Soft skills, top 5 essential skills for an engineer

Being an engineer is above all solving complex technical problems thanks to scientific skills. However, other skills called soft skills are taken into account and weigh more and more for companies. Focus on the most requested.

Soft skills: definition

We prefer to warn you: no one has the same one. To avoid confusion, we have tried to make it as simple as possible: a soft skill is a transversal behavioral skill.

Behavioral because a soft skill is expressed through your way of being, whether it is your ability to convince or to listen. Be careful, however, not to confuse soft skills and personality traits: the former are acquired with practice while the latter are rather innate.

Transversal because soft skills are not linked to a particular job or technical context, unlike hard skills.

Soft skills: translation

Let’s start with an analogy with hardware and software. Hardware refers to computer hardware (impalpable) while software refers to software (tangible).

On this basis, we could easily have translated hard skills and soft skills into technical (measurable) and non-technical (more abstract) skills. But no, we had to literally translate 😅

According to a survey carried out by The Engineer magazine with Frazernash Consultancy, here are the 5 essential soft skills for an engineer.

Soft skill #1: communication (46%) 📢

An engineer must succeed in popularizing and making his ideas accessible to collaborators who do not necessarily have a technical background.

“Engineers must also be able to interact with their employer and clients to help them make informed decisions and choices. To achieve this, he must in particular be able to present a project, explain what he does, clearly outline the issues and potential challenges, and even participate in social debates,” explains Stéphane Bilodeau, Vice-President of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Soft skill #2: creative problem solving (27%) 💡

It is an intellectual exercise that allows you to break down a problem to understand it and implement a solution off the beaten track. This method is particularly effective in simplifying decision-making and accelerating good team ideas.

Soft skill #3: the ability to collaborate (16%) 🤝🏿

An engineer must be able to bring together the ideas of the teams towards the same goal. As seen previously, he must be able to work in harmony with all the stakeholders of a project: from the sponsor to the social actors.

“The ability to collaborate with a team is a crucial skill for an engineer since most projects involve multidisciplinary functions and involve the collaboration of many actors” according to Ananth Sangli who participated in the survey.

Soft skill #4: Business acumen (6%) 💰

Because he is often the intermediary between the client and the internal departments of his company, we must be able to count on his commercial skills. In addition to his technical background, his understanding of business and strategic issues can be decisive in the success of a project.

Soft skill #5: Project management (5%) 👌

During his career, an engineer will have to collaborate on large-scale projects with multidisciplinary teams. He must therefore be able to analyze needs and know the methods and tools necessary to manage a project: management of risks, costs and deadlines, deliverables, availability of resources, etc.

Soft skills are therefore transversal behavioral skills learned through practice or training. An engineer will benefit from developing his skills related to the proper conduct of a project such as communication, collaboration or even creative problem solving. And why not stand out with his mad skills? The what?! We explain everything to you in this article.

Text adapted from the article: Last week’s poll: what non-technical skills are most important for a successful engineering career published by The Engineer