Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Engineering Professional Development in Your Current Role Career Management for Engineers
'Hands-on Help for SMEs' and Smart Technical People'
You should aim to seek out opportunities to grow and develop in your current role. If you have an annual appraisal and even better a personal development plan, use this to put in place stretching objectives to develop yourself. Aim to excel in what you do, rather than just settling for satisfactory. Examine your current role and pick a number of specific areas you wish to improve in.
Engineering Professional Development examples include specific knowledge or expertise, software, more experience, an operational task, transferable skill or some other area. Plan out how you can improve. This may be through training, study or working with others, or just through practice. Alternatively, there may be another way. Use initiative and take the odd risk, rather than playing it safe all the time. Solve problems, make improvements, or volunteer. Be proactive and positive both verbally and with your behaviour. Actually want to get on. Develop in areas that are aligned to your goals. Ideally, new or improved skills should be transferable and increase employability.
Be visible. Make sure others notice you, without being vain. Build your reputation as a positive individual who is productive and has a proven track record of achievement. At best it will put you in the right position for progression; at worse it may just save you if your company are unfortunate enough to have to make redundancies.
Related to being visible, is the aim of being involved in decision making. Most technicians and engineers will work in teams or on projects of one sort or other. Start by forcing yourself to make decisions locally, even if these are then delivered as recommendations to managers. Get into the habit of using your experience and specialist knowledge to be decisive – and get noticed for it. Make your engineering professional development count.
As you progress, being empowered to make more decisions gives you increased freedom to make the choices most likely to benefit your objectives and goals. Do you personally know who the key decision makers are who impact your role and activities? Do they know you and are they aware of the potential improvements you can make, resulting from you expert knowledge? Plan how you intend to get them to be more central figures in your network or increase your interaction with them. At the very least, consider greater interaction online, through email, blog comments etc. Be brave – compile your message and click that send button! Go on, just do it!
Engineering Professional Development that works...
Market Yourself – Personal Branding
Be aware of the way others perceive you, without being vain. Try to come across as a can-do positive person who can help. Make an effort to get along with people, not just close work colleagues but others you interactive with less frequently. After all, we are social animals and you will get more out of work if you do. In addition, you’ll build your network and almost certainly make some really useful contacts capable of assisting you in new areas of expertise. Return favours and offer to help. Seek feedback from close colleagues. Build your reputation as somebody who has integrity. See the sections on ‘Improving Your Personal Profile’ and ‘Self-Improvement in the Work Place’ for more tips. These soft skills compliment your engineering professional development.
Be aware of your behaviour, conduct and language. Be friendly and welcoming, yet appropriate for the people you are speaking to. Be bold and take opportunities to speak publically and address colleagues. You’re among friends and the majority are supportive and appreciative. It’s a good way to informally practice this powerful business skill. See the section on Public Speaking for more tips.
Engineering Professional Development that works...
Work-Life Balance and Job Satisfaction
Whilst it is significant your career is challenging and rewarding, it is important to keep it in perspective. Ensure you maintain other areas of your life, like family and social interests. Aim to remain rounded and be an interesting conversationalist by displaying behaviours that compliment your engineering professional development. In turn, this will enable you to build rapport and find common ground with more people, therefore strengthening your networking skills. This feeds into your career development.
Most jobs are stressful at some time, but keep an eye on stress and make sure it’s not your default position. Ideally, by planning and managing your career you should be aiming for positions you want to do - a role you love. Achieving job satisfaction is far more likely if your role is something you genuinely want to do. Planning and managing your career is the best way of achieving this. Remember, with your engineering professional development you’re in control. So make decisions that work for you.
Back to Your Career Management
Have you had an inspirational coach, mentor or manager? Knowing what you know now, what’s the single most effective piece of advice you’d give to a young engineer coming through now?