Depending on how you interpret the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, anywhere from 40% to 70% of American workers owe their jobs to networking. A lot of us get our foot in the door through social networks and discussion groups, where engineers and managers get together to talk shop… and scout for talent.
LinkedIn groups, in particular, have earned a reputation as informal hiring halls for modern engineering firms. EngineerJobs scouted out a number of promising LinkedIn groups, focusing on the top ten highest-paid engineering disciplines.
The largest and most active group, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, is a semi-private group for SPE members. The membership dues are nominal and the educational requirements basic for employment in the field (which is also a condition of membership).
If your interest is in exploration and geophysics, we recommend you check out the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Serving as a hub for conferences, education, and publications, it’s a useful starting point for learning the ground and making connections in the field.
A few established trade groups maintain a presence on LinkedIn, such as the American Nuclear Society. Here, you’ll find technical and free-form discussion covering all angles of the industry, as well as specific, regional issues. Joining the Society itself isn’t required to participate, but might not be a bad idea for its own sake; the ANS draws its membership from over 1,600 companies in the nuclear power industry.
There are also two very active discussion and networking groups specific to LinkedIn. Networking for Nuclear Engineers & Nuclear Professionals is a good crowd to stand out in, drawing a high percentage of its membership from senior staff and management. The Nuclear Industry public group is smaller, making it easier to stand out, but with a similar ratio of entry-level to senior staff.
Computer Hardware Engineers
LinkedIn networking for computer hardware engineers is made more difficult by the sheer volume of hardware-related discussion and debate in the community. For networking purposes, its best to target a niche within the industry and develop your contacts within targeted LinkedIn groups.
For example, the High Performance Computing group is active and growing, with over 9,000 members working in the field. Its members are mostly engineers and researchers, but a respectable fraction of the community are IT workers, consultants, and educators.
The Forensic Focus LinkedIn group offers networking opportunities to engineers interested in computer forensics technology and applications, especially IT professionals, consultants, and engineers in the military and protective services sectors.
Finally, the GIS, Mapping, and Geotechnology Professionals group is huge, with several active subgroups dedicated to GIS applications for local government, education and professional development, and data collection technologies.
On LinkedIn, aerospace engineers have a number of general interest and specialty groups to join. The largest general discussion and networking group at the time of this writing is Aviation & Aerospace Professionals, with over 64,000 participants from all corners on the industry.
There are a lot of more focused LinkedIn aerospace groups for engineers, as well. Defense & Aerospace covers defense applications and technologies, while International Aircraft Engine Association and Aircraft Maintenance and Manufacturing are more for hands-on engineers and enthusiasts.
LinkedIn hosts several groups of interest to chemical and process engineers, whether your interest is networking, job search, or problem-solving.
Several large trade groups are represented, such as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. The AIChE, despite the name, draws its members from 92 countries and a range of disciplines. Engineers interested in both core and emerging disciplines are well-represented here, so this group might be a good beginning for networking opportunities in disciplines yet too narrow for large, dedicated groups of their own.
Otherwise, the two largest general discussion and networking LinkedIn groups for chemical engineers are the eponymous Chemical Engineers and Process Engineer communities. The latter is the place to go for shop talk, technical discussion, and problem solving, which are all great platforms to demonstrate chops within your chosen discipline.
For civil engineers, the largest open LinkedIn group is the Civil/ Structural Engineering Network. This group offers a good mix of general and technical discussion, shared articles, and recruiting activity, with international reach and dozens of job postings per week. The ENG Engineer Network Group is similar, but tends to attract more recruiting activity than technical discussions.
If you prefer to do your networking through real-world trade groups, the American Society of Civil Engineers moderates a LinkedIn group of its own. Their LinkedIn presence is enormous, with over 90,000 members and seven specialized subgroups. The group is well-moderated, active, and averages over a hundred job postings per week. While the size and age of this group can be intimidating (the ASCE itself dates back to the mid-nineteenth century), the ASCE also operate several smaller subgroups and parallel groups for different disciplines within the field, providing a number of accessible forums in which to make yourself heard.
