Engineering is the fastest-growing career. There is no shortage of jobs for engineers, but as the field grows, competition is heating. The race for the best jobs is a challenging one. The best engineers with the best attitude will be the most successful. Here are three tips to help you stand out from the crowd.
1. Learn your craft inside and out.
Employers want to know what their hires can do for them. They want to hire engineers who truly care about their company and want to help. Use the information you learn from your research into the company you are applying for to ask intelligent questions about their company and its goals.
You can get to know your company by:
- Reading public company finance reports
- Learning about your company's customer base
- Learning where your company sells its products and services
- Doing an online search to learn more about their competitors, pricing and customers
2. Create a stand-out portfolio.
A portfolio is a summary of who you are, what you do and why you do it. It helps an employer get to know your character and your strengths and weaknesses. A portfolio helps your employers see how you can help them and distinguishes you from the rest.
A good portfolio should include:
- A one-page biography of your strengths, weaknesses, education and awards
- A list of places you have interned, volunteer experiences, hobbies and any languages you speak other than your first language
- A solid resume
- Information about your past projects and other technical and relevant non-technical skills
- Letters of recommendation from your past employers, customers and college professors
- College transcripts
You should have an online portfolio and an in-print portfolio. A physical portfolio appeals to employers who prefer print over digital. A digital portfolio can be linked to your LinkedIn.
3. Challenge yourself to expand your abilities.
Engineering is constantly changing. Surround yourself with people who strive for greatness. Learn from your mistakes and accept challenging work.
You can build new skills by:
- Going to networking conferences for engineers
- Joining a networking group (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers are all great networking groups for engineers)
- Accepting some project-based jobs
- Taking on challenging projects that require new skills
- Creating your own, personal projects
- Learning new skills and talents no one else in your field or company provides
- Being teachable and willing to learn new skills while on the job
- Being willing to learn from those with more experience
- Developing relationships with mentors who have been in your company longer than you
Extra Tips for Challenging Yourself
- Don't let labels like "female engineer" define you.
- Learn to be a good leader.
- Practice excellent social skills.
You're an engineer. You've worked hard for this. All the math, physics, data analysis and challenging coursework has brought you to a new chapter in your life. One with potential for a great career and future. Use these tips to impress any potential employer. Don't be discouraged if you don't get your dream job right away. If you always strive to be better, you'll keep moving up. Think about what you can do for your employer and how you can help their customers.