Q: How can I get an engineering job after a hiatus?
Welcome to Episode #26 of Engineering Career TV. The topic for this episode is getting an engineering job after a hiatus.
I spend most of the Engineering Career TV episodes answering questions that have been submitted from engineers around the world on how to rapidly advance their careers and live the lives they want to live.
You can submit questions for the show by clicking here.
Let’s jump into today’s topic: getting an engineering job after a hiatus, which is based on a question from Matt, who asks the following:
Q: Hello, I am a P.E. currently unemployed in the Twin Cities and I’m running into barriers with finding a position at a consulting firm that fits my skill set. From ’99 to ’07 I worked at 4 different places, then unemployed/stay-at-home-dad from ’07 to ’14. In 2015 I went back to work at a fast paced civil consulting firm via a placement agency. It was very difficult to go back after a 7-year hiatus, but I worked hard and got back in the game. After 4 months, the CEO took me aside and told me I wouldn’t be hired directly. I had 2 months left on my contract, and they honored that. By July I was looking for work and managed meetings with 3 firms. I thought I had landed a position after a second interview, but the firm backed out at the last minute and decided to hire a tech instead of an engineer.
The result is that due to my intermittent employment over the last 16 years, I’ve not developed and matured as a P.E. Over 16 years I have, at most, 8 years of genuine experience. Concepts aren’t the biggest issue, but rather my lack of project management. At my most recent job, I was under a lot of pressure to not only get back into the game, but also manage projects to help lighten the load for other department managers. I’ve never had a mentor, or no formal project management training, and my project management skills are very weak. I understand there’s no substitute for experience, but at this point, I need something more to help me advance my career. What I’m looking for is some counsel on what steps can be taken now to improve my chances at success in a private consulting firm. Is there a specific program at PMI I should look at? Any other bits of advice that may give me a different perspective and help open up new doors? I hope that by providing a bit of my history and where I’m at now will help define on where I should start with additional training, and point me to helpful reading materials.
A: The full answer can be seen in the Engineering Career TV video above, but here are a few of the main points:
- The only reason that I would want to hire you is if you are going to help me achieve some goal or bring some benefit that is going to move me to hire you.
- What you need to do is to look at your body of work. Only you know your skill sets and if you think you can be valuable to a company.
- You have to think about that value add that you can bring to the table.
- Identify the 5 % of your skills that you do really well, figure out how they can bring massive value to a company, do whatever you have to do to develop those skills, and then approach a company and try to get employment.
Resources mentioned in today’s Engineering Career TV:
What questions do you have about getting an engineering job after a hiatus?
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success