12 Answers Every Engineer Wish They Knew BEFORE College

Eyram Sotome June 25, 2015
6 people like this post

12 Job Hunting Answers Engineers Need to Know

As a young (or any type of) engineer, you wish you understood many questions BEFORE you had the situation.

Based of experiences and real-life case studies, let’s break it down.

Matter Where You Go to School

Does It Really Matter Where You Go to School?

Basically, no. 

Hypothetically, yes.

The reason why this could be an issue is because big schools give you a bigger network. Small schools give you a small network.

If you knew 10 people, those 10 people could find you work or opportunities.

But, if you know 100 people, those 100 people will definitely find you something (because you are 10x more likely to find work).

If you think the network is worth $100,000 worth of debt is up to you. At the end of the day, it all depends on how you use the network to get what you want.

As for engineering, the school doesn’t matter unless you want to get into business, politics or law. If not, just focus on the fundamentals of what motives you to do engineering. If you focus on what brought you there (whether it’s money or passion for creating things), you will do the work to make it. 

Do you care about what you do? Your network will only depend on that.

Focus. 

Your school won’t matter.

How To Stand Out From Other Candidates

How Do I Make Myself Stand Out From Other Candidates?

In order to stand out, you need to show your unique qualities that make you different from the other applicants. The problem for most employers is that they don’t see any qualities about you through your resume because you don’t describe them.

That is why, even though you may be a great candidate, your resume may not come through because it simply doesn’t show your personal qualities that could help the employer’s business.

So, focus on one quality that makes you different.

How do you do that? Take anything that you showed someone, ask yourself why you showed it to them and why you thought you could do it better than the other person.

Take that quality and add it to every experience related to the qualification that you are applying for.

Repeat and conquer (until you can clearly see that you look like a pro at “____” because of our one quality.

That will make you stand out.

If you are having a problem determining what your quality is, just take a personality test. You will find 1 quality no matter what you take.

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What Entry Level Positions to Focus On

What Kind Of Entry Level Positions Should I Focus On?

You need to look for places that have demand, not just any old place. Job hunting is hard because people don’t know where the demand is.

Big companies always have a demand because they want fresh ideas, people are retiring and they want to be ahead of the game. Small companies only have a demand when they have a need for a specific role or are growing and would like to scale their processes.

So, in order to determine where the positions that are the MOST likely to hire you are, you need to dig into the minds of those that are hiring and their industry.

This is why industry magazines, conferences and others are good because they help you focus on what is important for the person you are applying for.

What Approach Towards My Job Search?

What Is The Best Approach Towards My Job Search?

The best type of approach is to:

1) Focus on the interests of the company that you are interested in

The more you know about a company, the more you can demonstrate to them that you actually care about them. Whether it is being in industry or at school, your way of communication will lead you to the results you want. However, that result can only come from how you USE what you know.

Target, tactics, and timing is the key. Define your objective, and go after it.

2) Focus on your “Father” and the relationship you have with him.

If you care about your parents, treat the person you will be reaching out to the same.

This will help both sides, giving the mentor an opportunity to teach you and you, being able to adapt to anything using their methods.

Focus on being the two parties to a common agreement. If you can’t help them, they can’t help you.

So, help them and they will help you.

Being a Foreigner Increase Difficult To Find Job?

Does Being A Foreigner Increase The Difficulty To Find A Job?

No. It’s doesn’t increase the difficulty, just the time it takes.

However, if you use the “Jab, Jab, K.O.” technique, meaning you are feeling them good information about yourself as a candidate early on, it will make it less likely for them to hire you when you tell them you have a visa problem because, after seeing both your expertise and what you can bring to the company, they would be willing to invest in you or at least, out of respect, will send you somewhere that would do it for you.

How To Control Nervousness In Interview?

How Can I Control My Nervousness In A Interview?

There are 3 reasons why you are nervous:

1) You don’t know the person

2) You think that the person is judging everything about you 

3) You are nervous (meaning lack of confidence)

Just because these reasons exist doesn’t mean that you can’t control your nervousness during an interview.

Here are the tips you need to succeed:

1) You are nervous because the person is a stranger. 

2 days before your interview, go outside and say hi to random people on the street. 

Day 1: Conquer the fear of unknown people.

Smile and wave your hand while saying hi.

Observe their reactions and tell them “enjoy your day” as you are leaving.

Make sure to be genuine. Don’t do it because I told you so. Do it because those people care enough about you to help you with this exercise. Make friends when you see they stop for you.

