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Why Can't Engineers Get Good Jobs?

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Beth Stackpole
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The personal touch
Beth Stackpole   10/15/2012 8:05:45 AM
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Online recruiting and online resume submissions have been a mainstay of job searches for more than a decade so I'm not convinced that's the real deterrent from nailing a good job. Moreover, those completely automated HR systems are more the domain of the largest companies (think IBM, HP, Lockheed Martin), not what smaller and mid-sized companies rely on to find their best applicants. That said, I would agree that persistence, the art of picking up the phone, or sending a direct email to the person, not the inbox, that helps in the selection process might be a lost art today. Engineer applicants need to find any way they can to stand out today and that definitely involves cirvumventing the automated system to deliver that personal touch. 

TJ McDermott
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Returns don't justify the requirements
TJ McDermott   10/15/2012 12:12:27 PM
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The anecdote about 29000 applicants being rejected leaving none qualified raises two thoughts.

First, the programmers for the intelligent sorting system should be fired (thus opening up additional positions to be filled).

Second, that employer requirements are too high for the compensation offered.  Imagine meeting all of the requirements stated in the want-ad, only to discover that the compensation they wish to give for the perfect applicant isn't fair.  It may be competitive, but not adequate for meeting all those requirements.

 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Returns don't justify the requirements
Rob Spiegel   10/15/2012 3:45:47 PM
I've always found that the best approach to job seeking is to reach the company before it sends out the online job offer. I think it works to identify the companies that are likely and attractive employers and probe for job opportunities. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Returns don't justify the requirements
Charles Murray   10/15/2012 10:33:54 PM
Agreed, Rob. After a job has been publicly posted on line, it's a cattle call.

Mydesign
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Re: Returns don't justify the requirements
Mydesign   10/16/2012 12:36:29 AM
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Rob, the multiplication factor for each job opening is somewhat between 1000 and 2500. I mean for a single opening companies are getting more than 1000 resumes. Which HR has the time and patients to go through all the resumes for scrutiny? Nobody will, they simply or randomly select some of them or outsource the process or go with recommendations. The result is talent is out and recommended peoples are in.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Returns don't justify the requirements
Rob Spiegel   10/16/2012 2:27:04 PM
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Yes, Mydesign, given all that, networking becomes that much more important. However you work it, it's important to try to meet or reach those who are making the job decision before the job goes out to the world.

Harimohan
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Re: Returns don't justify the requirements
Harimohan   10/18/2012 10:26:10 AM
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then obviously softwares having checklist of required qualities came out to be a good media for giving chance to deserving candidates.

Mydesign
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Email resumes
Mydesign   10/16/2012 12:31:55 AM
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"Are online job applications more of a hindrance than a help"

Sylvie, how many HR or recruiting people really look in to the resumes they are receiving by mail? I heard that most such resumes are redirected to the trash. In most of the companies, recruiting is done from trusted sources like employee reference/recommendations or through third party recruiting agencies. Once I had registered my resume with some online job portal, I didn't get even a single mail replay from any of the employers.

gsmith120
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Re: Email resumes
gsmith120   10/21/2012 7:36:32 PM
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I too think or believe that many HR people only consider softcopy resumes and probably don't give hardcopies a first look. I have gotten good outcomes from online resume postings but have also gotten calls about opportunities that had nothing to do with my skills.

Mydesign
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Re: Email resumes
Mydesign   10/29/2012 12:39:33 AM
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Gsmith120, now a day’s both softcopy and hard copy have the same fate. For both the final destination is either trash box or dustbin. If it’s a softcopy, then have an advantage of preserve it for later usage or can forward to concerned teams many times.

btwolfe
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This explains a lot
btwolfe   10/16/2012 10:01:45 AM
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This explanation jibes with my experience. i figured putting my resume out via LinkedIn and a couple of head hunters would get me some meaningful responses, but so far it's only been for grunt work by employers that aren't interested in paying for experience, and very few at that.

