Career Moves: Back to Basics

Sarah Taylor, Recruitment and Sales Manager at OSL Consulting, has over 20 years' experience in recruiting both contract and permanent roles within the engineering sector. Actively involved in the engineering community, she has hosted workshops and supported many engineers seeking employment. In a new series below, she offers her expertise and guidance on all things job related, from CV essentials to interview tips and tricks. In this first part, she looks at how you can take those first steps towards securing a new role.

Feeling stuck at the starting line? Perhaps you are a recent graduate starting out, or an experienced engineer looking for a new challenge. Whatever the situation, when you’re looking for a job in engineering you need to stand out from the crowd.

I am a seasoned, engineering recruitment specialist with a passion for what I do. I am practised at analysing applications, leading interviews and finding lasting matches. I know what makes a candidate successful in an increasingly competitive arena. Times are changing, but some things stay the same: having a solid CV, nailing the interview; and not selling yourself short continue to be of vital importance.

Helping engineering talent flourish is a big driver for me. Whether working with a graduate or a senior in their field I am driven to achieve the right fit for both individual and organisation.  Through my associations with IChemE I have had the pleasure of delivering careers workshops and offering guidance through my university and sub-group contacts.

The following advice is given to help you best position yourself to secure that next career move. In my experience, having a plan of action can make all the difference.

Back to basics

First things first, start with the search. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s important that you know what you’re looking for. This may be easier for some than it is for others, but pinning it down to salary expectations, location, and even sector is important in streamlining the job application process.

Think about whether you want a contract or permanent role – whichever it may be, there are specialist job websites that can make your search much easier, with options to search by job title, skill or company alongside location, cutting search time and allowing you to find jobs suitable to your experience and qualifications. The contract market is a particularly fast-paced environment and the job search for this type of role is usually done through an agency but can be done directly. When choosing an agency, be sure to seek a reputable one: these people are going to be selling your skills, so do your homework and ensure they have the right industry knowledge and expertise.

Making connections

Alongside this, I would recommend making professional, direct applications and enquiries. Is there a company that you like the sound of? Make contact! Companies love proactive individuals, so put out the feelers and ask if there are any opportunities available. HR or technical line managers are the key contacts you want to get in touch with. Even if there aren’t any current vacancies, taking charge of your job search will put you in good stead, and you never know what links or referrals you may get from this kind of contact; in my experience, it really pays off.

LinkedIn is another great tool which I strongly advise you take advantage of. It’s free to sign up to and is a great platform to sell yourself, engage with the industry and search for opportunities. Sign up online and include all qualifications, relevant experience and a short bio about yourself. Start connecting with different companies to find out more about them; their LinkedIn activity can give you a real feel for the sort of organisation you could be working for. By connecting with a company on LinkedIn you can find out a lot of information that could be used in the application process, who they employ, their current contracts and any news or events they are involved in.

Don’t lose sight

Still not sure where to start? If you’re a recent graduate, careers fairs are a fantastic way to gain insight into the industry. You will be able to meet key individuals from an organisation and chat to them about opportunities, company culture and form initial relationships. Experienced old timer? Networking events are your haven – as a two-way type of event, they allow you to meet key industry players and potential employers. Ask all the questions you like and be ready with your sales pitch.

By taking these small steps you will be well on your way to securing your next role. Next time, I'll discuss the all-important CV: the A4 piece of paper on which your future depends. Or does it? Find out more next time.

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