If stopped, tell them what you are doing (meaning you are scared for an interview) and ask them for advice. They would be more than happy to give you one tip.

Repeat until you have enough good advice (I’d say 5-10 tips). Write each of them and review for the next day.

Day 2: Develop the skill of “conversation”

Using the notes you have from day 1, start conversations with strangers.

The key is to build your confidence while talking to others about what you know.

Say hi, tell them “I have a question”, then tell them what you are doing and if they know about the topic you are interviewing for. 

If so, great. Ask them for advice.

If not, great. Tell them about what you are doing and one fun fact that could help them in their daily lives. Thank them before leaving and ask them if they know anyone in that field. 

Someone will know.

2) The person is judging you because they don’t know you. 

The point of the interview is to see if the interviewer can live with you as a co-worker.

Forget about technical skills. People are biased at the interview because they won’t hire a weirdo.

So, focus on getting to know the interviewer and why they choose to work at the company. If they are the boss, why did they get into this field. 

Ask questions about who influenced them, what were the difficulties they had and what they expect from me as an employee.

Then, show your technical skills through selected experiences that you prepared to tell them. I can make up experiences on the fly but prepared experiences are good because they let you be confident about what you are saying.

Remember that you want to be their friend. Don’t try too hard. 

Focus on how you could be friends with yourself if you interviewing someone like you. Then, teach them how to deal with you when you have your weaknesses.

Technical Skills + Personal Skills = Trust In You

3) You are nervous because you think your skills aren’t good enough or your skills aren’t enough compared to the person that is interviewing you 

If someone put an ad to hire someone for a business, it is because they want someone to do what they do.

They know that it is rare to find someone who does EXACTLY what they do.

So, they need to train you.

The question for them is: How much training do you need?

That is the true question.

You are nervous because you think that you require 100% of training when you only need 40%.

You aren’t confident because you fear that the knowledge the interviewer has will decrease how smart you look.

Simply, you are sure you will look dumb. Not true.

Just because you don’t know EXACTLY what they want doesn’t mean you can’t teach them something new.

The more you teach them, the more knowledge they will gain and the better they will be confident in you. If you teach them, they will have confidence in you and you will be confident to talk to them.

So, how do you teach them?

Remember what are you doing this for…

You are working to be able to help the manager do their job better. 

If you help them to do business stuff better, they will hire you even if the technical isn’t 100% on point. 

So, focus on helping the manager do less work. Help them to do less work on the things they shouldn’t be working on, so THEY can do more of the bigger picture things.

Ex. If a manager works as an electrical engineer, they will need to read schematics and draw new ones. Offer them to draw their schematics so they (and you tell them this) can focus on coordination meetings and the actual construction of the project.

By helping them realize they don’t need to be doing that work, you are putting yourself in a position where they need you to make the work easier. Tell them how much money and time they save by hiring you.

Overall, focus on their problem. If you focus on the company’s problems instead of yours, nervousness won’t be a problem. 

Be awesome like that!

What Questions Do They Ask In Interviews?

What Kind Of Questions Will They Ask During An Interview?

The best way to understand what they will ask is understanding the foundation (meaning why they are asking those questions).

There are 5 key components:

Strengths – What are you good at (or what is your purpose for being there)

Weaknesses – What the manager has to deal with

Leadership – How to get the company out of a jam

Technical – Your process to solve issues

Culture – Do they want to work with you forever? What will they hate about you?

All these questions must be answered from the interviewer’s point of view.

Remember, if you can’t think like the manager, you can’t make their life easier.

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Get access to the ultimate job hunter toolkit and community + Get weekly tips to get the most out of it!

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Should I Exclude From Resume Information Not Related to Job

Should I Exclude From My Resume Information That’s Not Related To the Job?

It depends on what you mean by “not related”.

If you mean what is obvious when they see the resume, then yes.

If you mean what you can show them is relevant at the interview, then no

Your résumé is just a piece of paper that tells if you are a waste of time or not.

—————————— EXAMPLE —————————————

For example, Imagine you have a problem with your computer.

The Internet doesn’t work. You have no connections with people that fix computers.

There is a newspaper next to you. What will you do? 

Look at the newspaper.

Now, as you are looking at the newspaper, you notice there is a resume section under “computers”.

Flip! There a ton of resumes that you have to look at!!

Which one will you choose?

No clue. At this point, when there are a ton of resumes, you will use factors to decrease the number of resumes that you have to look at.

” Forget that. I want someone that can do this fast. I need to use my computer!”

Now, this person is looking for the person that has the 24hr guarantee.