I think the companies recruiting just can't weed through the excess of applicants so the only way for an individual to find a good job is through word-of-mouth and inside information, beating the crowd before the crowd gets wind of it. I suppose it's always been like this to some extend, but I used to be able to find suitable openings in a matter of weeks. I could depend on my skills bubbling me up to the top of the list, or at least high enough to merit an interview. Now the only jobs I hear about are the ones few would be interested in or that are beneath me pay/experience-wise. Perhaps this is just the nature of experience: there are just far fewer jobs of this nature available.

GTOlover
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Skills and presentation
GTOlover   10/16/2012 10:28:35 AM
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I have not had many issues moving from engineering job to engineering job. In doing so I have usually been able to get better pay or benefits. I think the reason is that even though I placed resumes on the career websites, I worked a network of contacts. As suggested, the persistance and the heads up to HR helps get you noticed. Then you have to highlight your skills and experience. In one interview I even volunteered to teach the interviewer a new concept related to the job process. I would caution that make sure you are a skilled speaker and trainer. But the point is, present yourself and be proud of what you have to offer.

As a side note, I am working with my 19 year old son to get him noticed for hire. He is not a degreed engineer so he is looking for entry level technician or machine operator. However, I am using my network and coaching him in presenting his skills as a mechanically minded individual. He has not had a lot of luck breaking into the door for an interview. So skills and experience seem to trump ambition.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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more hindrance than help
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/16/2012 1:29:40 PM
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After finding myself seeking employment in 2008 for the first time in 25 years, I was badly un-prepared to re-enter the job-seekers market.  But getting thrown into that situation, you learn certain things VERY fast.  Several Lessons learned the HARD way:

Hard Lesson #1) Big job boards (Monster.com, TheLadders.com, etc) are filled more with predators than legitimacy.  Alleged recruiters offering you phony interviews for the cost of professional resume writing services.  "Oh, no you didn't get that great job I solicited, probably because of your weak resume; let me offer my service to improve it; $600"

Hard Lesson #2) Thousands of resumes being scanned and sorted by Keywords.  The interviewing manager is subject to their own human-nature to thin the pile; too many choices are confusing.  Ideally, the pile would get narrowed to 2 or 3 candidates. Getting into the final 3 is statistically improbable at best.

Hard Lesson #3) Most big companies don't even see applicants until their front line screening sub-contractors have done the weeding.  Even On-Line, when you pick "Career-Opportunities" from an HP, or IBM sized corporate website, you are immediately redirected to their staffing firm, and get embedded into a lengthy application process, often pages long.

Hard Lesson#4) those recruitment sites often demand pages of pre-qualification data entry about you before you even get to the page asking for the resume download.

Hard Lesson #5) While recruiters and staffing firms can be a good ally, they will also dodge you unless there's an immediate potential up-side for them.  They are, unfortunately, "fair-weather friends".

Most of us have been on both sides of the desk.  When playing the role of hiring manager, you hate the interviewing process, and want a short list of candidates.  When sitting of the Candidate side, you know you face daunting odds even landing an interview.   My bottom line:  Today's technology is more hindrance than help to job seekers, and nothing works as well as a face-to-face, personable discussion among like-mannered professionals.  The trick is getting in the door.

gsmith120
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Re: more hindrance than help
gsmith120   10/21/2012 7:45:50 PM
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JimT I like your Hard Lessons. So true about recruiters as fair weather friends. One of the things I find to be a problem is not only do software just match resume word so do HR people. It would be nice if the first line of screening actually understand the job requirement because they often overlook good engineers just because the keywords didn't match.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: more hindrance than help
Jack Rupert, PE   10/23/2012 2:12:29 PM
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JimT, Best summary I've seen in a while.  I too found myself on the outside looking in around the same time you did.  Another issue is that once the software algorithm gets done throwing out the resumes, the next step is that the 50 or so that survived get weeded out by an HR intern, who might have some familiarity with the business, but certainly not with any of the technical aspect.

