I bumped into an engineering friend the other day – unfortunately he has been out of work for a number of months and is in his late fifties. He was becoming somewhat despondent about the employment situation and at his age it is undoubtedly tough. Employers are very cautious about employing engineering ‘veterans’ no matter how good they are. Unless the employers have a specific need for the specialised skill that you may have.
My take on it is that if you are idling without work; you have to work every angle you can lay your hands on to get back into employment. The longer you are out of the workforce; the harder it is to get back in.
Statistically, it is said that up to 80% of new jobs are never advertised. So what you see on the job’s website and in the newspapers are only a poor shadow of the real activity going on below the surface. Similarly, new projects and work, is often not advertised but given to existing contacts or those who the company knows about.
Unadvertised jobs include jobs that only are created when the right candidate with the right fit of skills (and attitude) comes along. Or there is an impending vacancy that will happen some time in the future and the job is thus not advertised. Or, the hiring manager, is casting around internally for someone suitable; and hasn’t got to the stage of formally advertising.
It is thus not routine practice for employers to screen resumes from strangers to find an appropriate candidate. Employers are extraordinarily risk averse these days – they are looking for a solid referral from a trusted individual who can vouch for the ability of the candidate. Sadly, the old adage is true:’It’s not what you know that matters, but who you know.’
I often hear of job candidates applying for a job, being interviewed and then never hearing anything further. They find out later that some internal candidate has then been appointed to the job (or some “mate of a mate”).
A few suggestions on getting your profile out there and enhancing your chances of securing a good job.
• Keep actively involved on all the various social networking sites especially LinkedIn (very good for professional activities) and their various job and project forums.
• Stay active and involved with your local engineering society and keep vigorously networking and attending presentations by experts
• Join forums which discuss technical topics in your area of interest. Contribute actively.
• Keep talking to all your peers in industry about current developments
• Scan newspapers, magazines and web sites for projects starting up and completing
• Keep an eye on people being employed (as advertised in New Appointments)
• And when looking at job adverts – look not only for jobs but details of new projects/services being created by companies.
• Form relationships with employers – esp. if you are turned down for a job and stay in touch for other opportunities.
• Keep talking to your chums in industry by grabbing a quick cup of coffee with them.
Thanks to Debra Feldman and the IEEE for an excellent article.
And remember – no matter how much you already know, as George Santayana remarks so sagely: The wisest mind has something yet to learn.
Yours in engineering learning
Mackay’s Musings – 22nd August’17 #666
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