See? Does experience matter at this point? No. 

You want speed as your dominant factor. Everyone, no matter what they do, has the same experience now. It isn’t that experience doesn’t count, but the value of experience decreases.

We are aiming for those factors!

The power to influence people’s hiring decisions is through positioning.

The ability to match what the person is expecting is what we need to aim for. 

So, if we expect how he will make his decisions, the chances that they won’t choose us will decrease significantly.

This is what I called the “Sidestep” technique. (Other names: Sidedoor, Glassdoor, Backdoor)

By using your ability to “sidestep” experience, you are able to see what is truly needed to get a job: convenience.

Positioning, research and attacking head on the problem is much more effective than traditional methods of applying without any idea of how you are going to convince them that you are the best.

Working backward helps you to focus on what is important. 

Sidestepping, even in sports, has been a proven technique for bypassing opponents.

So, use it!

Does GPA Affects Job Search?

Does GPA Really Affect My Chances To Get A Job?

No. It has no influence on your getting a job. 

It only has on influence on the way a company tries to eliminate you.

If you have a high GPA, great. You can apply to all the companies you want. 

This doesn’t mean you will get a job from any of them. 

Actually, having a low GPA increases your chances of getting a job.

Fewer companies. More job opportunities.

You can focus on the jobs that are most important and eliminate the rest from your vocabulary. That will save you at least 80% of your time to focus on those jobs that require you to do more or get the necessary experience to do the job.

Here is the Sharp Shooter strategy to getting any job with a low GPA:

1) Forget your GPA 

It doesn’t matter. Get over it. It doesn’t need attention.

2) Prioritize Projects

Make a calendar. Work on 3 projects in 1 week using the least about of time possible. Look for “quick win” projects in the field of your choice to fill up your résumé.

The project should take 1-2 hours per day.

Focus only on the completion of the project and the steps to do it.

Around 2-3 should be enough.

Arrange your projects so it works on the following skills:

Leadership: Have 2 friends help you and you show them what to do thorough research on the subject. Make the project difficult, ask experts for advice and focus on helping them succeed at what tasks you’ve given them.

Technical: Research only the processes it takes to do a particular skill. Only focus on the process.

Understand, not what the stuff means, but how they link together.

Make a mindmap. Practice memorizing the process of 10 key parts of the job 15-20 minutes a day, focusing on what the word in the bubble is, why they use it and what are the problems with it.

If you don’t know something, go online, type “engineering companies, skill needed” and call a company. Ask for the head of that department. If he’s not in, ask a person you see on the website. If the receptionist asks you why you are calling, say you have a question regarding [skill needed] on one of the projects they are working on. 

If no access, try again the next day. Sound genuine and actually care about what they are working on.

Strengths: Emphasis on what you do best after the 2 weeks. 

If you like being a worker, state that.

If you like being a leader, state that too.

Then, go in-depth, explaining why you are better at the preferred position and what you can do to increase the productivity of the opposite position (since you worked both, you know the pains of each position. Exploit them to show them that you are qualified to help them with their problems using your solutions)

Weaknesses: Be honest about your weaknesses. Hone them before applying.

 Using the experience from the project to remember what you got mad at your friends about. If you didn’t get mad, check what made you work past 2 hours. 

Then, repeat the cycle next week, but swap roles. In 2 weeks, you will know how to manage and how to be the worker.

If you didn’t finish the project in 2 weeks, note all of your failures and do it again. Fix all the mistakes and use your notes to tell about all the problems you resolved after your project.

3) Arrange your resume to focus on what you give, not what you can’t 

If the résumé isn’t showing all that you’ve learned during the 2 weeks, you got a problem.

Make sure you highlight all of the above as a functional résumé, rather than a chronological, focused on your strengths and what you can give them.

Explain in a cover letter (targeted to the broad range in that industry) exactly what you did (meaning bootstrapping engineering) to work for them. Also, mention people in the company that was a great inspiration to you and how you found them (LinkedIn is the best option for this).

Send the letter by mail first, since it is an unconventional way of showing you care about the company (for small ones). Most small companies aren’t recognized and look down on themselves as inspirational. Remind them why you are inspired by the work they do and how they do it. 

Then, appear at the office around closing hours. People are more relaxed around that time and would let you in if you are nice to them. For buildings that have security access or a doorman, ask the company where the company is located and tell them you have a meeting with the person you’d like to meet. When there is no access, note what you can about the desk and retry with a new strategy.

The whole point is to show your face more than once. Show them that, despite your GPA, you can prove to them that you are a good candidate.

