When someone mentions engineers out of the blue, our minds veer in either of three directions. We either see someone surrounded by machines and parts, wires & tools, we imagine someone in a yellow safety helmet with a blueprint, or we visualize a person furiously typing away code at a computer. While all these images are not exactly inaccurate, they are incomplete.
The truth is, today, no engineer can succeed out of the administrative ecosystem. They will still need to perform work related to their core skills, but that is no longer sufficient. What they also need for success are soft skills.
Why Are Soft Skills So Important for Engineers
If you are thinking that soft skills are a new buzzword that recruiters are suddenly going crazy over, then no. Soft skills have always been the secret ingredient in the formula for success in the cutthroat competitive professional world. Earlier there was a scope to learn them on the job. If you had them already, you were one step ahead of your peers. If you did not have them and did not care to learn them either, you would be stuck in the rut as a low-level engineer forever.
But nowadays, soft skills are no longer an option for engineers; it is a necessity. When you are being interviewed, the HR manager will be especially looking out for people with polished soft skills. The truth is, the outlook of the professional engineering world has changed. It is no longer about grooming a few who show promise. Today, it is about creating leaders in every space. It is about empowering each and every engineer to take responsibility and be an active part of the administration.
This drive for universal mobilization has made soft skills mandatory for every engineer. True, it is still your talent and skill in your core field that will determine how successful your work is. But in this dog-eat-dog world, your work being successful is not enough; you yourself need to succeed. And for that, soft skills cannot be ignored.
What Soft Skills Should An Engineer Cultivate
Notice how we say “cultivate” instead of “have”. This is because not everyone is born with these skills. Some do have a flair for them, but others can easily learn and master them. Here are some soft skills that you should start working towards, whether you are a budding engineer, is new in the job, or have been in the professional world for a long time.
- Leadership – The mistake most people make is thinking leadership simply means being a boss. But leadership skills mean much more, like taking and completing responsibilities, coordinating between people smoothly, staying cool in adversity, as well as creating leaders out of others.
- Teamwork – Collaborative skills and teamwork is essential in a world that works on the global village model. You will have to be able to work with a lot of people in your workplace as easily as with a team on the other side of the world.
- Adaptability – The pandemic has shown just how important adaptability is. No matter how things get, if you are able to find a way to work around it and still deliver equally good results, you will be able to thrive well.
- Learning and Creativity – Curiosity may kill the cat but it will help an engineer survive the competition. Unless you are open to new things, you will not be able to keep up with the times. And if you don’t, you will be left behind. Similarly, being creative and able to think out-of-the-box is important at a time when there are too many products in the world and only the ones that are eye-catching will succeed.
- Communication – The days of the eccentric engineer who locked themself in their room for days without food or sleep and came out with a genius solution when they finally open up are gone. To be a successful engineer, you must know how to communicate with not just your colleagues and bosses but also the client, to get ahead.
- Problem Solving – Problem-solving skills are important everywhere, but engineering is a sector that depends highly on it. Innovation is at the heart of engineering. The better, easier, and more efficient the solution you come up with, the more you will succeed.
- Flexible and Open to Criticism – Being a snowflake will get you nowhere. Engineering is a ruthless field. Rejections, criticisms, and even insults are a dime a dozen. If you are open-minded, flexible, and accept feedback sportingly, you will be able to get further.
- Management – Management skills must be optimum in engineers. Not just people, work, time, and resources, an engineer must know how to effectively manage their own sphere too.
Now we are not telling you to absolutely abandon learning from your books or stop developing your engineering skills; that would be disastrous. But you definitely need to start thinking about these soft skills if you want to advance in your workplace.