Dear Huddie

Dear Huddie: “I Can’t Land a Job” and Starting a New Career

February 1, 2013

Back for installment two of Dear Huddie – a bi-weekly column to assist engineer job hunters in their pursuit of happiness. Personally I am already tired of Lance, Te’o and the not looking forward to hearing about the “Harbaugh Brothers” Bowl – but such is life!

Onto this week’s letters … let’s see who we can help!

Dear Huddie –

I have been in the market for a new job, searched websites, including EngineerJobs.com, made phone calls and even hand delivered resumes – I just can’t seem to land my dream job – any advice?

Signed – Engineer Jobseeker in NY

Well Engineer Jobseeker –

I can give you the standard answers here (format that resume, keep searching, blah blah!) but the true answer is selling yourself. Put yourself in the shoes of the people interviewing or reviewing a resume. We all show up with our penguin suit, good grades, good references – although I always wondered what would happen if you gave the contact information for a bad reference, say an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, I am sure that would go well!

The goal is to SELL YOURSELF, PERIOD!

My first on-campus interview was interesting to say the least – the waiting room could have been the penguin display at the local zoo! eight to 10 fresh-faced engineers with the dark suits, white shirts, dark ties – and all with a binder that most likely contained a few copies of the resume we submitted and a blank legal pad! Why – because the first question could be, “we forgot a copy of your resume, do you have one?”

This is a test of preparedness – and we all pass that one, but I digress! The next day I saw a few of my fellow penguins/engineers – we all discussed “ACME COMPANY” (was not really Acme, but if the real company wants some press the need to pay!).

The reports back were “tough interview,” “the Acme guys said limited spots and a lot of good candidates” – which were reasonable thoughts for those penguins. You see, I had gone into that same interview, answered the first couple questions from the two interviewers – then they looked at one another and said, “Should we cut the BS and get to some real questions?”

Obviously at this point I was confused – what are they talking about? It turns out after five to 10 minutes of questions I had what they were looking for; within 30 minutes I had an unofficial offer – yet my other penguin friends were turned away? What was it? As it turns out I went to work for good old Acme. About three years later I saw my file, with notes from that interview, which included:

  • Personable – can relate to fellow employees
  • Confident
  • Good work ethic
  • Workaholic?
  • Sexy – like Right Said Fred sexy (OK, maybe not this one!)

Notice it did not include A in microeconomics, or B+ Women’s Literature, or high score on Wii Bowling. As engineers we can get certain labels attached (ever watch The Big Bang Theory?), and we need to break from those labels and the engineer stigma, come out of your shell and SELL YOURSELF!

Dear Huddie –

I landed my first engineering gig and my first day is February 4th – any advice for someone just starting their career?

Signed – Newbie in Texas

Well Newbie, we are excited for you. Not sure what company you are going to work for, but take the engineer title seriously – co-workers will be leaning on you for technical help, spreadsheets and sometimes basic math. I was the lone Engineer in my first office (they would pronounce it ENG-GA-NEER as in, “where the heck is that ENG-GA-NEER!?”).

You will be asked some of the following (or at least I was):

  • Why is my internet down? – duh, the cord is not plugged in (this was prior to WiFi!)
  • Can I add this chemical to that chemical?
  • What’s that smell? (Hey, it wasn’t me, but stay away from spicy tacos in Texas!)
  • Can you come to my house and program my DVD player – the clock just blinks?!?!

So go in with confidence, be prepared for anything, and most importantly the best answer can sometimes be “I am not sure, but I can get back to you on that!”

That’s it for now, next installment in two weeks – don’t forget to send your Dear Huddie questions to dearhuddie@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Huddie