If the company is too far away, show them what you know through YouTube video & constant contact with the company about current projects.

Is Being Sales Engineers Good?

Is There A Problem In Being A Sales Engineer?

If you are a sales engineer, congratulations. 

If you aren’t, congratulations too.

The ability to sell is just the ability to convince someone that what you have is valuable.

The real question is “Do you think what you are selling is valuable?”. If you don’t, find anything that interests you about what you are selling.

Explore that topic. Then, keep talking about it to that person until you are tired.

How To Get Second Interview?

How Can I Get To A Second Interview?

Tip 1: Confidence

Look them in the eyes, talk clearly and be direct in your answers. 

Confidence is 80% of the interview process because it means you can defend yourself when someone yells at you.

Tip 2: Experience or Relevant Experience

Take any (and every) experience that you have, whether it is related to the topic or not, and MAKE IT RELATED. The point is to prove you can help the manager in the position do his job easier. Most people get confused in this part because they feel they have nothing to share.

Not true. Every person on this earth has experience doing any job. 

It’s just a matter of connecting the dots!  Q=(‘ .’Q)

Tip 3: Qualifications

If you meet all the qualifications they ask for, great. You’re in.

If you don’t meet all the qualifications, you need to prove extra meat (meaning explanation) as to why they should hire you. 

It is not impossible.

Anyone can bet people with hirer GPAs than them (I am living proof!) just as long as you tell them that:

1) GPA is not an indicator of how you will perform on the job. People cheat to have good GPAs 

2) You focus on the value of honesty and hard work. Give them specific examples of when you overcame difficult situations like making use of $5 to make $20 to take a cab to get home.

3) You fit with the company. Explain what you’ve done to make it here and what the job means to you.

Remember that the second interview shows that you can beat their prerequisites and are cool enough to work for their company. If you can’t do that or aren’t sincere, they can see it.

How To Get Experience Needed Job Without Experience

How Can I Get An Experienced Needed Job Without Experience?

To get an “experience needed job” without experience, you need to prove to the person that it is worth it to them to hire you. So, the real question is how do (and in what way) you sell yourself so the employer hires you.

Step 1: Tell them you are not experience 

Beast honestly never fails. When you tell them you are not qualified for the job, they realize that too. However, what you don’t realize is what the power of an “underdog” story has on an employer.

Step 2: Tell them you are cheaper than someone who is experienced but what you can offer is more worth it to them

This is where the small vs. big company conflict comes into play. If you are dealing with the owner or a manager with a high position in the company, you can position yourself to show that a lower investment with high potential is better than someone that they pay lots of money and don’t know their full capabilities.

If your capabilities are shown to them through your work, you can increase your salary to someone with a high level of experience because of YOUR EFFORTS rather than a piece of paper.

For more details, see how my Uncle Esso got hired for an Engineering position even though he wasn’t an engineer (and how he beat 17 people who applied for the job using 1 simple strategy). [Coming Soon…]

Let’s Do More Together.

Thank you for reading this guide.

This is only the beginning.

You can get even more detailed answers to these questions with clear explanations of how to actually put this guide into action, how I applied it myself and the outcomes.

Just click here to get your 10 detailed answers in audio format!

I’ll be answering any questions that you may have about it, just email me at eyram@plusengineer.com

What other questions did I miss that you would like answered? Any comments? Let me know below!

Category: Job Hunting
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Eyram Sotome

I like helping those who need help. Kind of like superman without the tights. To put it simply, you are in the right place. Thanks for reading.

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Comments (29 people commented this post)

  • avatar image

    Alfred

    January 13, 2018 Reply
    Very Helpful!!
  • avatar image

    Tapiwa Chikuni

    March 23, 2016 Reply
    spot on article
  • avatar image

    Abbas

    March 8, 2016 Reply
    After reading this article I can surely say I wish I knew the answers to these questions before college. Anyways Thanks! it was an amazing article.
  • avatar image

    James

    March 7, 2016 Reply
    Thanks for another great article! I don’t know that I completely agree with your statement the GPA doesn’t matter. I think having a good GPA is critical for your FIRST job if you don’t have any work experience. Your GPA is the company’s only real indicator of your ability. A poor GPA is not necessarily a deal breaker, but a good GPA is helpful. Some companies have minimum GPA requirements for potential candidates. After your first job I think experience is all that’s important… GPA is really of no importance after that.
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      March 7, 2016 Reply
      Well, it is a relative statement to the person who is reading. Someone who had a good GPA and got a job won't say GPA doesn't matter. On the other hand, a person with a terrible GPA who proved himself will say that it doesn't matter. In either case, the point of the article is to highlight to the confidence required to tackle real world problems whether it is your job hunt, a project, or any other endeavors. Most of us come out of school thinking things are given to us. However, the more we realize nothing is guaranteed, the greater our resilience and the more control we have of our future.
      • avatar image

