Becoming an engineer has never been an easy career path. Most engineering jobs require a certain level of skill, ability and experience. There’s more to engineering than just technical know-how, though. So what makes the difference between a good engineer and a great one?
Here are 5 traits of an exceptional engineer…
1. Having soft skills
Most people might assume that being the most intellectual, technically-able engineer in the room means you’re the best one. You’re certainly likely to come up with fantastic technological solutions. But if you have don’t have the soft skills to work well as part of a team or communicate with the others your ideas aren’t going to get very far.
Engineering solutions work best when they have factored in the expertise and thoughts of a number of different perspectives. It’s not good if the people around you find you impossible to work with. Being approachable, able to listen, understand, show leadership and clearly communicate your ideas are as, if not more, important that the knowledge you have.
2. Exceeding expectations
The engineering industry is about innovation, new solutions and technological advances. Most companies want growth and greatness, but this growth can only come from the individual engineers they hire. An engineer who is ambitious and determined is more likely to dream big and push the boundaries, aiming for bigger and better advancements, that will in turn, drive the company forward.
There are many talented engineers, but an exceptional one will outperform in their role thanks to this drive. They’ll crave achievement, learn from their – and others’ – mistakes and push themselves to improve with each new project.
3. Looking at the big picture
One of the most valued and important traits of an exceptional engineer, is being able to look beyond the small stuff. The best engineers have big-picture vision. Instead of focusing on immediate needs, it’s important to think about long term goals, the wider impact of decisions and where the industry will be moving to over the next few decades.
Most engineering projects will require a project plan and part of this means thinking about every eventuality. Being able to identify any possible problems that might crop up in the future and being ready to adjust accordingly. If you can think about more than one solution, you’ll be ready with a back-up if your first option fails. Exceptional engineers understand their product and have a vision of its journey from inception to end user, as well as an idea of what trends they need to look out for over the next few years.
The daily responsibility of most engineering jobs is to solve problems. More often than not, the most effective solution to a problem is also the most simple. For most engineers it is second nature to take a project, piece of equipment, code or technology and make this better. As engineering work becomes more complicated, it takes a really skilled engineer to simplify whatever the ‘thing’ is, so that it can effectively understood or applied. The default path for most technological advances is to become more complex over time, unless an engineer is deliberate in their approach to simplifying developments. The more complex something is, the more expensive it is to change, the harder it is to grow and the more risk there is that something will go wrong. So it’s a win-win if you can minimise this risk and make something easier to work with.
5. Being able to understand others
Engineers may work on things that seem technical and not very easy to understand. Although engineering can be all of these things, ultimately the industry doesn’t design ultra-sophisticated technology for itself or machines. It provides solutions for everyday life. Engineers need to ask themselves what people want and need. What will improve functionality and efficiency in the technology we use? What can make daily tasks that bit simpler? A great engineer needs to be able to communicate and understand ordinary needs on an emotional and practical level. Developing plans that are ambitious or complex might be impressive, but this doesn’t mean they will have relevance in day to day life.
Are you looking for your next engineering role? Do you want to find out how you can stand out from the competition? Get in touch with our specialist recruiters today for a chat about your skills and experience.