Faced with two candidates with the same level of qualifications and professional experience, what is it that sets one apart from another? What will make you look more favourably on one than the other? The answer is their skill set.

What are skill sets?

An individual’s combination of abilities, knowledge and experience creates a unique skill set that illustrates that individual’s ability to perform in a specific role. This combination can include both professional and general skills, presenting a potential candidate who is more than just a string of academic accreditations and achievements that are the norm for jobs in engineering.

A skillset demonstrates tangible evidence of that individual’s accomplishments in the workplace and desire to continue to improve their skills and progress in their careers.

A new way of thinking

A core element of this ‘reset’ in the methods of recruitment has evolved out of the changing demands of the selection criteria. As the skills gap has widened, the reliance on a specific set of qualifications has narrowed the amount of choice, essentially barring the way in for many competent applicants. Widening the selection criteria to skill sets means that engineering firms are essentially deflating reliance on degree requirements and removing barriers to engineering jobs that may well have been out of the reach of otherwise competent and capable candidates.

What does a skill set demonstrate?

A skill set is highlighted alongside your professional skill set and demonstrates a much wider and more ‘rounded’ personality. These skills tend to be transferrable and underpin your overall ability to perform a job function. For example, candidates applying for a staff engineering role will need to demonstrate that they have the right academic qualifications. However, those who will stand out are those who can additionally show that they have skills in communicating and creative problem-solving.

Different skills you need to be looking for include: (soft skills) decision making, multitasking, creative problem solving, collaboration, teamwork, empathy, leadership, communication, and initiative – though this list is by no means exhaustive.

Hard skills tend to be those that have involved a degree of professional and personal development undertaken through learning and independent study.

A demonstration of experience

Obviously, the more skills you can showcase, the more experience you can surmise from a CV. An engineering firm will look for a different set of hard skills than, for example, a healthcare or education environment. For example, a staff engineer may have additional skills based in problem-solving, coding and network management. In contrast, a candidate in an education role will require a demonstration of conflict resolution, motivation, and empathy.

When advertising for jobs, engineering firms need to think long and hard about the range of soft and hard skill sets that are pertinent to the roles on offer and build these into the job description. This gives a much wider set of criteria around which potential candidates can build a relevant and pertinent application, breaking down previous barriers which may have previously held them back from applying.

Look out for evidence of these skills being employed in actual circumstances. Although there is not the time or space to go through every single one in detail on a CV, it should include enough information to elicit further interest from the recruitment process.

If you need to understand further the role skill sets can play in your next round of recruitment, BMS can help to build them into your job descriptions. Upload your vacancy here.