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  • 1.  How Did You Find A Job? Networking vs. the "Perfect" Resume

    Posted 02-13-2020 02:31 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 02-13-2020 02:31 PM
    I have had some interesting recent discussions with several engineers - of many ages - related to finding a job. In the company of students, the discussion has been around wanting to get the "perfect" resume before approaching employers. There's also a thought that "I don't have a network."

    In a discussion with engineers with some experience who are job hunting, some of them only look at the job boards when they are looking for a new jobs, while others take a "networking first" approach. I even talked to a senior engineer who told me that every single one of his jobs came from his network.

    These discussions made me think about my own experience looking for my first job, where a classmate mentioned that the company she was going to work for was looking for other entry-level people, and offered to connect me with them. One phone interview later, I had an offer. (Of note: I am definitely an introvert, and also would have fallen into the category of 'I don't believe I have a network' as a student.) 

    So, I am starting this thread as a place to share your stories on how you found your "best" job (at least so far). How much of an effort did you put into networking versus creating the "perfect" documents (resume, cover letter, etc.)? 

    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineers Rising LLC

  • 2.  RE: How Did You Find A Job? Networking vs. the "Perfect" Resume

    Posted 02-14-2020 10:22 AM
    I have only had one engineering job, but I would say it was in-person interaction that got my foot in the door.
    Freshman year of college I was working the career fair, and the name tags we wore said our name and major. Mine said "Heidi Wallace, Civil Engineering."

    During a slower time slot of the fair I heard someone say "Wallace that's a civil engineer? We need to talk!" It was the then COO and now CEO of Wallace Engineering, a civil and structural firm. He told me about the company and what requirements they have for intern applicants. A few years later when I was ready to look for internships,I reached out and asked if they had any internship availability. He asked for my resume and we set up a phone interview. After a quick follow-up in person interview I accepted the internship and have been loving my job at Wallace since then.

    Although I had what I considered a great resume, so did a lot of other people. The in-person connection and initiative to follow-up made a bigger impact than just a resume.
    When I go to the career fair to recruit now, it is often the interaction that is a defining factor in our interest with so many impressive resumes. So for those college students concerned they don't have a network, you can still leverage those interpersonal skills with the company reps at the career fair.

    Side note: We have an Associate at our company that realized one day he never actually interviewed to work here. His friend had an internship and introduced him to her boss at a company function. He offered him an internship and, as he said, "I just kept coming back."

    Heidi Wallace EI, A.M.ASCE
    Engineer Intern
    Tulsa OK

  • 3.  RE: How Did You Find A Job? Networking vs. the "Perfect" Resume

    Posted 02-14-2020 05:46 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 02-14-2020 05:46 PM
    Stephanie, I'm one of those engineers in the networking category. Every one of the six jobs in my 50-year career was offered to me through my network. That being said, by "network" I don't mean just colleagues in professional associations. My government agency jobs (three jobs and the one I eventually retired from) were offered by clients. I also have permanently hired about 50% of the student interns who worked for me. This leads me to recommend students to seek out internships related to the field they want to work in and to work hard and make a good impression in these internships. My criteria for hiring interns was gauging their character and learning potential more than the technical skills they brought to the internship. Those who participated in association activities while interns earned "points" toward my positive impression. 

    For students or young engineers applying for jobs, IMHO the resume is the vehicle that gets you to the interview, not the job. Networking weighs in heavy on the reference side. A good reference from someone known and respected by the hiring employer through networking is worth much more than an unknown reference. 

    I did apply for two really high level jobs and spent hours on my resume, transmittal letter, etc. I didn't get either of these jobs, lol.  Maybe that explains my bias!  

    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL

  • 4.  RE: How Did You Find A Job? Networking vs. the "Perfect" Resume

    Posted 02-17-2020 11:50 AM
    Edited by Gregory Thein 02-18-2020 09:17 AM
    I would definitely agree with the importance of a network and connections.  A candidate who comes recommended by a current employee has a definite leg up over someone who is a complete unknown, all other things being equal.  A resume can tell about a candidate's qualifications (at least as they represent them) but not about intangibles ​like their ability to work with others.

    One exception to that rule is applying for positions with large companies.  Some use automated resume submittal and evaluation programs or the resumes are initially vetted by an HR person - not the manager who is looking to hire an employee.  The first phase of vetting resumes can be whether they 'check the boxes' for the strict definition of the job posting (like literally 5-10 years experience, not 4, and not 11).  For those situations a candidate needs to make sure their resume clearly spells out how they meet the specific needs and requirements being advertised.  Once you've initially made sure a resume covers those points, do some research on the company and make sure you highlight experience relative to their specific business - that will help get through the second gate.  Unfortunately networking and connections can mean a lot less for positions that are advertised and filled through a general cattle call process.

    One other slightly off-topic point.  Much has been made about the declining number of years employees spend in one job or with one company.  I think the average tenure is in the neighborhood of 5 years, less in some fields.  A resume that shows a candidate changing jobs every 2-3 years throws up red flags - at least to me.  While it may bring a variety of experiences, it may also be a red flag that they can't get along with others or that they are simply using every position as a stepping stone to the next company as opposed to contributing and sticking around to see things through.  A new company has to be questioning if this candidate will be walking out of THEIR door in 2-3 years.


    Greg Thein, PE
    Cleveland, OH

  • 5.  RE: How Did You Find A Job? Networking vs. the "Perfect" Resume

    Posted 02-18-2020 10:04 AM
    My best employment was at a State Agency for 21-years.  My resume got me in the door because they spotted something that didn't apply to the job I was applying for bur WAS something they needed.  My other jobs within the agency were partly by resume for minimum qualifications but also by networking for references.

    James Justin Mercier, P.E.
    Life Member ASCE
    Sr. Life Member IEEE
    Austin Texas