With your education coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about finding your first engineering job!
But even with the UK’s engineering skills shortage, it can still be difficult to find yourself an entry level position to kickstart your career.
So how can you make your CV stand out when you’re applying for graduate engineering jobs? And what steps can you take now to give yourself the best chance when you’re applying?
Luckily for you, our recruiters have brainstormed these top tips to help you land your first engineering job after you graduate:
In such a competitive job market, the more relevant experience you can get on your CV the better.
If you’re lucky enough to live with your parents, make the most of the summer holidays by working with a local company for minimum wage or, if you can afford the commute, you could take an unpaid internship with a larger firm.
While these will still be difficult to get, and you will be giving up your time off, it’s worth it in the long run as future employers will see that you have real-world experience.
The bonus of building relationships this way is that when you graduate, they may have a full time position you can apply for. And, as you’re already up to speed with their systems, you’ll be in a better position than other candidates applying for the role.
If you’re planning on going straight into a graduate position as soon as you finish university then you’ll need to have done a lot of work beforehand.
Alongside the obvious step of passing your course with a minimum of a 2:1, it makes a huge difference if you’ve spent your entire university career turning yourself into the perfect graduate scheme candidate!
Alongside those summer jobs and internships, it’ll also help to find yourself a placement position as a part of your course.
Employers don’t just look for work experience though - they want to know that you work well as part of a team, and can interact with other human beings! So make sure you make the most of extra-curricular clubs and societies to show that you’re a responsible, and employable, young adult.
By all means apply to the big graduate schemes the top firms run - you may be one of the lucky ones who’s offered a position!
But don’t limit your search to the larger companies.
There are thousands of small firms up-and-down the country that can give you real world experience and a great start to your engineering career, but that don’t have a queue of graduates asking for a job.
At larger companies, hands on experience tends to be left to the employees with more time in the business, but when you work for a smaller firm there’s normally plenty of opportunities to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into a bigger challenge, which will help with your experience in the long run.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
It may sound cliché, but networking really can open doors to new opportunities.
When you’re looking for your first engineering job, it’s worth speaking to everyone you can to let them know you’re looking for a position.
You’ll be surprised how many times a friend-of-a-friend, a long-lost uncle or the person sat next to you at the pub is looking for someone with your skills, so make sure you’re talking to everyone about what you’re doing and the type of job you’re looking for!
When you’re applying for jobs it’s tempting to send a generic CV and cover letter to the positions in order to save time, but this can have a negative effect on your applications.
While it does take a lot more time, tailoring each application to the job description will give you the best chance of getting an interview.
Take the opportunity to show the recruiters how you’re the perfect candidate for the role by applying examples from your experience to the requirements laid out in the job description, and explaining any relevant experience you have in your cover letter.
When you’re first starting out in your career, it can be difficult to find a position looking for your limited level of experience.
But if you don’t have working experience, you can still show you have the skills they need by including details about hobbies and clubs you participate in.
Expanding on the work you did in the Formula Student team, or the CAD drawings you did as a personal project can show employers that you have the skills they’re looking for, even if that experience isn’t from a previous job.
While career fairs are often thought of as free-for-alls where candidates spam potential employers with their CVs, they can be a great opportunity to build a relationship with someone involved in the hiring process.
By having genuine conversations with the people on the stands, you can stand out as someone who’s not just interested in selling yourself to them as a great candidate.
Ask them questions about the role, but also ask what they like about working at the company, and find out more about their role within the business.
If you end up speaking to the person who will eventually be your line manager, imagine how much you’ll stand out compared to other candidates if you’ve built up a good rapport with them!
Getting your CV into the hands of a specialist recruiter can really help you in finding your first position.
They’ll be able to give you advice about where your CV needs some work, if you need to go into more depth with the experience you have, or if it’s too broad for a specialist position.
They’ll also be able to sell you to potential employers, so it’s good to get to know the person you’re dealing with so they can get an idea of what you’re looking for and the type of roles you want to apply for.
You’ll still need to keep applying by yourself, but having a recruiter working on your behalf is a great way to find new opportunities that may not have been marketed yet.
Sometimes applying for jobs can be disheartening - it feels like you’re spending all your time working on sending out applications, but you never seem to hear anything back.
It can be difficult but keep going!
Try and reverse engineer reasons why your application isn’t getting picked up, and make subtle changes to address those problems.
We know it can be tough, but try not to lose hope.
Your first job is out there somewhere!
If you need help finding your first engineering job then why not upload your CV so we can try to find the perfect role for you?