Securing your first engineering role
Engineers are sought after in the UK and internationally. Salaries across the broad spectrum of engineering are high and rank well for job security. Don’t, however, let complacency hinder your chances of landing the dream job. Engineering graduates are some of the brightest and most determined job seekers, therefore competition for a great engineering role is high. These are our tips for making the most of your engineering degree.
Start job seeking before you graduate
As recruiters, we’d much rather you left university without the contacts so that we can place you! However, as honest human beings, we should tell you that your contemporaries are putting out feelers and networking so you should be too. This doesn’t mean sucking up to anyone who could be useful later on, it just means talking about careers with tutors, visiting lecturers, industry representatives, careers advisors, fellow students etc. You’re not demanding a job, you’re doing research into the opportunities available. Landing a dream engineering role takes work.
A key issue our clients have when searching for new talent is actually enthusiasm. If you show that you’re keen to learn, work hard and get ahead, people notice. People generally want to help and often feel flattered that you’re consulting them for advice.
Perspective on your first engineering role
There is nothing wrong with aiming high but don’t expect the world in your first role. When you graduate you will be at the beginning of your career. You know the basics but when you start to work the real learning will begin. Talented engineers are needed and you can progress very quickly but aim to get into a great company before deciding on the level of role you ‘deserve’.
For an ambitious engineer, you need to be aware of the balancing of a lowly title in a prestigious firm against a more inflated title in an unknown company. Hirers later on in your career may be more impressed by the company than the job title – you’re a graduate so expected to start low.
Experience you need for your first engineering role
You may well have had a placement year during your degree and you must emphasise industry experience when you’re applying for your first role. The more experience you have the more chance you have of securing your dream job. Work experience is invaluable and even 2 weeks of shadowing in a relevant company is viewed well.
Try to make all your work time count so if you take a Saturday job during university try to link it to engineering, even if it’s working in a museum or library with connections to the subject. Your experience doesn’t just show your practical knowledge, it shows that you live and breathe engineering and work hard to fulfil your ambitions. That can be worth several exam results!
Get help and don’t give up!
Finally, it can be a pretty depressing experience trying to get your first graduate job. Your university results may have given you a false sense of confidence and after several months of job searching, you may be feeling very despondent. It may be time to reflect. Review your CV and cover letters. Talk to as many people as you can about your applications to ensure you are not missing something or misrepresenting yourself somehow.
When you are confident that your applications are right, you must just continue applying. Tailor your application every time, check and double-check, follow up applications and repeat. Engineering roles are out there and graduates are needed. You will find a job but it may take time. Don’t lose faith!