        James

        March 7, 2016 Reply
        I agree that confidence is key!! Thanks!
  • avatar image

    realist

    October 26, 2015 Reply
    How about "did you know the US government does not want US Citizens to work, so get an H1B visa to get a job as an engineer?" US Citizens don't know this, and can't find work.
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      October 26, 2015 Reply
      I don't know who is this realist but I know one thing: You don't understand the point of this article.
  • avatar image

    Tom

    October 21, 2015 Reply
    You have really inspired me. Really I don't know how I stumbled and got myself into this group. But I've learnt a lot from you. Thanks to you I have my first ever job. And thankfully I didn't have to stay home after school and my national service. God bless you ???
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      October 21, 2015 Reply
      Just happy to help bro. Keep up the fight to be a plusengineer!
  • avatar image

    Daisy Mumia

    July 17, 2015 Reply
    Thank you Eyram for this well put together and thoughtful post. I found it quite refreshing and feel motivated.
  • avatar image

    Aravind

    February 15, 2015 Reply
    Really appreciate what you are doing to help out so many people Sir.I see many websites which asks us to shell out money for getting to know the info which you have just shared ,so hats off to you for taking your time in doing this.Thank you so much.
  • avatar image

    Emad Alghweir

    February 4, 2015 Reply
    I am a third year electronic engineering technology student and I don't have a very good GPA. I have basic knowledge of everything that I have had learned and am looking for an internship right now in electronic engineering. I was wondering if you can take a look at my resume? I like taking your good advice like always and the amazing job you do! Thanks, Emad Alghweir CSULB Junior
  • avatar image

    Eric B

    November 15, 2014 Reply
    Eyram, I am an Executive Recruiter with some engineering background (long ago). This is a great site - you are doing a great service to your fellow engineers. If I may add something; understand that as an "entry level" candidate understand that you will be offered entry level positions. If something is presented to you look at it closely, sometimes those entry level jobs can turn into more. But we all must be willing to pay our dues. Great work here - very impressive.
  • avatar image

    Matt Johnston

    November 6, 2014 Reply
    At the end of Question 9, you tell us that if the company is too far away that we should show them what we know through YouTube. Could you please elaborate on what you mean by that and I don't know how I would keep in contact with a company that is far away. Thank you for your help!
  • avatar image

    Nicole

    November 1, 2014 Reply
    Hi Eyram, thanks for the post. I was just wondering if question 4's first point was complete. There seems to be an incomplete sentence..."Whether it is being in industry"
  • avatar image

    samuel

    November 1, 2014 Reply
    Great tips!!!!will surely save a soul.
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      November 1, 2014 Reply
      Soul saving is the plan. Beastin out is my drive. Keeping everyone encouraged is the key focus. Remember to use what you've learned to reduce stress and increase productivity, Samuel. That's the way to grow ;)
  • avatar image

    Maged T

    November 1, 2014 Reply
    Nicely put Eyram. I have a request, can you please help us put our hands on cheap ( better yet free) engineering resources, softwares, and tools: Autocad, Solidwork, ASHRAE books. The purpose of this is to beef up our skills with practical resources that is required in the market. It will be really appreciated .. Keep up the good work my friend :) .. Be awesome.
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      November 1, 2014 Reply
      Hey Maged! Long time no see bro ;) That sounds like a great idea to pursue. If we could batch process the learning curve to those things (meaning simplifying the process to learning industry standards), the job hunt becomes so much easier because we can adapt to anything. I'll look into it!
    • avatar image

      James

      March 7, 2016 Reply
      You can get free student versions of AutoCAD (or any other Autodesk software) if you have a .edu email address.
  • avatar image

    Mohamed KHALED

    November 1, 2014 Reply
    Awesome.
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      November 1, 2014 Reply
      No... Thank YOU for being awesome. You read this. That a lot of work in itself :)
  • avatar image

    stanley

    November 1, 2014 Reply
    am impressed. thanks alot
    • avatar image

      Eyram Sotome

      November 1, 2014 Reply
      I'm impressed that you are impressed. I'll keep focusing on getting better though. Thanks for the encouragement!
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