As an Automotive Engineer, you will have spent years honing your mathematical and technological skills at university and on the job.
And while this can help achieve a certain level of success, if you’re looking to enter a management role you’ll need to start prioritising soft skills as well.
You probably use analytical thinking, pay attention to detail and solve problems daily. But how are your communication, collaboration and coaching skills?
Even entry-level Engineers need to take note, with research showing employers expect graduates to demonstrate reliability, ability to work in teams, responsibility, self-motivation and positive attitude.
In this blog, we run through six essential soft skills Automotive Engineers need to take their careers to the next level, regardless of whether you’re a graduate or seasoned professional.
Problem-solving and critical thinking are probably the first soft skills that come to mind for Automotive Engineers. And that’s no surprise, considering they are core functions of the job and are applied on a daily basis.
However, it’s important to note that Engineers may need to learn how to develop critical thinking skills without bias or emotion. The key is to ensure you obtain all the information about the task or problem in order to solve it. This may require working with people in other teams to understand the big picture, before weighing up potential solutions and determining the most appropriate and ethical choice.
The skill of communication can range from everyday interactions and conversations to formal presentations and reports. Collating and interpreting data and information is key to all engineering jobs. However, so is the act of presenting this information in a clear and easy-to-understand way to a broad range of stakeholders coming from both technical and non-technical backgrounds.
Automotive Engineers need to develop their skills across the full communication spectrum. This covers everything from actively listening to colleagues and collaborators to public speaking and pitching ideas and concepts in a persuasive way. As with many other skills, practice makes perfect so be proactive and find opportunities to engage with others, volunteer for presentations and always consider your audience when communicating with them.
Automotive Engineering is an interdisciplinary field, requiring people to work together seamlessly for the good of the project or task. Authentic collaboration involves a combination of communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and negotiation skills.
Creating a diverse and skilled project team who work well together can result in sharing different perspectives, expertise and experience. Ongoing feedback and input into a design from various viewpoints can help identify potential problems or enhance overall functionality.
Improving your ability to collaborate can come down to keeping an open mind, actively listening to different ideas and perspectives, and analysing suggestions in a non-biased way.
Whether you’ve been placed at the head of a project or looking to move up the ladder to a management position permanently, you’ll need to build your leadership skills. Taking ownership and responsibility for an outcome or a team starts with communicating your expectations and holding people to account.
This goes back to clear communication skills, both verbal and written, so everyone knows what’s expected of them. Also, fostering a culture of open communication can encourage team members to come to you early when facing challenges. Try to be patient, demonstrate empathy and use feedback constructively.
Coaching and mentoring also fall under the umbrella of leadership. To get the most out of your team, as individuals and as a group, you need to create a nurturing working environment that enables people to learn and grow. This could involve informal training and shadowing for less experienced Engineers, or leading by example.
Ethical Decision Making
As we touched on under “Critical Thinking”, applying ethics to decision-making is important for Engineers. In the world of automotive engineering, there are a wide range of ethical dilemmas associated with the future of transport particularly in terms of sustainability and autonomous driving.
While Engineers are not expected to contribute to legislative change or policy, they are creating technological solutions that can dramatically change our world. The key to ethical decision-making is to consider each potential decision and its potential consequence both from an individual and societal level.
Creativity and innovation allow Automotive Engineers to develop new and exciting solutions to a wide range of problems. While this skill may come naturally to many, it can be developed with practice.
One way is to avoid what’s called the “cycle of success” where you get into a rut and follow the same process every time. Working collaboratively with others is a great way to learn different working styles and be inspired by other people’s experiences.
You can also practice creativity outside the workplace, by stimulating the creative part of your brain. This could involve anything from visiting museums to doodling on a piece of paper or listening to music. Seek out new experiences and build a growth mindset that is open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
Get In Touch For More Career Advice for Engineers
Our team at Fields & Rudd are experts in Automotive Engineering recruitment, so understand the technical and soft skills employers are looking for. Whether you work in autonomous driving, e-mobility or connected cars, we can find you a new role in the UK or across Europe.
Get in touch and speak to one of our consultants about developing your soft skills, or taking the next step in your Automotive Engineer career.