I've also noticed that posted job descriptioins are not necessarily the whole picture, or even a reasonable facsimile.  There was one job that sounded like a great fit and I spent a good amount of time crafting the resume, cover letter, etc., making sure all of the buzz words were there.  Even found out the hiring manager's name and contacted him directly.  While you never know where you rank, I thought for sure that this was a least worthy of a phone screen.  Nothing.  Finally got on the other side of the door and looked into that one a bit for my own background.  Given the actual position, rank, expertise required, I wouldn't have hired me either, but you certainly couldn't tell it from the external documentation.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: more hindrance than help
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/24/2012 12:30:10 PM
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Jack - Good point from the sliding perspective – you got to see it from both sides of the firewall; that underscores the importance (and difficulty) of writing the accurately descriptive job-posting (usually done by a staffing person, instead of the guys who actually do the job). BTW, how did you slide across the perspective to the inside view-?

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: more hindrance than help
Jack Rupert, PE   10/25/2012 1:59:43 PM
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@JimT - Actually, I'm straddling that firewall at the moment, doing contract work.  I knew a guy in another department and when I found an opening that interested me, he volunteered to get my resume into the hands of the hiring manager.  My background wasn't quite what the manager was looking for, but told my contact that he might be looking for some contract help in a couple months and to see if I was interested.  Since I was still an unsigned free agent when the contract opportunity opened up, I jumped on it.  Being a known quantity inside can't hurt the goal of changing the status to something a bit more pemanent.  (Yes, I know there is no such thing).

The thing about that story is that I don't know what to tell people who don't have the contact.  Contracting is a good short-term solution while trying to get inside, but I have no idea how I would have even found out about this particular position if the hiring manager didn't bring it up.

bobjengr
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Why Engineers Can't Get Good Jobs
bobjengr   10/16/2012 7:28:14 PM
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  Several years ago the company I worked for sold to a competitor.  I was asked to relocate across country to another state.     Our kids were in high school and moving would have been extremely difficult.   I thought finding an engineering job would be "duck soup".  All I needed was to go online, post my resume and wait for the phone calls, at which time I would pick and choose between the most desirable companies.  Never happened.  Not one call after three weeks.  During that period of time I did start the networking process and in this fashion found a much better job than the one I had.  Everything I did was relative to inter-personal relationships--word of mouth.   By the way, I'm still waiting on those phone calls.

 

Mydesign
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Re: Why Engineers Can't Get Good Jobs
Mydesign   10/29/2012 1:07:51 AM
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Bobjengr, the easiest way to get an engineering job is either a reference made by some of the employees or by a known person. While starting my career I had sent "n' number of resumes to many companies and online job search sites, but nothing work it out.

Dave Palmer
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Internet job boards
Dave Palmer   10/17/2012 11:01:33 AM
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Every engineering job I've ever had, I found on an Internet job board (Monster or CareerBuilder). Yes, it helps to read the job posting carefully and make sure your resume contains some of the same words or phrases, but that's true whether you're dealing with automated filters or just technically illiterate HR personnel. Once, during a pre-screening over the phone, I had an HR person ask me, "So, do you have any experience with metals?" right after I got done detailing my experience in a foundry; I realized that I had only used the terms "casting" and "foundry," never "metal." (Now, I am careful to say "metalcasting"!)

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Internet job boards
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/22/2012 12:46:01 PM
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,,,, and that was the "Professional" entrusted to find the best talent.  Sheesh Friggin' Yikes.  Sad, but unfortunately the NORM.

Mydesign
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Re: Internet job boards
Mydesign   10/29/2012 12:33:41 AM
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Jim, after the initial short listing by HR, second level of short listing is usually done by either by project manager or any technical person nominated by him. Now a day’s in most of the companies first level of filtration is done by some automated software based on certain keywords. If the job seeker didn’t use that particular keyword in their resume, there are possibilities for filter out his resume at initial stage itself.

louie_Z
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Unemployment and Technology
louie_Z   3/25/2013 5:34:06 AM
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Through Internet, it's now easy for job seekers to look and apply online. We have seen the helpfulness of technology. However, a recent report says that, due to technological improvements, computers and bots are killing middle class jobs at a growing rate, which might be the reason why unemployment rate in Washington and other parts of U.S. remains high. You may need a payday loan to pay for your expenses in the bad economy.

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