Has your professional training kept you up to date with the skills you need as you progress through your career? You may have undertaken lots of technical training and be at the forefront of industry issues and developments, but highly successful professionals are not just technically aware, they possess ‘soft’ skills, which are becoming increasingly sought after.
Many of us worry about whether we will have good jobs in the future, but the outlook for technical experts who have good soft skills is that they will always be in demand. So how does this relate to you? Your technical skills are important and you should develop your expertise, but these are not the sole means to higher-level opportunities for most people. To climb the ladder you need to be able to clearly and concisely share your technical expertise with your colleagues - this is non-negotiable.
If you are failing to recognise the growing importance of soft skills you could be missing out on excellent opportunities, so identify which skills you have by considering what you do well and how you approach certain situations and problems.
What are soft skills?
Employers are now looking for people who can do more than just perform a set of tasks. Qualifications are vital to building a successful career, but it is also important to remember the significance of basic skills and talents that do not necessarily require formal training. These skills seem so basic they are often overlooked, but employers are increasingly searching for more than a qualification, and highlighting your soft skills can put you at a considerable advantage over similarly qualified candidates.
It isn't possible to survive as single entities within the workplace; you have to be able to see the bigger picture, to appreciate your role as a team player and to bring additional personal skills to your profession. It is also important to be familiar with both marketing and financial aspects of the organisation for which you work, as levels of efficiency and productivity are likely to increase with a better understanding of these. Desirable soft skills for engineers include:
Interpersonal skills: These include the ability to lead, motivate and delegate. They are important at every level of organisational responsibility and should always be evident. Being the most technical person in your field is not always enough to succeed unless you can combine this with the ability to convince others that what you are doing is important.
You will certainly need to demonstrate exceptional interpersonal skills if you are to progress professionally. Almost without exception, senior-level vacancies specify interpersonal skills as essential qualities for successful applicants. For example, consider a time when you utilised your interpersonal skills to effectively communicate your ideas to others and obtained their agreement, or when you developed a relationship with a co-worker that you disliked in order to succeed for your company.
Team working: There are two issues a team must consider as a group. Firstly, and most commonly addressed is the task at hand and problems that might be involved in completing it. The second and most overlooked consideration is the process of the teamwork itself and what procedures will ensure the group works cohesively. By acknowledging both of these issues you will be able to clarify group objectives and enhance your team working capabilities.
Lack of evidence that you can work effectively as part of a team is a sure-fire way to eliminate you from the recruitment process. It is absolutely imperative that you have the skills to interact in a group situation. You can demonstrate this by recalling, for example, a successful project that you were a part of, what your role within it was and why the project was a success.
Negotiation skills: Negotiating in a way that means you are able to achieve desired outcomes and still maintain successful ongoing relationships with others is also beneficial. Influencing positively will help you achieve more of what you want and build relationships based on openness, trust, understanding and mutual respect.
Being able to see a situation from another person’s perspective is the key to successful negotiation because appreciating how they are thinking will enable you to present your own thoughts in the most favourable way. An example of your own negotiation skills might be a time that you and your colleagues effectively identified a common goal, assessed different approaches to reaching that goal and considered the suggestions of all participants in order to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
Communication skills: The ability to communicate ideas to others effectively is an absolutely essential requirement for technical, engineering and IT professionals, as the nature of the industries make them dependent upon shared knowledge. In fact, communication skills could be the deciding factor in determining whether or not you are promoted, so without them your career progression could be severely impaired.
Speaking clearly and coherently will allow effective verbal communication with others. Bear in mind that how you speak is more influential to the person that you are communicating with than what you actually say, so think about your body language and tone of voice when you are talking.
The ability to present comprehensive written ideas will enable you to put forward professional documentation of your thoughts and is a highly regarded skill. If you write so that misinterpretation is minimised you’ll find that people are far more receptive to your suggestions.
Communication is a two-way process so listening is therefore an essential aspect. Listening is more than just hearing what is being said. Effective listening encourages others to listen to you and respond to what you say. If communication skills are an area that you feel you could improve on, set about identifying ways in which you could develop them.
