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Ask James Caan – Issue 117

Written by Kimberley Startup | October 31, 2012 | 0 Comments

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear member,

According to the Telegraph, the latest industry figures show that only 6% of the UK engineering workforce is female: unchanged from 2001 and an increase of just 1% since 2008.

Yet in a field that advances every day, it’s critical for businesses to attract more women to engineering and give their company an edge. But what if you’re a female looking for an opportunity in engineering? How do you get your foot in the door of such a male dominated industry?

Take this example from Zayda, an industrial engineer specialising in manufacturing and logistics.

She tells me, having recently relocated to the UK, she is now seeking a new opportunity to further develop her engineering skills, but is unsure where to start.

Zayda, my advice to you, whatever your qualifications, background or sex, there has never been a greater time to look for opportunities within the engineering field.

Not just because you’ve chosen a lucrative career path that offers some of the best starting salaries, but also because in recent years, the UK has seen shortages in qualified engineers and there are still shortages in some disciplines, such as manufacturing and electronics.

But despite the shortages, getting a job in engineering can still be competitive. In fact, most of the well-known graduate employers attract a huge amount of applications. webrecruit receive on average, 236 applications per graduate/junior engineering role.

Therefore, Zayda, in order to succeed in today’s market, you must demonstrate your value that will ultimately put you ahead from your competition.

To begin with, let’s look at your CV. Engineering CVs can be more difficult to write than a regular resume, especially because engineering jobs are often technical while those doing the hiring are not. They want to see the details of your work history and skills, but it needs to be in terms that are understood wholly.

It’s important to remember when applying for vacancies, to tailor your CV to each position. You need to ask yourself two questions: what is the job I am applying for and is this piece of information relevant to me getting this job?

As an employer, I want to see how you personally have added value; what can you do for my business? So instead of listing duties on your resume, why not list your accomplishments?

One of the great things about your situation, Zayda, is the amount you have to offer potential employers – not just in terms of skills and qualifications. Your engineering experience gained within another country is invaluable for standing out from the crowd, as well as your fluency in two languages.

Many companies prefer bilingual applicants for certain positions, and you can increase your chances of securing a job by accurately describing your foreign language skills on your resume.

You mentioned you were seeking roles within the manufacturing and logistics sector. I suggest checking out some industry specific boards that cater to these types of roles, such as www.justengineers.net and www.engineeringjobs.co.uk.

I also suggest looking at www.mentornet.net and www.theukrc.org. These sites are dedicated to women aspiring to develop a career in engineering.

If you haven’t already, set up a profile on LinkedIn. Start by connecting with the top ten companies you’d like to work for and engage in discussions with other like-minded professionals.

Showcase all of what you can do through your talents, experience and areas of expertise and request recommendations that can be displayed on your profile. With a solid foundation you will be well positioned to raise your profile, engage with your connections and potentially land your next opportunity.

Does anyone else have any tips to help Zayda in her search for her next engineering opportunity? If so, why not share them with the group below?

Best,

James Caan

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