What Skills Do Employers Look For In Mechanical Engineers?

December 12, 2022

If you're thinking about a career in mechanical engineering, you might be wondering if you have what it takes. This highly technical role requires a specific skill set in order to succeed. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the skills employers look for in mechanical engineers.

First and foremost, mechanical engineers need to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. They need to be able to understand complex systems and identify potential issues.

They also need to be able to come up with creative solutions to problems. But how do you build and develop these skills, and then how do you show that you have them in an interview setting? Let's explore this career in more detail to understand more about what employers are looking for.

What is mechanical engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the design, construction, and operation of machinery. Mechanical engineers are involved in the development of everything from small parts and components to large systems and machines. 

They might work on designing tiny pieces to help make machines more efficient, or they might design entire manufacturing production lines.

Mechanical engineers also work on engines, brakes, transmissions, or other types of machinery. In some cases, they might also work on robotics or automated production lines. This is an essential role within manufacturing and the sector could not function without mechanical engineers.

What skills do you need to be a mechanical engineer?

In order to be successful in this role, you'll need a combination of both technical and soft skills.

On the technical side, you'll need to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. As we mentioned before, you'll need to be able to understand complex systems and identify potential issues. You'll also need to be able to think creatively and come up with novel solutions for common and uncommon problems. 

Maths, physics and design are often desired for this sector. To study this subject at university, you’ll need to make sure you have the right A levels to be able to progress.

On the soft skills side of things, you'll need excellent communication skills. This is important because you'll often be working in team settings and will need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly. You could also be communicating with non-engineering colleagues, so you’ll need to be able to explain very complex theories as simply as possible. 

You should also be able to work well under pressure, as some projects may have tight deadlines. And finally, you'll need to be able to stay organised and manage your time effectively. Mechanical engineers often need to work independently and as part of a team, so you need to be self-motivated and flexible in your approach to work.

What skills do employers look for in mechanical engineers?

Employers look for a wide range of skills in their newest recruits, including:

Technical skills

It goes without saying that you will need to be technically competent in order to succeed in this role. This means having strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to understand complex systems. You'll also need to be able to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to common problems.

Ability to work under pressure

In this role, you'll often be working on tight deadlines, so it's important that you're able to work well under pressure. This means prioritising your workload in order to meet your deadlines.

Problem-solving skills

As a mechanical engineer, you'll need to be able to identify and solve problems. This could involve coming up with creative solutions to common problems or devising experiments to explain why something isn't working as expected.

Creativity

Mechanical engineers need to be able to think creatively in order to come up with innovative solutions to problems. This means thinking outside the box and coming up with new solutions that previously didn't exist. It can also mean applying principles from other sectors to mechanical engineering.

Interpersonal skills

It's important that you have strong interpersonal skills as a mechanical engineer. This is because you'll often be working in team settings and will need to be able to get along and work with a wide range of people.

Communication skills

You'll need to have excellent communication skills in order to succeed as a mechanical engineer. This is important because you'll often be working with other engineers and non-engineers, and you need to be able to communicate your thoughts with both groups.

Commercial awareness

You'll also need to be aware of the commercial aspects of your work. This means understanding the financial implications of your decisions and being able to justify decisions and expenses.

Teamwork

As a mechanical engineer, you'll often be working in team settings. This means you need to be able to work well with other people, taking their ideas on board and using them to make your own ideas stronger.

There are a few key skills that employers look for in mechanical engineers. First and foremost, they need to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. They need to be able to understand complex systems and identify potential issues. They also need to be able to come up with creative solutions.

Employers also want to know that you have good commercial awareness, as this will allow you to understand the needs of the business and meet deadlines. Finally, they'll want to see that you have excellent communication skills, as this is essential for working in team settings. 

If you're thinking about a career in mechanical engineering, the first step is to achieve the qualifications you need to be able to work in the sector. Next, you have to think about how you will impress employers with your CV and interview skills.

How do you demonstrate these skills on your CV?

When it comes to your CV, you need to make sure that you highlight your technical skills and experience in a way that will impress employers. One way to do this is to include a section on your CV that details your key skills and strengths. In this section, you should specifically mention your analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as any extracurricular work that has enabled you to expand on these skills.

It's important to show how you developed these skills, rather than just stating that you have them. For example, if you have experience working on complex machinery, make sure to mention this in your CV, and include an example of where you gained this skill. 

Your experience doesn't have to come directly from engineering roles. If you're a recent graduate, you should lean on experience from university, other relevant work experience, and extracurricular activities to help make your application stand out.

In addition to your CV, you'll also need to ace the interview process in order to land the job. In the next section, we'll explore how you can ace the interview stage to convince employers that you have what it takes to become an engineer.

How do you demonstrate these skills in an interview?

When it comes to interviews, you need to be able to demonstrate your problem-solving skills in order to impress employers. One way to do this is to come prepared with examples of challenges you've faced in the past and how you solved them. This could be from previous roles, university projects, or even extracurricular activities.

For every question where you are asked to talk about specific skills, make sure you can back this up with an example of how you have used it in the past. And if it's a skill you haven't yet mastered, let them know what steps you are taking to achieve this additional skill.

Using the STAR method can help you to answer questions in a detailed manner and ensure you don’t miss anything important. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This is the ideal way to structure a skill-based question to show how you demonstrated this skill and what impact it has had on your career.

How can I improve my engineering skills?

One of the best ways to improve your skills as an engineer is with ongoing training. This could be through short courses, or by looking for mentorship within your organisation. Once you have identified an area you would like to improve in, you can take steps to formulate a professional career development plan.

You could also expand your skills by securing chartered engineer status. This is an advanced qualification that will develop and then demonstrate your skills to potential employers. You can dramatically increase your earning potential once you have secured chartered status. This is one of the best ways to show employers that you are a leader in your field.

Closing thoughts

Mechanical engineering is a competitive field with plenty of opportunity for progression if you are willing to commit to lifelong learning. From the moment you decide you would like to study mechanical engineering, you should be thinking about how you can demonstrate your skills and experience to employers. It’s never too soon to start thinking about employment opportunities, so students and graduates should be mindful of the skills employers will be looking for.

Nolan Recruitment is a Specialist Engineering Recruitment Agency. One of the UK's best Engineering & Technical Recruiter

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