Many graduating students are often intimidated by the thought of the first post-graduation job hunt. However, it is worth noting that the process can be easier than they think if they remember the basic job search rules. Below at ten rules that I have found to be helpful landing that dream first job to jump start your engineering career.
- Get out into the real world - An engineering internship or part-time co-op job tells employers that you have already experienced a real-world work environment and know what to expect.
- Network, network, network - Most grads land jobs through people they know — not by answering newspaper ads. So, make a list of your own contacts, such as professors, family and friends, and add to it by attending career fairs and other professional associations and activities.
- Have a superb resume - One of the most popular statement you hear when it come to job search is, “how does your resume compare to the rest of the resumes”. You should definitely create your resume to stand out from the other applicants. This can be achieved by precisely tailoring your resume to the job you are looking for, using pertinent keywords, listing relevant experience etc. See our articles on writing effective resumes and cover letters for additional tips and guidelines.
Other first-job related topics
- Showcase your grades - Grades are still important to potential employers, especially for first time engineering graduates. In my own experience, most employers look for a 3.0 GPA or better. Do not be discouraged if you have a GPA lower that that. If that is the case, make sure you are able to explain why.
- Research – Prior to the interview, take the time to learn about the company you are targeting by visiting its website. It is also a good idea to speak with current employees about the company. Using, tools such as LinkedIn, you can easily find a person working for subject company and strike a conversation with them.
- Use examples - During the interview, show interest in the company by asking open-ended questions which show that you are interested in the potential position. It will also do you a lot of good if you use specific examples from school or internships to answer questions about your experience. Do not be afraid to highlight your strengths and skills for the employer.
- Smile – It’s hard to smile when you are on the hot seat — but a smile during an interview shows enthusiasm for the position and the company. Potential employers might interpret a non-smiling face as a lack of interest.
- Show your thanks - A thank-you note following a phone or face-to-face interview reinforces your interest in the position and the company.
In my own opinion, your first job as an engineer is very crucial because it might determine where you end up in your professional life. The type of work you do right after college might interest you and cause you to specialize in that area in engineering. You should therefore be very careful where you are by making sure you analyze your long term objectives and those of the company and see exactly how the first years in that company will affect the rest of your professional life.