Saturday, May 18, 2024

Soft Skills and Skill Enhancement Programs Take You Closer To Your Dream Engineering Job

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Gone are the days when barely having an engineering graduation would guarantee a job in a top raking company in India. Now, with the cut-throat competition and a sudden increase in the number of engineers graduating per year, experts feel that fresh engineers should inculcate more than just pure engineering skills to land that ‘dream’ job. In this context, ‘other’ skills refer to soft skills and external skill enhancement programs that add value to your engineering certification thereby making you employable.

You have the technicals; but still fail to crack interviews

We surveyed fresh engineers, numbering more than a hundred from across Karnataka; over 60% of our respondents stated that despite having the right skill-sets for the job, they did not have confidence while putting these skills across which led to an unfortunate rejection of candidature.

Skills here refer to both oral and written. Our respondents also stated that their resumes lacked proper language resulting in instant rejection.

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Soft Skills, Skill Enhancement Programs Take You Closer To Your Dream Engineering Job
Reasons for rejection in interviews, as stated by our survey respondents

They also believe that training in soft skills is the need of the hour. Even interpersonal skills cultivation takes engineers places; of-course technical knowledge and domain expertise gets primary priority here.

The above thinking was also echoed by season human resource (HR) professionals who also feel that proper communication achieved via appropriate soft skills is one of the key recruitments to analyse candidates’ potential.

Defining the problem and narrowing the analysis down often requires a lot of soft skills.  Balancing the demands on your time to reduce infinite what-if scenarios, and understanding the requestors’ needs requires effective communication and total understanding of the business needs.” States Bastin Robin – chief data scientist at Bengaluru-based Hash Research Labs.

Bastin is also a vociferous supporter of the soft skills cause. According to him, inculcation of soft skills with interpersonal skills in tandem would weed out the issue of engineers communicating more than that is required during real-world scenarios (job interviews, during presentations, et all).

“Training in soft skills and person skills are mandatory for today’s techies. This should be the responsibility of the placement cell of the college from which engineers graduate,” states a senior human resource (HR) professional at Symantec India who requested anonymity.

“Engineers should also have problem-solving skills. These come in very handy during recruitments where the candidates are totally screened for their problem-solving ability.” adds this anonymous Symantec HR professional.

Breaking down soft skills

Inculcating the right soft skills takes a lot of effort despite the fact that it sounds rosy. Now, soft skills are made up of the below aspects which when mastered come in handy throughout life:

Effective communication not only to get jobs; but with everybody in your life:

“Communication also involves speaking to people who are out of your comfort zone. It is vital that you come across as a true blue-eyed professional; rather than a technology-obsessed bookworm,” states Harish Babu who works as a senior soft-skills trainer at Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation which is also called Keonics. Harish works closely with fresh engineering graduates in Karnataka helping them master soft skills as well as teaching skill enhancement programs.

“Having the right communication skills ensures that you strike the right chord with people. I have personally seen instances where interview candidates who scored high in programming tests were rejected in the HR interview rounds due to bad body language and lack of confidence during communication.” adds Harish.

This clearly means that your communication is your key to unlocking your dream job. You can master the art of communication from various media; the foremost one is your confidence. Be smart to receive the best is a sentiment echoed even by engineering career counsellors.

There are also institutes that offer courses in soft skills, personality development, and interpersonal skills (Keonics is an example here). But these are best done at the college placement levels.

Lateral Thinking

Experts have rated this skill highly and advise that with lateral thinking engineers’ career could go places. These are best used when there are tricky problems.

“Avoid agreeing to delivering too much information that will be not useful to solving the core issues.” adds Bastin who also recommends fresh engineers to learn the ‘connecting the dots’ approach by analysing problems from different angles which results in lateral solutions to these issues.

Even our survey respondents agreed in unison that lateral thinking should be a part of the university curriculum rather than technical jargons. The participants of our survey believed lateral thinking (and soft skills in general) is like a foundation to a multi-storied building; stronger the foundation, stronger the house.

Influencing opinions

This is a key aspect which when overly done results in disaster. “Speak and conduct such that the listener is in awe of your knowledge,” states the Symantec HR professional.

Always remember that you may have a perfect resume and the right interview skills; these might only get you to an interview but not through it. Job interviews require all the soft skills you have.

It doesn’t hurt to opt for external soft skills training and skill enhancement programs

Career counsellors and experts highly recommend fresh engineering graduates to invest on quality soft skills and skill enhancement training even outside of their college. The major reason attributed to this opinion is the fact that a multitude of engineering colleges (the privately managed ones) offer very negligible training in skill development for students.

“Most of today’s private colleges are focussed only on completing the syllabus on time. This is where their responsibility ends. Educators are not bothered about where the student goes after this.” stated Krishna Bhat the head of department (HOD) of computer science and principal of a well-known engineering college in Karnataka.

Krishna Bhat also advises fresh engineers to seek a short-term (preferably 3 months) course on soft skills and evens skill enhancement before jumping in to work. Most of these programs usually do not involve inflated costs; therefore, financial burden is also mostly eliminated.

Skill enhancement helps in mastering concepts completely

In case you are into coding, experts recommend that you work extensively on programming languages. “Pick one programming language and master it.” recommends Bastin.

Our survey respondents, also comprising of fresh coders, were enthusiastic to take up Red Hat Linux Certification.

Other preferred courses were SAP, Data base Administration (DBA), and Software Testing. These also cut across graduates from even other branches of engineering who sought entry into the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITes) domains.

Soft Skills, Skill Enhancement Programs Take You Closer To Your Dream Engineering Job
Skill enhancement preference among our survey respondents

Now, in case you are not a coder, and not from the IT domain at all, it is best that you specifically concentrate on certification courses related to your domain; rather than jumping on to the information technology (IT) bandwagon.

Finally, with multiple Post Graduate Diploma options, your career scope only increases.

Experts Consulted:

Bastin Robin chief data scientist at Bengaluru-based Hash Research Labs
Harish Babu soft skills trainer at Keonics Bengaluru
Prof. Krishna Bhat head of department (HoD) of computer science and Principal at a top engineering college in Karnataka
Fresh engineering students numbering 100A couple of human resource professionals who did not want to be quotedA senior HR professional at Symantec who requested anonymity

Written by Rahul R, Senior Technical Journalist at EFY

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