With graduation season upon us, soon-to-be graduates will be looking to land fruitful careers in the engineering world. And while engineering majors still dominate the list of college degrees that pay the highest salaries to new college graduates, the job market is not what it used to be.
Having said that, it’s more important than ever to be prepared for that first interview. There are a lot of factors that go into landing an engineering job. From a good cover letter and resume, to shaking hands and dressing the part. Now, here are four tips to landing that engineering job:
Polish up your resume
If you still have access to your campus, you should visit your career resource department. Your college will be able to keep you up-to-date on upcoming career fairs and companies looking to interview. It’s very common for engineering companies to send job openings to colleges that they have good relationships with. In the meantime, strive to polish up your resume and cover letters. This is also something your career center can help you with.
Practice your interviewing skills
Many interviews can make you feel like you are under a microscope. While this may be true to an extent, it’s important for you to practice your interviewing skills. You can do this by conducting a mock interview with a professor or close friend. Keep in mind, that you’re not reenacting a scene from Step Brothers; do your best to take this mock interview seriously. When you’re done, figure out the areas you fall short and work on improving them for the real interview.
Dress for the job you want
I often get asked the question, “Does it really matter how I dress for an interview?”. The answer is yes, always yes. Think of an interview as a first date. Not only will the interviewer assess your personality, but you better believe that he or she will judge your outfit too. Depending on what field of engineering you have studied, the day-to-day dress code may be more relaxed. However, when applying for a position you should always dress for the job you want. If that means you have to go out and buy a suit, do it! As Deion Sanders once said, “Look good, feel good, play good,” or in your case, interview good.
Master the art of selling yourself
The purpose of an interview is to allow employers to weed out the best candidates for a particular position. They do this by talking through each applicant’s skills, attributes and experiences. Use this opportunity to distinguish yourself from the other applicants. Remember, nobody likes a cocky or arrogant candidate. But you do want to make a lasting impression. Therefore, you must learn to master the art of selling yourself. Portray yourself as somebody who is intelligent and well prepared. Explain why your experiences make you the perfect candidate for the position. Lastly, people are naturally drawn to stories. Take this opportunity to tell the interviewer a story that demonstrates your skills and knowledge of the industry. Stories will also help to reinforce any examples.
Do your research
Prior to the interview, you should take time to learn about the company you are applying to. Start by visiting their website. If possible, speak with current employees about the company and environment. It’s also a good idea to visit the company’s LinkedIn profile. See what types of conversations or groups the company is involved in. LinkedIn is all about professional networking–use it to your advantage! I personally feel it’s appropriate to connect with anyone on LinkedIn that you would exchange business cards with in person.
Many graduates are intimidated by the thought of landing their first job; But the process can be easier than they may think if they keep these basic tips in mind. As I mentioned prior, there are a lot of factors involved in landing your first job. More importantly, be prepared to work hard and take a couple hits a long the way. Your first post-graduation job may not be your dream job, but it will certainly provide you with valuable work experience. Best of luck to all the college grads-and Godspeed!
Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology Inc., which is a manufacturer, designer, fabricator and distributor of T-slotted aluminum extrusion and accessories to both commercial industries and individuals.