repeat the whole process with a new hypothesis.
If an engineer lacks problem-solving skills, they will not be able to connect the dots and apply their technical knowledge in the right place at the right time. Only a good engineer will be a good problem-solver and can handle and solve any issue that arises in developing their company’s projects.
In a Nutshell
In the last decade, technical skills were enough to get hired, but soft skills are in demand now.
Hiring managers now look for candidates with strong communication skills. Future teams can reach their full potential when the members can efficiently transfer their ideas and report to each other. With significant engineering projects being team-based, candidates with leadership skills are preferred.
Companies also want engineers who can pay attention to detail, ensuring the client criteria are met and the project accuracy is never compromised. And lastly, by demonstrating strong problem-solving skills, you can convince the HR manager that you are an exceptional engineer and a valuable team member.