Hey, you did it!
You finally graduated, and now you are ready to find a job and start the journey of life!
That was my thought, too, after graduation and passing my F.E. exam. Sadly, my enjoyment was short because COVID-19 broke out, a situation that made me more discouraged about my career opportunities. And to make things worse, companies were either having hiring freezes and/or laying people off.
Yet, I GOT HIRED!
That being the case, and based on my own experience, I would like to share seven useful tips that helped me make that possible.
- Always have a resume available
Create several resumes. I suggest you have a general resume, as well as resumes that match each job description or discipline you are applying for. Also, have a cover letter that most accurately depicts your added value in terms of skills and strengths. Cover letters are important to differentiate you as an outstanding candidate.
You can read more about resumes here.
- Be active on LinkedIn
Start to build your profile with a professional headshot. Fill out the sections about educational, work and volunteering experiences and skills. This will create a wholesome image of you. Also, post about yourself – what you are passionate about – and show your connections that you are up to date with the industry. Share with them your life lessons learned.
Most importantly, get out of your comfort zone. Reach out to professionals from your industry and do not hesitate to ask them for advice, informational interviews, resume reviews or even tips about job opportunities.
Learn more about LinkedIn here.
- Grow your network
Networking will get your resume seen, either directly or indirectly through referrals from one professional to another. Societies like ASCE provide a great environment for self-development and for meeting people within the industry and even from your geographical proximity.
- Look for professional development opportunities
Your job now is to find a job, which means staying up to date with the industry as well as constantly learning.
Focus on the key technical skills required of an engineer. Watch for anything that can potentially advance your career or just facilitate your daily tasks. You could also sign up for a Toastmasters club and practice public speaking and presentations.
If there is an upside to the pandemic, it is all the extra time, which when utilized properly can provide an excellent opportunity to prepare and take care of licensures, and exams such as the F.E. exam. Take the exam if you have not done so.
- Know where to apply
As I mentioned above, many firms have hiring freezes right now, so they probably won’t be reaching out to people as much. So, you should take the initiative and reach out to their recruiters after you have applied. Follow up on the status of your application.
Also, apply for projects that have a higher probability of continuity during a pandemic, and always be open to all kinds of experiences. Anything is better than nothing.
- Have a mentor
You may not know it until you are in it, but having a higher-level engineer’s opinion on how you are managing your career can make a huge difference in handling your resume, your applications, your network and your future plans.
- Never stop applying
The best way to not win a game is by not playing. This applies to getting a job, too.
Don’t be discouraged to apply. It is logical for companies to look for unique talents.
Thus, the process takes time, and now it will be even longer. But you are definitely on the right path.
I will conclude by saying that struggling to find a job is normal, and it is OK to feel what you are feeling. I have been there too.
That’s why I will tell you, do NOT give up! I wish you all the best of luck.
Hala Abdo, E.I.T., A.M.ASCE, is a drainage and road engineer in training with FAM Construction LLC on the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, in Virginia near Washington, D.C.
She earned a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Jordan, where she was an active member of the ASCE student chapter as a social media team leader and board member. Now she is a member of the ASCE National Capital Section. She enjoys social media management, professional networking and volunteering.#COVID19
Follow her on LinkedIn