Early-Career Engineers: How to Allot Your Job Search Time

job hunt job search time management Jul 27, 2021
Mel Butcher, Mel Butcher's Underdog Engineers Blog

Check the blog for previous and subsequent tip posts.

Alright, in Tip #5 we discussed how you must NOT rely solely on online job applications for your job hunt. If you didn't catch that, review it here because it leads to what's next.

Today's tip is the hierarchy of how you should dedicate your job hunting efforts/time.

Essentially, when you're looking for a position, you want to use your time wisely by spending the majority of your time on things that will have the most effect on the outcome you're trying to create. My assumption here is that the outcome you're seeking is:

Landing an engineering role with a company you can be proud to work for, doing work that suits your skills and long-term career goals.

Notice that the assumption is *not that your goal is to "get a job" or to "land any job."

We're talking about your long-term professional life -- your career.

The base of the pyramid represents what should be the foundation of your job search, in other words - where you should be dedicating the majority of your time to reap the most long-term benefit for your career's future.

Let's start at the top and work our way down.

 

At the top, we have cold applications. By cold, I mean that you do not have a warm lead. You don't know anyone at the company, you have no connectivity at the company, so any application you do is a cold approach. You should spend the least amount of time in this category because it is the least likely to take you to your goal. Read more about the resume black hole here, and remember what the recruiter Ashley (from Arcadis) said when I interviewed her. Ashley indicated that they can receive hundreds of resumes for just 1 entry level engineering position. Do you really want to bet your time over and over on a 1 in several hundred chance?

Next down on the pyramid we have interacting with recruiters. This could be recruiters that recruit staff only for the companies they work for or third-party recruiters. By third-party I mean that they are contracted by organizations to find candidates for them (an example company that does this is Aerotek). The reason this is not closer to the bottom is because recruiters don't work for you. They work for the person who cuts their check. At the end of the day, their job is to fill the positions with the best candidate, not to put you on an upward path in your career. That's not to say you shouldn't get a job via a recruiter - that definitely might get you the right opportunity for your goals. However, it shouldn't be what you are totally reliant on; in other words it shouldn't be at the foundation of your time pyramid.

Then, we have networking with professional acquaintances. These acquaintances could be people you met at a conference, people you met through volunteering in a professional organization, or they could be professionals in your industry that a friend, family member, or professor introduced you to. These are people you should be actively staying in touch with in a friendly way (to maintain the relationship), but these are people to whom you should also make it clear that you're seeking a job and that you're open to their guidance, introductions to contacts, etc.

Finally, we're at the base of the time pyramid with your direct connections. These are people you know; they are people that know, like, and trust you. They have knowledge of your work ethic and passions. This is the foundation of your network where you should be continually building and nurturing. These are the folks whom you can and should be able to lean on most as you take steps along your professional journey.

And if you haven't started building this deep and wide cohort of professionals in your life, please, please, PLEASE, go and listen to my discussion with Mohini at this link. She seriously built her network from the ground up and she had to do it while job hunting in the midst of the pandemic.

Have a career question? Ask it here.

Doors close for the beta launch of the Underdog Engineers course on September 24, 2021. Use coupon code BETA for the best discount that will ever be offered. After the beta course, prices go to premium. 

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