Finding a Job in an Unstable Economy: Coping with the Fears
by Jennifer Hartranft
Recession. Layoff. Reduction in Force. Downsizing. Hiring Freeze. These terms characterize the technical job market in many regions today. But despite the current seesawing economy and dim employment outlook, it's possible to land a great engineering job.
It may seem as though there are more engineers than there are job openings. But if you look at the big picture in staffing, it’s a great time to be an engineer. Your education and skills are both valuable and highly marketable. Even if you are a new engineer, you can find opportunities. In fact, some say not having experience can be an asset in today’s market.
The largest population growth in recent history occurred during the “baby boomer” era, from 1946 to 1964. Many of the workers in this age group are now nearing retirement. Long-term labor studies predict a drastic labor shortage by 2010. The logical conclusion seems to be that eventually, the technical work force will have to be replenished. Companies may have the experts now, but they need to maintain their expertise by filling gaps with experienced engineers. They also need to train their next-generation experts with new graduates, to sustain growth and ensure long-term success.
Job-Seeking Skills Are a Must — Do Your Research
Simply knowing the market won’t help you get a job, but if you add a measure of job-seeking skill to the mix, you will likely be working sooner, rather than later.
Research is absolutely critical to the job search process. Learn about the companies hiring, the positions available and the salaries offered. By finding out what you’re facing in the job market, you will be able to match what you can offer with what companies seek, making you a more marketable asset:
Unlike past IEEE-USA salary surveys, users will be able to take the new survey at any time, as well as update their user profile. The data collected will serve as the basis for the new IEEE-USA Salary Database, which will help employers to establish fair compensation for their technical professional employees.
Two other Internet sources might also help: www.salary.com shows compensation by industry, field and geographic region; the salary calculator at www.homefair.com provides cost-of-living data by region.
Critical Success Factors
Human resource personnel consider several “critical success factors” when they make hiring decisions. These include:
The economy might not be ideal right now, but companies continue to hire and are looking for engineers at all levels. With strong job-search skills, you may be able to find a job more easily than you think. As a technical professional, company leaders value your skills and education — and need them. So fret not; you’ll be employed before you know it.
Jennifer Hartranft, PHR, is the staffing manager at Spectrum Astro, a satellite manufacturer in Gilbert, Ariz.