The following are tips for conducting a job search in engineering:
Set specific goals.
Keep a “to-do” list.
Maintain a calendar to record information and meetings.
Tailor your résumé and cover letter to specific types of positions.
Target specific companies that are of interest to you.
Develop your networking skills.
Broaden your network with each contact.
Prepare well for each interview.
Research each company.
Know the company’s operations, products, and current market situation.
Know why you want to work for that company.
Know how to describe your background in twenty seconds.
Be able to clearly articulate your skills, interests, and abilities.
Know what you want to convey about yourself and make sure that you do.
Master the art of the “Behavioral Interview,” also known in the engineering field as “Competency Based Interviewing.”
There are numerous online sites that can help you prepare:
After conducting the self-awareness process outlined in Part One of this book, the next step, and the very best strategy for finding an engineering job in industry, is research, research, research!
Search engines are one of your best friends when it comes to researching companies, but a word of caution before you begin. Most job openings are not posted on the Internet, so to make sure that you are tapping into the best available jobs in your field, work with your career services office, network through the many contacts you have off and on campus, and read trade journals in your engineering field. All of these strategies are important for a successful job search.
It’s also important to remember that there is a great deal of glossy corporate literature and Internet information for some companies. As a result, there might be a tendency to develop myths about the working conditions of organizations portrayed in such a fashion. You need to go beyond corporate recruiting literature and really get to know the organization before you accept a job. While you will want to do much of this research before applying
and interviewing for a job, it is good to remember that the interview, particularly site interviews, will be an important element of your research before accepting a job offer.
Resources for Your Job Search
If you have completed your self-assessment and are ready to begin your search for an engineering position in industry, there are numerous resources available to you. They range from your campus career services office to the Internet. The most important thing to remember is that the research you conduct on companies and the knowledge that you have about their product, their competition, their goals, and their structure will not only help you determine if a particular organization is the “best fit” for you, but it will also set you apart in the interviews. In addition, this knowledge of the employer will give you a real advantage if you decide to accept an offer and begin your career with the organization. To help you get started, the following career and job websites have been identified by engineering discipline:
aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=336 (for AIAA members only)
Materials Science and Engineering
Engineering Co-op and Internships
General Career Information
Despite the ease of access to information on the Internet, it is worth repeating that the Internet should not be your only source of information. There is so much available in print as well. You owe it to yourself to become familiar with the important resources available in your university career center and the library. A short list follows:
General Reference Material
Dun & Bradstreet (dnb.com)
Standard and Poor’s Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives (standardandpoors.com)
Directory of American Research and Technology
The Corporate Directory of U.S. Public Companies
Ward’s Business Directory of Corporate Affiliations
Ward’s Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies
Area Trends in Employment
The People’s Almanac’s Book of Lists
Dictionary of Occupational Titles
Moody’s Reference Manuals
Moody’s Industrial Manual
Moody’s International Manual
Business Phone Book USA: The National Directory of Addresses and Telephone Numbers
The Directory of Directories
The following is a list of reference materials that contain descriptions of companies you may want to use in your job search. Some of these references are material supply catalogs that have company listings within them (usually toward the back) that describe the products that the companies manufacture.
The Biotechnology Information Directory (cato.com/biotech)
ChemcyclopediaCorpTech Directory of Technology Companies
CorpTech Fast 5000 Company Locator
Directory of American Research and Technology
Job Choices in Science and Industry
Laser Focus World Buyer’s Guide
Modern Plastics Encyclopedia
Research and Development Directory
Specific Company Information
The websites of the specific companies that interest you are also a source of valuable information. However, you need to remember that this is only the information the employer wants you to have. To be well prepared, you also need to research more objective sources of information about the organization in which you are interested. Both the print and Internet sources previously mentioned can help you in this regard.
For publicly traded companies, the annual report is an extremely helpful piece of information and will usually be available online. And you do not have to be an M.B.A. to read it for your purposes!
Begin by reading the chief executive officer’s letter to shareholders. It will address the challenges and the achievements of the company in the past year. It will also describe a plan of action for the future. The plan will indicate how employees will be impacted by the plan.
Next you should look at the gross sales and the expenditures. Are there any areas that appear to be larger than expected, or significantly higher than the previous year? This may be a good source of questions about what was
going on within the company to require such costs.
Acquisitions and new product lines might also be identified in reading the annual report. It is a wealth of information and could help you in gaining an edge in the interview process.
More company information is available by accessing databases such as CAREER SEARCH, ABI/Inform, Compact Disclosure, and Newspaper Abstracts. Generally, these databases can be accessed online through your Internet server or through your college career services office and/or university library.
Identifying Job Openings for Engineers
Engineering majors tend to be well served by their campus career services offices. It is advisable to register with that office as soon as possible and use all of the resources that it makes available. The National Association of Colleges and Employers, the primary professional association for college and university career services directors and corporate recruiters, annually publishes a series entitled Job Choices, with a special volume for engineers. This is must reading for engineering students planning to enter the job market.
Specialized listings also are available through contacting the various engineering professional associations and societies. You will find contact information at the end of this chapter.