Job hunting often feels like an arduous task, especially in the engineering field. You know you’re a highly qualified engineering graduate. You might have won several engineering competitions and have completed a few internships. But many job applicants may be unsure of what top-level engineering firms actually look for in candidates
Technical skills are obviously important, but successful engineers also need a variety of soft skills. Here are five skills that engineering employers typically look for when hiring—and how you can sharpen those skills:
- Technical Skills
Technical skills and engineering knowledge relevant to the position are at the top of the list. Potential employers want to know that you have the educational background and experience needed to perform the job. Technical skills demonstrate that you can identify and solve technical problems. Employers also want to be sure that candidates are willing to pursue additional training, continuing education, career development and other professional growth and learning pursuits.
If you’re still in school, consider taking classes that directly relate to the job you want. This will help you gain relevant experience. Also, participate in training workshops offered by companies, colleges or other industry partners. You can also attend industry conferences and trade shows to gain additional technical training.
Communication is an essential skill in just about every facet of life. Engineers need to be able to handle many types of communication—technical, nontechnical, written, verbal, online and in person. Good communication skills are essential for brainstorming, project meetings, product design and problem solving. Most jobs require that engineers interact with clients and colleagues at all levels of the organization and be able to prepare documents and instructions that are clear, detailed and accurate.
Successful engineers must be able to coordinate, prioritize and schedule multiple people, tasks, resources and projects in order to meet deadlines and achieve goals. Those who plan to advance in the company and their careers will be required to educate or train other employees or manage staff.
Some ways to hone communication skills include joining a student organization, leading classroom activities, volunteering to lead projects, pursuing internships and attending industry networking events.
- Interpersonal Skills
Most engineering jobs are collaborative in nature, so working as part of a team is essential. Developing interpersonal skills will make you an effective team or group leader, allowing you to build and maintain strong relationships with coworkers and clients. It can also help with conflict resolution. These leadership skills will help you advance your career.
The best way to develop interpersonal skills is to get involved with groups or organizations. Experience and practice will help you develop them.
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Critical thinking and problem solving are must-have skills for engineers. Many engineering projects come with risk, and sometimes things get off schedule. When issues arise, the ability to assess and analyze the problem and quickly come up with solutions is vital. Critical thinking and problem solving are about organizing thoughts and presenting a well-reasoned argument.
Job shadowing, internships or part-time jobs help develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. There are also many professional development workshops and programs that offer training in conflict resolution, mediation and problem solving.
- Organizational Skills
Engineering firms look for a high level of organizational skills in their candidates. Most engineering is projected based, and engineers often juggle multiple projects and tasks at a time. The ability to prioritize, manage time effectively and meet deadlines are much-needed skills.
Taking professional development classes in organization can help candidates with these skills. Learning by example and talking to senior engineers can also help.
If you’re interested in an engineering career, T&D Services may be the perfect spot for you. We look for smart, hardworking candidates and always support professional development. Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our company.
Harry R. Barnes Jr.
Managing Member/Chief Executive Officer, T&D Services