on February 18th, 2009

Dear Colleagues

Back into the engineering fray or selling a unique engineering skill

You may have been out of main stream engineering for some time or you may be eagerly looking to get into some niche area of technology. Or indeed, your company has a new skill set to sell and you may be struggling to get it over the line. Some of the following may be posing problems:

• There is a gap in your career and hence your employment history
• Due to the implosion in the markets, your former contacts and networks have evaporated.
• And an added irritation is that nowadays you have to get past a computerized gatekeeper before you can even join the long list of applicants.

SO - some form of purposeful and meticulous networking, to secure this job, is critical. Especially in today’s world - companies are dynamic and have ever changing needs. You need to ‘get known’ by the firm and keep your name at the ‘top of the pile’. This can yield startling results. And the most promising situation of all is when you have some very specialized skills which you can demonstrate convincingly, I have often seen jobs being created due to the unique abilities of the applicants.

Some action tips for getting that engineering job that you want:

• Try and focus on niche expertise. Don’t be everything to everyone. Give your skills a boost with extraordinary achievements in your career.
• Target niche engineering employers who will value your specific experience
• Convince your would-be employer of the confidence you have in your ability by suggesting a remuneration increase, based on your performance, after being in the job for a while.
• Go the extra mile with presentations, white papers, outstanding references.
• Start the network and feed it. Keep growing your network and add to it with key players.
• Run the marathon; don’t blitz the sprint. Keep positive and persistent
• Keep your message and structure consistent. Ensure that your experience, bio and approach are aligned.
• Be bold in who you are and how you approach them for a job - Who dares, wins. A colleague, when first arriving in Australia, threw a dinner party for the top players in the aircraft industry to ensure a job offer. Approach decision makers directly; not through underlings.
• Demonstrate chutzpah and panache in your job search and applications. Be different to other applicants. For example use a youtube video to demonstrate your skills.
• Don’t compromise. If the job offer is not what you want or you have doubts about delivering, don’t crucify yourself. Avoid it.
• Be generous in your contributions. You have significant engineering skills and experience. Help others and help your would-be interviewers with useful advice.
HT Leslie’s remark is relevant to our engineering careers and indeed, in selling our skills: “The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as in playing a good hand well”

Thanks Debra Feldman (of JobWhiz) for your interesting comments - from which much of this is drawn.

Yours in engineering learning


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