From engineer to manager

Are you ready to make the move into management? Find out what skills and experience recruiters look for and discover when it’s the right time to take this step.

An interview Hiring managers who are considering taking an engineer into a management role will be looking for individuals who have proven problem-solving abilities and have been willing to take on management opportunities in the past.

At no stage of your career is it too early to start amassing the relevant experience and skills that will lead you towards a management role, so be sure to keep the idea of professional development at the back of your mind throughout your higher education and early career.

Don’t wait too late

“Many student and newly-qualified engineers aspire to a management role at some point in their career. While management roles can take many years’ experience and are not suitable for everyone, even when you are starting your career, it’s worth being aware of the kind of skills that you might need to acquire for the role,” notes the Managing Director of Cordant Technical & Engineering.

“There are many ways that students or graduates can start to gain the sort of relevant experience they will need for management roles in the future. Young engineers’ sandwich courses offer placements within industry, or you could try for an internship. There are also opportunities to develop dissertations funded by industry focusing on specific problems.

“If you’re already in a role, take advantage of any in-house training and mentoring help that is offered. Target full member status and benefit from membership programmes such as IET Advantage. Seek out technology training on the likes of Catia, Cadds5, Nastran and Matlab. Try and get experience in project engineering (full lifecycle).”

Aspirational engineers need to take every opportunity available to them to enhance their employability. Wherever possible develop your people skills and gain hands-on managerial experience.

“This can be acquired from sitting in on meetings as well as asking to contribute to project plans and monthly reports, for example,” highlights a Global Account Director at recruitment specialist Fircroft. “More generally, you should also look to develop a wider understanding of the consequences and potential implications of poor decisions or hold ups on a project, not just for your role but for the business as a whole,” they add.

Are you ready for a management role?

We’re sorry to tell you, buy there’s no grand “Eureka!” moment when you suddenly wake up and know you’re ready to take on a managerial role.

These skills take time to develop and there are many new challenges you’ll have to be prepared to deal with when you make this move. Cordant Technical & Engineering’s MD highlights some of the factors you should consider before heading down this path.

“Managing people is a big step up and can be a significant responsibility. Not only will your role change but also your responsibilities will shift. It’s worth considering how you cope working under pressure and to tight deadlines in your current role and if you already have the ability to motivate and drive people to want to work for you. Do you take full accountability for your work or do you pass the responsibility onto a colleague?

“These are all questions that individuals need to ask themselves before committing, as moving into a management role too early could potentially damage your career.”

You’re ready! So what next?

If, having given it some thought, you feel that you’re up to the challenge, the next step is to ask your manager for advice.

“Ask what support and advice they can give you to help achieve your objective, what opportunities might be open to you and what skills they think you could develop further ready for this move,” says the Global Account Director from Fircroft.”

Then it’s time to approach the recruiters themselves and find out if you’re really ready to start applying.

“It’s worth speaking to specialist recruitment experts to see if your skills and experience are also in line with the marketplace, if there’s any additional experience you need and what the current range of opportunities and requirements are,” Fircroft’s Global Account Director adds.