One way the Electrical Power Engineers LinkedIn group stands out is by explicitly confining recruiting and marketing discussions to dedicated subgroups, which keeps the central group focused on networking and information of interest to electrical engineers. Its membership is international and evenly split between entry level and senior engineers, mostly from the electrical and electronics manufacturing industries.
Electrical Engineer and Instrumentation is another large and active board, offering a lot of crossover discussion between electrical engineers and those working in the oil and gas industries. While dedicated to networking between engineers, the group is open to recruiters and averages a 2:1 ratio between job posting and discussion. Similarly, Electrical Engineer is evenly divided between networking and job posting activity. Its members are mostly entry-level electronics engineers, with some representation from the petroleum and construction sectors.
For materials engineers, LinkedIn offers several networking opportunities worth investigating. Metallurgy & Materials Science is populated by a balance of engineering, research, and operations personnel from around the world and features equal parts topical discussion and employment postings. It hosts two subgroups, failure analysis and ferrous metallurgy, geared more towards information exchange and discussion.
Another large, open, general group for materials engineers is the Metallurgist, Metalurgical & Material Engineer Global Community. While featuring the usual mix of technical and employment discussion, this group is much more engineering- than research-oriented. Members regularly post detailed, technical questions and articles for discussion, offering you opportunities to demonstrate your applied engineering knowledge to prospective contacts and employers.
If you’re more interested in the research side of the discipline, we recommend joining the Materials Science group. While slower than the previous two groups in terms of growth and activity, the discussions and articles here explore technical developments, innovations, and techniques of high demand in emerging disciplines.
The largest and most active LinkedIn mining engineering groups are heavily populated by senior staff and management personnel who prefer to keep recruiters at arms length and the dialogue on target. Mining Industry Professionals, for example. has more senior-and-above personnel than the total membership of entire groups we’ve covered, above, and restricts recruiting activity to Mining HR & Recruitment Specialists Association members only. Mining and Metals Professionals Globally takes things a step farther, banning recruiting and marketing altogether. Both groups have a number of thriving subgroups dedicated to technical specialties within the discipline, making it easy to connect within your specific areas of interest.
If you connect best through mentorship and educational programs within trade groups, SME operates a LinkedIn group for mining engineers, the Society for Mineral, Metallurgy & Exploration Group. Membership isn’t required for participation, so you can use their LinkedIn group as a chance to explore SME’s offerings and network with affiliated engineers while you consider whether or not to join.
By many estimates, biomedical engineering is the fastest-growing occupational sector in the United States, with the BLS forecasting a 62% employment growth by 2020. Its presence on LinkedIn is still rather small, however, making it much easier to stand out to potential contacts and recruiters.
If your interest is in engineering, the Biomedical & Clinical Engineering LinkedIn group is centered around medical device and healthcare applications. Membership is scattered internationally and predominantly entry-level, but the group has experienced steadily increasing growth since 2012.
For the research community, a good starting point is the Biomedical Engineering Society Network. This is the official group of the BMES, a tight-knit professional organization which manages several peer-reviewed publications, conferences, and educational programs dedicated to developments in the field. While small, the BMES is a high-value network for engineers looking to connect with clinical and biotechnology researchers.
Finally, the largest biomedical engineering group on LinkedIn is Biomedical Engineer Jobs. As an open group, there is a higher noise-to-signal ratio than the BMES, but much more activity and recruitment posting. Membership is split between research and engineering personnel, with a bias towards entry-level employees in the field of medical device engineering. One advantage Biomedical Engineer Jobs has over the Biomedical & Clinical Engineering LinkedIn group is that it is more US-focused, geographically, making targeted employment-driven networking easier.
Is there a favorite group we’ve neglected? Why not tweet us @EngineerJobs or leave a comment with your suggestions?