Strong communication skills, the ability to speak in plain English, building positive relationships with stakeholders, and showing inspiring leadership qualities – typically called “soft skills” – are becoming increasingly essential for engineering and manufacturing professionals.
Did you think your technical abilities and sector experience were all that counted? Then it’s time to shift your career priorities and values, because soft skills such as communication skills are in incredibly high demand in the current competitive job market.
Soft skills are all those personal attributes that sit outside of your professional qualifications and work experience. They refer to how you interact, lead and communicate with other people, and they’re an essential foundation for any successful career.
Here are 4 ideas you could use in your next interview, drawing on scenarios from former roles, where you can demonstrate your soft skills at work:
1. Good communication skills:
Strong communication skills are essential in the engineering and manufacturing field, as you may often need to explain technical information to a non-technical or “lay” audience. Technical knowledge is critical, but the ability to communicate it accurately and concisely to an uninitiated audience is just as important these days.
2. Strong leadership:
For real career progression, individuals in the engineering and manufacturing sector will typically need to display management potential. This may involve managing teams, individuals, projects or entire organisations. The ability to truly inspire and instill confidence is at the heart of all good leadership. Some people have natural leadership abilities, but good management skills can be sharpened with the right training and development.
3. Lateral thinking:
Whatever your particular job is, lateral thinking and problem-solving skills are always beneficial. Organisations will always appreciate someone who can keep a cool head in a crisis and find innovative, creative solutions to complex business issues.
4. Influencing skills:
The ability to negotiate with people at all levels of the business, forge productive relationships, and persuasively present ideas and opinions are important attributes. Confident influencers and decision-makers are always in demand.
When it comes to your soft skills, don't underestimate how important these are to a prospective employer. Although a strong CV, track record and technical expertise may get you to the interview stage, they may not always get you the job.
At interview, an employer will be looking for strong, clear evidence of your soft skills such as your communication skills. How you present yourself in the actual interview will be telling, but you might also be asked to provide examples of your soft skills in action in some of your roles. Try to outline a number of scenarios where you displayed strong soft skills and how they positively influenced business performance or stakeholder relationships. For instance, did you effectively lead your team through a difficult period or implement a new process that solved an ongoing “pain point” in the business?
So if you’re considering a move upwards in your organisation, or simply to a new engineering and manufacturing job, always remember to promote a good, healthy mix of technical ability and soft skills like leadership qualities and communication skills to help you stand out from the crowd.