Vas adds, “Networking is also important; engineers need to keep in touch with alumni as well as industry experts via various interactive forums to understand the ground realities better.”

Why you should continuously improve your soft skills
“Soft skills are applied emotional intelligence and as such, they are very important. As engineers, we are taught to think and apply the logic of math and science. However, we are being ruled by emotions,” says Prohodsky.

Soft skills are very essential for personal and professional development of individuals. “In today’s economy, it is even more important considering a significant portion of Indian GDP comes from services sector. To support this growth in services sector, organisations require talents who possess greater soft skills along with hard skills,” notes Rajesh Choudhary.

“Technical skills may take you to the doorstep but it is your soft skills that will open up the door for you,” believes Dr Pallab.

Adding on the growing importance of soft skills in today’s world, Vemuri says, “They (soft skills) are in demand than ever. Increasing possibility of interactions with global peers, customers, virtual teams and cross-cultural discussions mandate employers to look out for fine-tuned, polished workforce.”

“Soft skills facilitate efficiency and effectiveness at work,” says Sunil Pathak, HR director, Cadence Design Systems. While flawless technical expertise is the primary necessity, soft skills are imperative to ensure high-quality contribution and delivery.

Pandit explains, “An engineer might be excellent at writing code to solve a particular problem but unless he possesses soft skills, he would neither be able to understand the problem faced by a customer nor explain how his suggested method makes the best fitted solution for the customer’s problem.”

Dr Pallab believes that soft skills are as important as technical skills due to two main factors: “One is that employees are being sent on projects to international locations, where they need to articulate their thoughts and actions to become productive. Second, with enhanced globalisation, virtual communication has taken a front seat in today’s organisations.”

An engineer is rewarded for his ability to make decisions, manage risks and creativity. Therefore soft skills are vital for an individual to get employed and grow in an organisation.

Myth Buster
Myth 1: It is the hard skills (technical skills) that get you a job, not soft skills.Truth: You need to balance both.
Myth 2: Being strong in analytical aptitude, quantitative expertise and information-gathering ability is enough to fetch a job.
Truth: In addition to the above, you need strategic thinking, written and oral communication skills, leadership skills, and adaptability.

A ‘soft skills’ survey
Recently, EFY conducted an opinion survey of engineering students, fresh professionals and industry analysts through various social media platforms to understand the importance of soft skills, apart from tech knowhow, for a successful career.

62.63 per cent respondents believed that soft skills were important but not the deciding factor. 25.29 per cent believed that soft skills were extremely important. Remaining 12.08 per cent believed that these were important as complementary skills.

EFY Survey results on soft skills across various social media platforms

Hard skills vs soft skills— what you should focus on
Let’s take the example of software engineers. They need to be skilled in software development and testing to be able to build, test and provide support for the applications developed by them. However, to do that successfully, they need to work in a team and interact with team members to provide the best products and services. Any misunderstanding or strife between team members would result in products and services that would not be of the highest standards. Computer programming in many languages is a hard skill, whereas problem solving and communication are soft skills.

“There are key differences between hard skills and soft skills but both are important and ideally complement each other,” says Choudhary. “It’s like IQ vs EQ. Soft skills use the emotional centre (EQ), i.e., the right brain, whereas hard skills use the logical center (IQ), i.e., the left brain.”

Dr Bandyopadhyay says, “In today’s corporate world it is no more an ‘either or’ proposition. Striking the right balance between technical and behavioural skills is the key to one’s personal and career success. Weighing the importance of the two may largely depend on the role in question.”

Finding soft skills ‘hard’? Here is how to enhance them
According to Rashid, there are three ways to enhance one’s soft skills. The first step is to gain knowledge on the subject.

“Communication process and its importance, ways to improve relationships with people and qualities of a good team member or leader can be studied through various books available in the market,” suggests Rashid. Books written by seasoned professionals and businessmen are recommended.

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