Why is it worth working on your “soft skills?”

Improving your “Soft skills” as an engineer is important for all aspects of the job. Perhaps you are wondering what a soft skill is and more importantly if you have one or many. Soft skills are personality traits and interpersonal skills that can directly affect your relationship with other people. Thankfully these skills are often ones that can easily be identified and strengthened by yourself. Although the skills you are trained in are important and valuable to you and your employer, you should consider advancing your soft skills. These skills, are not necessarily something to be learnt through a Sunday afternoon session with google. Soft skills are easy to spot in people around you. They are likely to be the person that can chat to people easily and can tell you the name of other employers and their title in their departments. Or maybe you have a friend who is your go-to person for top advice. These types of individuals have great soft skills. They may not be the smartest or most qualified person in the room but they are confident communicating with people and others feel comfortable around them. It’s likely to be just easy to spot someone with a lack of soft skills.

Communication 

Having solid communication skills is essential in the engineering and manufacturing field. Whilst having technical knowledge is critical, the ability to communicate ideas, present projects and report to others is just as important. Engineers are often required to communicate with people outside of the engineering environment, and being able to do so in a clear and effective way is a skill in itself. Communication includes listening as well as successfully talking to others. Accepting feedback and acting on it without taking offence is part of this valuable skill.  Listening to colleagues is a requirement of any worker in all sectors, whether technically specific or picking up when a colleague is in need of help or suggestions, can improve your communicative skill set.

Problem Solving and Creativity

Problem solving is the process of recognizing a difficulty or complication, identifying possible solutions, and then implementing one. The hardest part of problem solving is often determining what the actual problem is. It is up to engineers to determine what they want out of a specific situation and the resources they need to achieve it. As the world grows, new problems will become and therefore require new perspectives and innovative approaches for effective solution. A dictionary definition of creativity shows it as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretation, etc. Synonyms; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.” An engineer can see something in a relationship that others overlooked and will advance the engineering process.

Leaderships and Teamwork

Leadership alone is not a skill, but more the blending of a number of skills. Leaderships is about successfully interacting with others and convincing them to follow. Every team needs someone to set the direction and co-ordinate progress. With increasing number of senior engineers retiring, the new generation of engineers will be relied on by employers to step up and take charge or projects and teams. A leader must understand time management, attention to detail, empathy and two-way communication of ideas and concerns. Engineers rarely work alone, so therefore need to know how to work with others. Whether this be collaborating with other engineers, designers or individuals from outside their unit, it is important to work with others to bring together a project. To do so successfully, would require an engineer to apply appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication to enable others to trust and rely on you. Teamwork also means supporting others in what they do so that the whole team is kept positive and completion of the project is rewarding for all.

When it comes to your soft skills and recognising what needs to be worked on, don’t underestimate how important these can be to a prospective employer. Often just as important as your technical abilities, an employer will be looking for clear evidence of soft skills throughout an interview. Rather than listing these, provide details of how you outlined these in a specific scenario.

If you are looking or your next role in the engineering and manufacturing sector, contact us today to discuss.