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Soft Skills

Soft Skills

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 172).      

I have an evolving theory. The number of letters after someones name on their business card is inversely proportional to how good they are at their job. 

Last month I was given a business card from an “engineer” who had 4 qualifications after his name and on his LinkedIn profile he is an “expert”. All evidence is to the contrary so far. 

To miss quote Margaret Thatcher, “if you have to tell someone you are an expert, you certainly are not!”.

Example of Most Epic Biz Card Ever!








(credit / source:

If you are a C Eng, P Eng, PE or qualified in your field you only need one qualification after your name on a business card. Actually, I would argue you do not even need that. 

For me, “status signalling” with multiple qualifications on your business card reads as an unearned demand for professional entitlement and a lack of confidence. In a digital world, why are we still handing over business cards? Is it just ceremony?

I believe that qualifying people and firms must be evidence based. When I interview prospective hires I am interested in what they have objectively done. Their degree or certification is only a “ticket” to get an interview. 

This leads me to the question, are the following proof of competence?

  • Degrees
  • Diplomas
  • Certifications
  • Biz cards with letters letters after your name

IMHO, No. Qualifications are just that, qualifications. They are not evidence of competence they are evidence of an ability to memorize and pass tests. 

One of my side hustles is coaching and career advice ( ). A FAQ junior engineers ask is, what second degree or certification they should take next. So to answer this FAQ:

1) If you want to work and not be a full time academic you absolutely do not need a Masters Degree in engineering to be a licensed professional engineer. This is a fallacy pushed by greedy universities to sell more education. In North America, you need an approved 4 year bachelors degree.

When I see CV’s with Bachelors and Masters Degrees in the same subject I assume this person could not get a job after their first degree or did not want to leave university. Either way, it is a red flag and shows lack of imagination. 

2) If you must do a Masters Degree and you have for example an engineering degree, do your Masters in something adjacent that could signal you are potential “leadership material” e.g project management or business management. 

3) IMHO the best ROI is soft skills development once you have the qualifications necessary to enter your chosen profession. 

Bottom line, If you are a C Eng, P Eng, PE or qualified in your field stop doing more technical courses. Spend your time developing soft skills.

As a previous business owner and employer of engineers, experience has shown me that leaders and successful people do not “status signal”, they demonstrate their excellence by their work and deeds.

The truth they never tell you is, to reach the top of your profession or firm you have to deliver at scale. This means delivering via the combined actions of others. Your personal technical awesomeness becomes a small factor at scale, you need to be able to;

• persuade people to do things outside their comfort zone;
• give people confidence to “make the stretch”;
• take hard decisions;
• lead people to complete an objective.

Inexperienced or bad leaders use bully tactics or try to get people to like them. This does NOT work. Leadership and team management are soft skills. No level of scaring people or advanced mathematics will help you with this. 

Therefore, once you have the basic degree or qualifications to gain entry to your chosen profession I recommend the following soft skills training:

  1. Public speaking. Join Toastmasters, it will change your life. This is a must have skill for any leader or manager. 
  2.  Take creative and technical writing courses. Being able to write concisely and persuasively is a necessary skill that is strangely absent in building design and construction. 
  3. NLP training to master level.
  4. Hypnoses training. Sounds strange but every major selling organization trains their sales team for this skill. Hypnoses is not the BS you see on TV it is very subtle and used on you more than you realize. 

IMHO, anyone who actions items 1 thru 4 will experiance an exceptional career outcome! 

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

Related posts & links:

#108 – Qualifications Vs Experience Plus 8 Things Students Should Know ( )

#125 – Paying For Talent ( )

#105 – Bad Projects? No, Only Bad Leadership ( )

#152 – Why The Why Matters ( )

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