5 Must-Have Soft Skills for Engineers’ Career Success by David Butcher | March !

" #$ % | # Co&&ents | 'rint (echnical acu&en alone is insufficient for engineering career success) *Soft skills+ ,lay an increasingly i&,ortant role in differentiating S(EM ,rofessionals for e&,loy&ent and advance&ent) ren-ith krishnan at .reeDigital'hotos)net ren-ith krishnan at .reeDigital'hotos)net /n the day-to-day 0ork of engineers and technical s,ecialists" soft skills are as i&,ortant as technical skills) (hese skills" or e&otional intelligence" are often not learned in school and enable ,rofessionals to navigate s&oothly and effectively through a 0ide variety of social and ,rofessional situations 0ith a 0ide variety of ,eo,le) Such skills include co&&unication" coo,eration" creativity" leadershi," and organi1ation) 2 &id-#$ # study fro& Millennial Branding sho0ed that soft skills to,,ed the list of &ust-haves for e&,loyers" 0ith 3! ,ercent of the& saying co&&unication skills are essential and 3# ,ercent tea&0ork skills) .ollo0ing are five key soft skills that engineers and other S(EM ,rofessionals should develo, for career success) Soft Skill 4 Co&&unication 5hile s,eaking" 0riting" and listening are everyday actions" &any ,rofessionals underesti&ate the i&,ortance of co&&unication skills) Engineers tend to ,rioriti1e technical skills over co&&unication skills" not reali1ing that they cannot be fully effective in their -obs if they are inade6uate s,eakers" 0riters" and listeners) 7et it is ,articularly in the engineering fields that effective co&&unication skills are crucial to success) /n a recent survey conducted by the 2&erican Society of Mechanical Engineers of both society &e&bers and non&e&bers in engineering-related ,ositions" res,ondents said they believe co&&unication skills 8 such as business 0riting" technical 0riting" ,ublic s,eaking" and ,resentation ,re,aration 8 are *crucial+ for success as engineers 0ork in and a&ong &ore varied grou,s) (he interaction bet0een stakeholders" 0hether it is internal in an organi1ation or e9ternal 0ith ,artners or clients" is fraught 0ith o,,ortunities for &isunderstanding) (hat is 0hy effective co&&unication also involves listening" 0hich is itself an essential soft skill) 5ithout actively listening to custo&ers" clients" or ,ro-ect ,artners" ,roble&-solving beco&es &uch &ore difficult and ti&e-consu&ing) Soft Skill #4 Creativity Creativity is arguably the driving force behind innovation and therefore increasingly gaining recognition as the ne0 ca,ital in uncertain and challenging econo&ic ti&es) /nnovation thrives on breakthrough thinking" ni&bleness" and e&,o0er&ent) :rgani1ations often de,end on big ideas and creative e&,loyees to develo, innovative ,roducts and services) /n the &id-aughts" /EEE S,ectru& noted the fre6uent accusation that engineers are uncreative 8 a &yth that ,ersists today) 7et" as /EEE S,ectru& e9,lained" *every engineer’s core &ission is to try to i&,rove the utility of things" to design ,roducts or ,rocesses that 0ill solve ,roble&s better" faster and chea,er)+ (his

laced 0ith tea& research across nearly all fields) 5hether you call it coo.eo.atents to de&onstrate that tea&s increasingly do&inate solo authors in kno0ledge . Do you sulk and brood 0hen things don’t go your 0ay.tability also &eans a 0illingness to face the une9.loyers look for in e&.tability is by sho0ing they are able to think on their feet" assess .&ission 0ould rarely be achieved if not for engineers’ 0ays of thinking" 0hich often lead to .roduction) (he days of single-inventor innovations have been re.roble& as the technical skills to identify and troubleshoot the source of the .idly resha.tability (here is no shortage of challenges and issues that arise on any given 0orkday) Having the ability to identify solutions to unforeseen .ected) *2re you the first to co&. 5hat if there 0as no leadershi.ro-ect"+ the 2&erican Society for (raining D Develo.rofessionals de&onstrate their ada.lete the .roble&) 2s such" creative thinking is a soft skill that engineers" scientists" and others in the S(EM fields should cultivate in order to beco&e invaluable &e&bers of their organi1ations) Soft Skill %4 2da. .roble&s re6uires being able to &odify and ad-ust accordingly to the environ&ent and situation) (his fle9ibility is one of the soft skills that increasingly &ore e&.rofessionals 8 drafters" .le" 0hen designing a transfor&er for high-voltage trans&ission lines C it takes &ore than one engineer to co&.le fro& different backgrounds is essential) *.a.ortunities that 0ould other0ise re&ain hidden) /n the engineering fields" creativity can be as valuable to solving a .+ Soft Skill 54 <eadershi. a 0ell-thought-out solution 0ithin a given ti&e is a skill that e&.or e9a&.+ 2:< =obs recently asked) */f that’s you" think about ho0 you can be a little less rigid) /t 0ill &ake you a &ore &arketable -ob seeker)+ Soft Skill >4 Collaboration 2 #$$? study fro& @orth0estern Aniversity’s Bellogg School of Manage&ent used al&ost #$ &illion .loyers value greatly) 2t the sa&e ti&e" today’s tech frontier is ra.roble&s" and find solutions) (he ability to develo.otentially interfacing 0ith clients" regulatory agencies" subcontractors" and even .) Here" ada.lained) */t re6uires a tea& of engineers and other .lain if .ro-ect.+ the 2S(D continued) *5hat if they could not share res.le&ent change internally to kee.resent in the .eration" collaboration" or tea&0ork" an engineer’s ability to 0ork 0ith other .loyees) (he 0ay .ro-ect &anagers" and ad&inistrative staff 8 0orking together and .ers over five decades and #) &illion .onsibilities and accountability in 0orking as a tea&.&ent E2S(DF recently e9..ing industries" 0hich &eans that organi1ations often &ust i&.roble&solving o. .ublic advocacy grou. u.s) *5hat 0ould be the likelihood of success if tea& &e&bers could not co&&unicate together.lans change.

rofessional level"+ according to the @ational Society of 'rofessional Engineers E@S'EF) *(hese ca.rofessional .See &ore at4 htt.rofessionals 0ho intend to &ake a difference) */n an engineering conte9t" leadershi. sha.abilities are essential for the .olicy"+ the @S'E continued) *(hese leadershi. ca.abilities 0hich are critical in order to function at a .<eadershi.ublic health" safety and 0elfare)+ .ublic . skills are also i&. and co&&unicate vision for the future and to hel.abilities include the ability to assess risk and take initiative" the 0illingness to &ake decisions in the face of uncertainty" a sense of urgency and the 0ill to deliver on ti&e in the face of constraints or obstacles" resourcefulness and fle9ibility" trust and loyalty in a tea& setting" and the ability to relate to others)+ 5hile &uch of leadershi.rofessional success) *<eadershi.4GG000)tho&asnet)co&G-ournalsGcareerG5-&ust-have-soft-skills-for-engineers-careersuccessGHsthash)H(-%IlSJ)d. or hone certain leadershi. skills or attributes to foster . incor.le is about successfully interacting 0ith the& and convincing the& to follo0) (his &akes leadershi. a key soft skill for S(EM .e .eo.ersonal and ." in and of itself" is not one skill but the blending and integration of a variety of skills) By its very nature" leading . is character-based" engineers can develo.uf .orates a nu&ber of ca. develo.rotection of .ractice of engineering and for the .ortant to allo0 engineers later in their careers to hel.

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