It takes years of education to become any type of engineer. A strong understanding of math and science are essential to becoming qualified, and both continue to be important while on the job. However, these aren’t the only skills that engineers need. To attract and work well with clients, you will also need to develop your “soft” skills as well.
Here are six essential skills that make engineers more attractive to clients, help you retain repeat business, and get all-important referrals.
1. Problem solving
Engineering projects are often complex. No matter how closely you may follow the plan, what was developed on paper may not work 100% in the real world. Your ability to solve complicated problems could help turn around a troubled project and bring other benefits to your clients.
While computers and AI have replaced humans in some areas, our ability to problem solve is likely to remain superior. Engineers can apply their hands-on learning gained in real world scenarios to future projects that require novel solutions. This may even help your clients save money while still meeting their needs.
Computers and machines may be faster than humans, but they lack imagination. Creativity can help engineers with complex problem solving, design new systems, and help perform other activities that are part of their job.
Creativity can fuel innovation, which is a big part of engineering. A good engineer should use their imagination to dream up new ideas and then use logic and skill to translate these into reality. Creativity can also help engineers interpret data, build new systems, and apply old ways of doing things in novel ways.
Engineers rarely work alone. Even if you are a one-person small business, you will still need to work with a variety of other occupations, depending on the type of engineering you practice. This may include architects, builders, lab techs, coders, and many others.
Strong teamwork and collaboration skills can help projects go more smoothly. It may lead to fewer mistakes and a better working environment, which in turn could boost productivity, keep the project to deadline, help you stay on budget, and prevent certain liability lawsuits.
4. Emotional intelligence
Controlling your emotions in the workplace is an important component to working as a team. This is one half of practicing emotional intelligence, along with using empathy to better understand others’ feelings.
Emotional intelligence can help engineers navigate tricky professional situations. Managing your emotions puts you in a stronger position to effectively communicate to others want you need from them to get the job done. This skill can also help you grow in your career, helping to develop the people management skills that you may need in the future.
5. Cognitive Flexibility
Engineers may find themselves working in different environments and on a variety of projects. Solutions that worked for one client may not work for another, even if their ultimate goals are similar. For this reason, engineers need to be flexible in how they approach projects.
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt your behavior and thinking in response to the environment. Engineers that get stuck thinking about certain types of projects or people in the same way may be missing out on novel solutions, new technologies, and other ways to develop themselves professionally. Rigid thinking could put you behind your peers and cause your career to plateau.
Reaching agreements that benefit all parties is the essence of negotiation. Engineering may not seem like an occupation that involves a lot of negotiation, but it may turn out to be a bigger part of your career than you realize. Knowing how to do it well can help you build strong professional relationships and craft your ideal work situation.
Engineers may need to negotiate on the job in several ways. If you are entering the workforce as a new engineer, you will need to negotiate your initial salary package and raises each year. Negotiating business contracts is a part of running your own engineering firm or working as a sole proprietor. On a more day-to-day basis, you may need to negotiate project changes with a client or disagreements with a colleague.
Protecting yourself on the job
The soft skills above can help shape your career positively. However, you may still run into problems that can’t be resolved through these skills alone. Engineering Errors and Omissions insurance might be necessary to help protect your business and professional reputation.
An Errors and Omissions insurance policy (also known as E&O insurance or Professional Liability) is an essential policy that protects you and your company in case of a lawsuit due to alleged professional wrongdoing. Many engineers consider this type of insurance to help protect themselves against mistakes, negligence, breaches of contract, and other forms of liability lawsuits. Your policy will cover the legal fees resulting from a claim, including settlements and judgements, so you are not left to pay these out of your own pocket.
BizInsure makes it easy and simple to find engineering Errors and Omissions insurance to meet your business needs. Visit our website to learn more today.