Engineering jobs are usually specialized positions, requiring a close match of the candidate’s education, experience, and skills to the job’s requirements.
Nearly all engineering jobs require at least a Bachelor of Science degree in the proper engineering discipline, and companies often prefer new hires for research and development departments to have a Master of Science degree. In some companies, it might be possible for some workers with Associate degrees to begin their careers as technicians, and work their way up to engineering positions through experience. However, those engineers typically have fewer options for career advancement within the company and are unlikely to be hired directly into another company as an engineer.
Many companies hold recruiting events at colleges and universities. These events provide excellent opportunities for students to meet company representatives, gain interviewing skills, and if all goes well, be invited by companies for further interviews.
Experience and Skills
Take an inventory of your experience and skills, and determine how well they match up with the kind of job you are looking for. A new engineering graduate or an engineering student seeking an internship will have little or no previous experience, so companies will be expecting to train for the specific required skills necessary. A basic understanding of the engineering field and demonstrated ability to learn, along with enthusiasm, are what hiring companies will expect.
However, when hiring for experienced positions, employers will first look for candidates who already have specific technical expertise for the job. Identify the gaps in your skillset, and seek out opportunities to fill them.
Identify the employers you would like to work for, and find out all you can about them. Company web sites often have an enormous amount of information on key products and divisions. In addition, web sites will have contact information and site locations. If the company is publicly traded on a stock exchange, it must disclose financial information. This can help you determine the financial health of the company, and possibly give clues to job security. News reports can reveal further information about a company’s products and reputation.
Some companies are receptive to giving interested candidates informational interviews, where a candidate can visit the company and learn what it does without the pressure of a formal job interview. These are an excellent way to learn about a company, because it gives you direct access to potential future co-workers, and a chance to observe the company’s work environment.
Most job openings are not advertised. Networking will help you tap into this hidden job market. If you are an experienced engineer, the best networking sources are former colleagues. These can be former co-workers, customers, suppliers, competitors, contacts you have made through industry associations or even friends and family outside the industry. Many people, including some you might not expect, will be willing to help if they know you are looking for an engineering job.
A call-write-call method is a powerful tool for expanding your network. Call a company you would like to work for and ask for the name of the manager who would be the decision-maker on hiring if there were an opening for the position. Don’t ask to talk to him. Instead, write a letter saying that you will call within a few days, and enclose a resume. When you call, after being sure the letter has had enough time to arrive, ask to set up a short meeting of maybe fifteen minutes. If the manager agrees, do not ask for a job at the meeting. Instead, ask for career advice. Although you will get many more rejections than acceptances from this method, it is a proven method for establishing new contacts and tapping into the hidden job market.
There are many different places where engineering jobs might be advertised. Major Internet job boards have many engineering positions listed. Newspapers are still a good source, but make sure you also look at newspaper web sites. Because newspapers charge less for web advertising than print advertising, the classified section of newspaper web sites often have advertisements not listed in the print editions. In addition to the major Internet job boards, there are many job boards focused on specific types of engineering jobs. State unemployment office job listings are another good source of leads. Finally, remember to look in your industry’s trade magazines.
Contract Employment and Consulting
Another option, which seems to be an increasing trend, is seeking contract employment through a temporary agency. Companies are increasingly turning to contract engineers, at least for a trial period before offering a permanent position. In the right situation, this may be an excellent path into a company. Send your resume and register with agencies that specialize in providing engineering services.
If you have the right experience, business skills, and contacts, consulting is another option. Consulting lets you keep the fees that would go the temporary agency, and you may find that you like creating your own employment rather than working for a corporation. And even if it’s merely an interlude between full-time jobs, it can be a good way to grow your network.If you have the right experience