4 Essential Skills Hiring Managers Look for in Young Engineers


By Kevin Howell

There’s plenty of job opportunities for young engineers, and openings are expected to increase as about 25 percent of the engineering workforce is nearing retirement age, according to EMSI.

But with opportunity comes competition. The most popular college major is engineering, according to a CareerBuilder survey, and more graduates are entering the field each year.

Whether you’re looking for your first job after college or seeking a new opportunity early in your career, here are some skills that will help you stand out from the competition and grab hiring managers’ attention.

Cultural Adaptability

As an engineer, you’ll often work with a diverse group of professionals located all across the globe. You’ll have to adapt to personalities, cultures, and temperaments to get the job done.

Likewise, a company may want a new hire to travel to a job site in another country to work on a project.Large Group of Diverse Multiethnic Cheerful People Concept

Are you up for that? Show hiring managers you have experience adapting to different cultures.

Don’t have tangible experience in that area? Get some! Organizations like EPICs in IEEE have opportunities for students to work on projects around the world. Check out some of our past student projects.


If there’s one thing that makes a hiring manager perk up, it’s seeing an innovative project on a prospect’s resume. You may have a high grade point average or attend an elite school, but hands-on experience trumps all.

IEEE student member Sharath Kalkur has an impressive project on his résumé. Using a $1,300 grant from EPICs, Kalkur and three others from the RNS Institute of Technology in Bangalore, India, designed a portable device to translate basic American Sign Language into text and audio in real time.

Projects like this can make the difference during the hiring process.


Communication is an essential skill because of the collaborative nature of engineering. Not only do you need interpersonal skills to work with a team to complete projects, you also need to articulate your ideas in a clear and persuasive way.

Hiring managers will note how effectively you communicate your experience and ideas during the interview as well as team experience on your résumé.

Problem Solving

Engineers are charged with solving large and complex problems. Showing you have experience in this area will help move you along in the interview process.

Hiring managers look for candidates who use empirical thinking to identify problems and apply knowledge and creativity to develop efficient solutions. Explain how you solved a complex problem as well as your thought process in arriving at the solution to get an edge.

Female student solving mathematical problem on black boardThough there are other important skills hiring managers consider, these four will distinguish you from the field of applicants. Engineering is becoming more competitive. Take the necessary steps now to stay ahead.

If you’re looking to boost your resume with an innovative project, EPICS in IEEE can help. We fund engineering-related projects for IEEE members and students members like you. Find out more or propose project here.