What are engineering soft skills?
Engineering soft skills are non-technical skills that help engineering professionals maintain a good interpersonal relationship with their colleagues, superiors, and clients. Engineers have to interact with other professionals in the course of their work, which requires a great deal of communication and collaboration. Possessing soft skills will facilitate better collaboration and ensure that engineers can perform their duties more effectively. Here's a deep dive into engineering soft skills and how you can improve them.
Examples of engineering soft skills
There are many soft skills in demand among employers seeking engineering professionals. The following list includes some of the most common engineering soft skills:
Verbal and non-verbal communication
This is a very important engineering soft skill. Effective communication involves being able to present information in a clear manner, to the understanding of the intended recipient. This is required for both verbal communication in meetings, presentations, training sessions; and in non-verbal form such as emails, memos, strategy documentation, etc.
Stress Management and Tolerance
Engineering can be a high-stress job, especially for engineering managers working on complex projects. Stress tolerance as a skill helps you effectively manage and reduce stress levels for your team. With this skill, you will be able to identify potential triggers and eliminate them. Stress management also involves scheduling regular downtime for your team and encouraging open communication.
Learn more: 4 Ways Great Managers Can Reduce Stress
Public speaking and presentation
Engineers frequently make presentations to their team, clients, upper management, and other stakeholders. Good presentation skills involve being able to speak confidently in public, as well as distilling complex bits of information into smaller digestible points. They also include the ability to hold the attention of an audience and persuade them in a certain direction.
Following from persuasiveness, negotiation is another great skill for engineers to have. A good negotiator is able to get the best outcome and value for all parties. Negotiation involves building a rapport with the other parties involved and establishing trust. Working with contractors, external vendors, and even internal departments on projects will require negotiation skills.
Learn more: 4 Ways To Win Workplace Negotiations
This is the ability to create business strategies and implement them. Effective strategic planning involves being able to consider multiple options and all the possible outcomes, and choosing the best outcome for the organization. Engineers need this soft skill to be able to plan their projects, make efficient use of resources, and achieve the best results.
Time management is important for managing projects and delivering within a deadline. Good time management involves delegating to reduce your workload, tracking your productivity, and reducing micromanagement. In addition, effective time management means setting realistic timelines so that you’re not carrying more than you can bear.
Learn more: 7 Ways To Improve Your Time Management Skills
Creativity and Innovation
At their core, engineers are problem solvers. They employ technology to design products that solve problems for consumers. As such, creativity is a very useful soft skill for engineers. It involves curiosity and the ability to think outside the bounds of what is currently possible. It’s important to remember that most of the tools we use now once existed as mere ideas in the minds of engineers.
Teamwork and people skills
Engineers rarely work in isolation. Collaboration and teamwork are two hallmarks of effective innovation. Teamwork involves being able to communicate effectively, sharing information as needed, and tolerating other view points and attitudes. It also involves taking responsibility without shifting blame and sharing the accolades when everything goes according to plan.
Learn more: Benefits and Examples of Teamwork in the Workplace
Research and analytical skills
A good engineer can conduct effective research. In addition, they can analyze their findings and draw reasonable conclusions from the data. Research is an important engineering soft skill because data gathering is usually the first step in the process of developing a new idea. Engineering teams have to explore what has already been achieved in the field of consideration and collect information from relevant sources.
Organization enables you to create a structure to achieve your goals. It enables you stay focused on multiple tasks. Engineers need organizational skills to write efficient programs, manage large projects, and manage their time effectively.
Technology is constantly changing, with new engineering frameworks being developed at a quickening pace. Engineers need to adapt quickly in order to stay relevant. An adaptable engineer is committed to continuous self development. Developing this skill will also prepare you to deal with clients who constantly change their requirements and new management with different approaches in the workplace.
Ethics may only be considered for professionals who have direct human contact such as healthcare workers, but engineers also need to make ethical considerations in their work. Engineering solutions affect human beings and must be safe to use, sustainable, and beneficial to society in the long run. Is this material harmful to humans? Will my design encourage discrimination against certain groups of people? Having ethics as a soft skill will ensure that you have these considerations at the back of your mind whenever making design decisions.
Dedication and commitment
Dedication is the ability to follow through on anything and this is important for engineers. Dedication is what will enable you put in the extra effort needed to complete a task. It will enable you remain motivated about what you do and keep you going back to work each day.
How to improve engineering soft skills
Improving your soft skills as an engineer is important for staying effective at your job. Here are a few practical tips to help you out:
Learn more: How To Identify and Develop Soft Skills
1. Practice communication
Communication is a key component of many engineering soft skills, so it’s a good idea to practice communication as often as you can. If you’re an engineering manager, take it a step further by encouraging communication within your team. Organize catch-up sessions and encourage everyone to give feedback. This will help you develop the skill and also identify any areas where you fall short.
2. Seek out training opportunities
A lot of engineering soft skills can be taught. Explore training opportunities and take advantage of them when you find any. More and more companies are beginning to organize workshops and seminars through their learning and development or HR departments. Take advantage of these to improve your soft skills. Alternatively, you can explore online courses to develop your presentation, negotiation, or business communication skills.
3. Create a plan for each day
Creating a plan helps you focus on the most important tasks for each day so that you can achieve your goals. With a plan, you can allot time to certain tasks, structure your projects, and create more realistic timelines. This is great technique for improving your time management, communication, and for managing your stress levels.
Engineering soft skills in the workplace
These tips will help you with your engineering soft skills in the workplace:
- Remain committed to the job: Staying committed will help you remember what is important and keep you focused to achieve your goals.
- Practice active listening: It’s not just about hearing what the other person said. Listening actively enables you to focus on what the other person said and understanding them completely. It includes paying attention to their body language as well. This is a great way to build your relationships with others and develop a reputation as a good communicator.
- Be respectful of everyone: No matter their rank or background, every individual deserves respect. Respect fosters tolerance and mutual understanding, which can improve collaboration and communication.
How to highlight engineering soft skills
Having the required soft skills for engineering is not always enough, you also need to be able to show prospective employers that you can use them to achieve excellent results on the job. These tips will show you how.
Engineering soft skills for resume and cover letter
Ensure that your resume is well-written and free of grammatical errors. It’s useful to include a clearly labeled skill section on your resume. Go over the job description carefully and match the skills required to what is on your resume. It’s also important to demonstrate how you used those skills in the experience section of your resume. Cover letters can offer a bit more information about your personality and offer more flexibility for you to describe your skills and expertise. Describe how you have used these skills in previous employment and why they make you the best candidate for the position.
Engineering soft skills for the job interview
An interview is a great opportunity to demonstrate soft skills like communication. Be mindful of your interviewer’s body language and find creative ways to respond to the questions asked — don’t use generic responses. This will help you stand out. Knowing what soft skills are in demand for engineers is a great first step to equipping yourself and preparing to bag the job of your dreams. For more excellent career advice, explore our blog and you’ll find ways to succeed in your profession.