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7 Essential Skills Hiring Managers Want an Engineer to Have

14 Aug 10:00 by Jamie Silman

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When you’re in the process of applying for a new engineering job, it’s very common for candidates to overlook soft skills in favour of proving their technical abilities.

But, being a great mathematician and having a solid grasp of a particular field of engineering aren’t the only qualities hiring managers are looking for.

Aside from the usual industry skills and qualifications, here’s our list of 7 essential engineering skills hiring managers want an engineer to have.

Communication

A lack of communication can have serious consequences for an engineering project, so it’s important that engineers have mastered this skill.

The challenge engineers face is that they will have to talk to a large number of people during a project; each of whom will have a different level of understanding or involvement in the project.

Communicating clearly with all of these people is crucial to ensuring a project is finished on time, within budget, and to the requirements; making it an essential skill for every engineer to master.

Problem Solving

Solving problems is part and parcel of every engineers’ day to day life – it’s what they’re there to do - so it’s important for engineers to refine their problem-solving skills in order to give themselves the best chance at being hired for their dream position.

If something isn’t working the way it’s supposed to or a project is heading off schedule, it’s down to engineers to take a step back and assess the ways in which they can fix the problems causing the issue quickly and effectively.

During your education, you’re taught general skills that will help you identify and analyse complex problems, but the truth is that experience comes from making mistakes in the real world.

Be sure to learn from your mistakes, and keep practising your problem-solving skills.

Leadership and Management Skills

Being an engineer means you’re responsible for improving processes, reducing costs, and keeping projects on schedule; and you’ll have to lead and manage other people in order to do that.

As a leader, you’ll be responsible for making sure your team are working optimally, assigning a team member to a task that makes the most of their strengths whilst simultaneously ensuring they have enough resources to complete the job properly.

Effectively managing people is a skill in itself, and it’s important for engineers to improve this skill as much as possible.

Handling Pressure

With deadlines constantly looming, and stakeholders keeping on top of costs, an engineer must be able to handle a lot of pressure in order to succeed in their role.

Controversial decisions will need to be defended, mistakes will have to be explained, and increased costs will have to be justified.

Doing all of this requires someone who can keep their cool, and brush off negativity, whilst not losing sight of the project’s deadline.

Natural Curiosity

Being naturally inquisitive is a great skill for engineers to have.

There will always be new software or production techniques to learn, and new challenges to overcome, so the desire to constantly learn is imperative for a successful career in engineering.

Make sure you can demonstrate that you’re always learning by listing courses or qualifications you’ve achieved when applying for a new role.

Attention to Detail

Mistakes can be costly – especially when you’re an engineer!

A small mistake on a calculation, a miscommunication with suppliers, or overlooking a small detail on a set of drawings can have a potentially-profound impact on a project, which can in turn have an impact on the company doing the work; so, it’s incredibly important for hiring managers to know that you’re one of the engineers who checks their work carefully.

Being Organised

Staying organised is an important skill that many engineers don’t emphasise during their application process.

Engineers don’t have to be perfect, but with the number of parts, drawings or miscellaneous pieces of paper engineers have to deal with on a daily basis, hiring managers want to see that there is some sort of process being used to make sure the work is well thought out and clearly organised.

 

As you can see, hiring managers are looking for much more than just good grades and work experiences when they’re hiring a new engineer.

Many engineers will already have these skills, but simply aren’t doing a good enough job of showing this to potential employers.

No one is expected to be perfect, so if you’re not organised, for example, that’s ok! Just be sure to tell the hiring manager what steps you’re taking to try and improve this aspect of your work so they can see that you’re aware of a weakness and you’re working to improve it.

If you’ve got an engineering job interview coming up, take a look at our article 12 Interview Questions Every Engineer Should Prepare Answers For and try to tie your soft skills to your answers to those common questions.

Good luck!

 

If you’re looking for your next engineering role, take a look at our current vacancies here.