Getting That First 'Real' Engineering Job

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published On: 15 Jan 2016

You’re most likely reading this because you’ve recently graduated with your Bachelor’s Degree, Masters or maybe even a PhD. Congratulations!

Now, all you need to do is the small task of actually finding an engineering job that works for you. There are many sectors and industries within engineering, and deciding which one can be difficult. Chances are you may have found your niche through research at an education level and you want to pursue this path. Some of you will have the experience you need but will want to move on to something entirely different. Here’s a short guide to get you started:

Get a hobby

  • If you’ve studied, researched, lived and breathed engineering, it’s likely you have a hobby that relates to it. Why not expand on this hobby? Build websites, or computers – or fix old cars. Learn in your spare time.

Get your contacts

  • Get your profile on professional websites liked LinkedIn. If you’ve never explored LinkedIn properly, now is the time to do so. Have a look at our handy guide here.
  • Your lecturers may have been very frustrating during your education, but they’re vital contacts for you to have post-university. Search for them on LinkedIn and email them regularly so they remember you. They can then give you a fantastic reference as well as pointing you in the right direction.
  • Why not join the IET? Professional bodies such as the IET offer a huge host of resources available at your disposal, from new-found research in books and journals to contacts and jobs.
  • Once you’ve found your connections, make sure you maintain those connections through consistent contact with them. Don’t chase them up constantly, and empathise with their busy schedule. You’ll come across as eager but professional.

Get the information

  • If you’ve landed an interview, it’s always good practice to research the company before applying, let alone before an interview. Get all of their current information as well as their history. Were they in the press recently?
  • Set up a Google Alert on that particular company. You can then get regular updates sent straight to you. You’ll always be on top of the game.
  • Research the company’s competitors. What do they have that this company doesn’t, and vice-versa. How could you change the dynamic of the company in a positive and innovative way?

Personalise each application

  • Unless you’re 100% set on where you want to go within the engineering sector, you’ll probably be applying to many different places who specialise in many different things. Keep on top of your applications by personalising your CV and cover letter for each position/company you apply for. It will show that you’re thorough.
  • Try to make each application different. You may be applying for two different roles in one organisation – and you don’t want to repeat yourself too much. Keep the technical knowledge the same (don’t lie!) but perhaps move things around a bit on your CV or highlight different skills on your application that the job might ask for.
  • Adhere to the company’s values and techniques. Use buzzwords you’ve seen on their website (not so much that it’s obvious).
  • Competition is tough. There may be a shortage of engineers in the UK but this doesn’t mean that you can easily walk into any job you want. It all depends if you have the specific skills for the specific role.

Change is coming

  • Engineering is a world of constant change and never stands still. You’ll need to display an awareness of changes in your environment and be willing to adapt to them.
  • Keep up to date with the latest goings-on in your chosen area of engineering. Once again, Google Alerts can be useful for staying in the know.
  • Health and safety. Here’s an area that’s always changing for increasingly diverse work environments. Are you aware of the latest workplace practices for the role you’re looking for? If not, you’ll need to do some digging and find out the basics. Most health and safety is on-site dependent and you’ll be shown the ropes once you’re there – but do keep this in mind.

Best of luck to you in entering the exciting and forever changing world of engineering!

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