Time management: Demonstrating time management skills means controlling and using your time as effectively as possible. Learning how to prioritise can be difficult in a new role, but categorising your responsibilities into two types can help. Visible tasks like filing and clerical duties are those that can build up on your desk waiting for completion, while progress tasks such as planning and long-term strategies do not have a physical presence. Plan so that you have a balance between the two, trying not to neglect the need for progress tasks to be carried out.
Some people are able to produce their highest quality work under immense pressure, while for others meeting tight deadlines can affect their ability to carry out a task efficiently. The best way to prepare for this is to ensure that you plan ahead by identifying the objectives, the tasks that will need to be completed to meet the objectives and the time you expect it to take to complete.
When delegating work, you can decide whether or not the task must be followed precisely or whether a degree of the individual’s own contribution is appropriate. The more you are able to delegate, the less you will be required to dedicate your own time to the task. In addition, an individual’s dedication to a task is likely to increase with greater responsibility.
How do I identify my soft skills?
Think about which soft skills you use in your current job - what would your manager say were your strengths? These personal traits make you unique. Maybe you never miss a deadline or perhaps you have a great attitude. Ask friends, family or colleagues to write down your good and not-so-good traits and have a look at consistencies in their responses. This will help identify your strengths and allow you to work towards improving your weaknesses.
Look into the skills and experiences that would be required in the type of job you are seeking. You can do this by contacting a recruitment consultancy that places engineers in the particular role you are interested in and asking what the fundamental requirements of this role are (don’t worry about asking recruiters, as this is part and parcel of their job.) Job postings and vacancy specifications will also give you an idea of what personal qualities are desirable. How can previous experiences and scenarios be used as examples to support your application for this position?
If you are looking to apply for jobs that are a bit different from your previous roles, you may be put off because you feel you have no previous relevant experience. While in the strictest sense it could be true you have no exact experience, there may be aspects of the role you have done in the past, but in a different context. Skills you have learnt and developed in one situation that could be used in a different situation are referred to as ‘transferable skills’. Having identified these skills, you can see which would apply to the job you are considering - transferable skills can demonstrate more experience than you might think.
Once you have assessed your current competencies and identified areas that need improving, you can begin developing new skills. Traditionally many technical employees have embraced new technical skills and neglected their soft skills, but as with any change you need to be aware of your readiness to change as well as knowing what you want to achieve.
Demonstrating your skills
The demonstration of your key skills should be something that you do through your CV initially, then follow on throughout the interviewing process and should then be ongoing through your working career.
Demonstrate your strengths by finding an example of when you used a certain skill. Think about the whats, whens, whys and hows of every situation and this should help to communicate your selling points and enhance your credibility. Try to show your employers new and alternative materials that distinguish you and your interpersonal skills from the rest of the candidates - presentation footage can demonstrate verbal communication skills, while reports can be used as evidence of your writing capabilities.
Developing new skills
Having identified certain skills that you need to improve and develop to match job criteria, you should then develop a plan, identifying your goal and the steps needed to achieve it. Keep the steps small and manageable and put them in a time frame, defining how you will know when you have reached your goal to measure your success.
Ask others for help. Soft skills by nature involve working with others, so ask for help in developing them. Share your plan with a mentor or talented co-worker and ask for their assistance. Locate a person who does well at what you want to learn and request feedback as you develop. You can also tap into educational, developmental or training opportunities at your work. Meetings, seminars and volunteer work can all help improve certain desirable soft skills.
Finally, continue to challenge new soft skill sets. Research tells us that continual learning keeps our brains active and therefore our minds healthy. Few jobs exist that do not require learning new skills regularly and everyone can improve certain areas of their soft skills capabilities.
*This article was first published on 1st June 2014 by Paul Robinson, Business Development Manager in Oil & Gas
and is reprinted here with full permission.
**About the Writer:
Paul is an experienced Recruiter/Manager with over 20 years in Recruitment including 12 years in the Malaysia Oil & Gas Industry.
