Job Hunting Tips and Tricks for Engineers

Are you guilty of blindly firing off your resume to any company with an open engineering position?

I am and I bet you have done this too.

This time around, try one of these three stealth moves that are sure to open up more doors for you.

Job Hunting Technique 1 - Coffee Networking

Meet for coffee with anyone in your immediate network to leverage their network and help you brainstorm ideas. LinkedIn works well for this. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Start with your primary connections. People who you have met in person before.
  2. Filter out anyone who is not in your desired work industry.
  3. Tell them you are looking for a career change and would like to buy them coffee to get their take on the industry.
  4. During the meeting, talk positively about your current company if you are employed (since no one will recommend you if you say, "I'd like to check my email all day long for a different company").
  5. Highlight your accomplishments and your future ambitions.
  6. Ask them if they know of any companies in that industry that might be a good fit.
  7. Once they mention a few, say "that's fantastic, I really like the reputation of Company XYZ. Do you think you could introduce me to your contact there?"
  8. Then once your connection has made the introduction, meet that person to tell them your ambitions and see if there is an opportunity. If not, see if they can introduce you to someone else.
coffee cup

Job Hunting Technique 2 - Email the VP of the Company

This is how I landed both of my last two jobs. And since as many as 80% of jobs are not advertised, it works really well and few people use it. I help aspiring engineers full-time now, but before practiceppeexams.ca, I was a job hunter too. Special thanks to my university friend Andrew for showing me this technique. Here are the steps for this method.

  1. Find a company that you would like to work for (they don't need to have any open jobs - but ideally you are considering a company that is growing so something will open up soon).
  2. Email the person in charge of that office or branch. Not the office manager, but someone at a VP or similar level that is responsible for meeting financial targets of that region. This could be the manager of an engineering department for example or the Vice President of that region.
  3. Personalize my email template and send it off:

----

letter

Hello Mr./Ms. ______,

We've never met, but my name is _____ _____ and I am looking to re-enter the green building industry and would love to have the chance to speak with you about your career at ______. I would also like to gain some insights from your experiences with LEED and other facility projects.

I am passionate about the green building industry and am looking to combine my education, my work experiences, and my personal interests into a career that involves the management of green facilities. I have attached my resume and an article that I wrote for Construction Canada about my experiences with LEED.

To give you a quick snap-shot of my career, I have a background in mechanical engineering from McMaster University and have been a LEED AP since May 2007. I have spent several years in the green building industry working as a sustainability consultant for ______ ______ where I worked with clients to develop energy audits, carbon footprints, renewable energy studies, and other green facility studies. Prior to that experience, I managed the LEED-EB certification of _____ _______'s head office in Mississauga (it was the 2nd building in Canada to become LEED-EB certified).   Recently, after relocating to Ottawa in September 2009, I have been self-employed working on a variety of projects including the field work for over 30 energy audits.

Regardless of the possibility of available employment opportunities with your company, I would love to have the chance to speak with you.

Thanks for your time and hopefully we can speak soon,

First name   last name
----

What followed for me in both cases was the VP set up a meeting to meet the director. That led to an interview and then the job.

Job Hunting Technique 3 - Get Involved

This is the slowest method, but another effective way to land your next job and build relationships in the process. Here are the steps:

  1. Visit your Associations website
  2. Search for the events page
  3. Search for low-cost opportunities to meet people - volunteer opportunities, free seminars, annual meeting or events. For instance, if you were a member of APEGBC you might find https://www.apeg.bc.ca/Events. There you can pick from seminars, events, branch events and external events.

Getting involved and making friends in the process is a great way to open doors in your career.

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There are a variety of alternative ways to get yourself in front of the right people and now you know a few of them. I hope you consider these alternatives to submitting directly to a job posting, which can land your resume in the famous Human Resources black hole.

How did you land your last job? Share your technique in the comments below to give everyone some more ideas.

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3 Comments

  1. Gavin Simone on September 27, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Hope you enjoy the career post. If you have any tips to add, do so here. Thanks.

  2. William Gruber on June 20, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Great article! Very insightful. Pain Letters though not very popular is has becoming the standard for landing a job when the conventional methods fail.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Gavin Simone on June 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Hi William, great recommendation. Here is an article on pain letters for anyone interested.

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