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Many of Indonesia’s oil and gas fields, both on and offshore, are coming to the end of their commercially viable operational lifespan. More than 60% of Indonesia’s oil and more than 30% of gas production comes from late-life-cycle resources spread across the world's largest island country. Despite investment and use of enhanced oil field recovery measures, as well as increasing automation to extend the economic lifespan of these assets, decommissioning will soon become necessary.
However Indonesia, like many countries new to the prospect of decommissioning energy infrastructure, face many key technological, fiscal, environmental, regulatory and industrial capacity issues, which need to be addressed by both government and industry decision makers.
This report, commissioned by the consulting and advisory arm of London and Aberdeen based Precision Media & Communications aims to takes a look at many of the issues Indonesia and other South East Asian oil producing nations are likely to face with the prospect of decommissioning the region's oil and gas aging energy infrastructure both onshore and offshore... To find out more Click here
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 2 December 2019 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$55/b
Headlines of the week
The Global Small-Scale LNG Market is projected to grow from 30.8 MTPA in 2016 to 48.3 MTPA by 2022, at a CAGR of 6.7% between 2017 and 2022. The small-scale LNG market across the globe is driven by their increasing LNG demand from remote locations by applications, such as industrial & power, and the ability to transport LNG over long distances without the need for heavy investment such as pipelines. By terminal type, regasification terminal is expected to grow at a highest CAGR between 2017 and 2022. The increasing demand for LNG from the remote locations and global commoditization of LNG are some of the major factors that are driving the demand for small-scale LNG in this segment.
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The Linde Group (Germany), Wärtsilä (Finland), Honeywell International Inc. (U.S.), General Electric (U.S.), and Engie (France), among others are the leading companies operating in the small-scale LNG market. These companies are expected to account for significant shares of the small-scale LNG market in the near future.
Critical questions the report answers:
Growth Drivers are :
Energy cost advantage of LNG over alternate energy sources for end-users
Heavy duty transport companies save approximately 30% on fuel costs on LNG-fueled trucks, compared to diesel fueled trucks, and produce 30% lower emissions. Air pollution from diesel engines is one of the biggest concerns, especially in areas that struggle to meet air-quality standards. On the other hand, natural gas causes complete combustion and fewer emissions than diesel. It is estimated that increasing environmental concerns from the utilization of diesel vehicles is likely to increase the adoption of green fuel technologies such as natural gas. In the case of electric power generation, natural gas engines below 150 KW are more cost effective than oil fueled engines. Fuel cost is one of the major cost for road transportation, which is strongly subject to excise taxation. Typically, an LNG-fueled Volvo FM truck can travel up to 600 km with LNG. With an additional 150 litres of diesel, it can travel up to 1,000 km without refuelling. Thus, reducing the cost of travel. With additional LNG liquefaction capacity expected to come online in the next few years, an oversupply of LNG is expected, which will drive the price of LNG further lower. Considering all these factors, both developed and developing countries are undertaking feasibility studies to recognize the techno-economics of shifting their economies from diesel to natural gas. Therefore, the cheap price of small-scla LNG over others alterantive fuels will drive the growth during the forecast period.
Small-scale LNG terminals are regarded as facilities, including liquefaction and regasification terminals, with a capacity of less than 1 million tons per annum (MTPA) within the scope of this study. It includes the LNG produced from small-scale liquefaction terminals and regasified at small-scale regasification terminals for catering to applications such as LNG-fueled heavy-duty transport, LNG-fueled ships, and industrial & power generation.
North America small-scale LNG market is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period.
The North America small-scale LNG market is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. In North America, most of the small-scale LNG demand in industrial & power applications is met through peak shaving facilities. The peak shaving facilities are used to meet adequate supply of LNG to address the peak demand. In 2015, there were more than 100 peak shaving facilities in the U.S., among which one-half of the peak shaving facilities were located in the Northeast, while a quarter of them were located in the Midwest. Currently, the U.S. has among the highest number of peak shaving plants. However, less than 10% of them are available for any other use due to the current electricity demand. The commissioning of small-scale liquefaction plants can expand the peak shaving capacities in the region.
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Major Market Developments:
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