Over the course of your engineering career, there may come a time where you feel you’re at a standstill and aren’t progressing as you expect. While many engineers are happy and content in their roles, others aspire to climb the career ladder and enter managerial and leadership positions. If this sounds like you, it may be time to change your focus and push yourself out of your comfort zone to gain new skills and credentials to boost your career prospects.
While we’re currently living in uncertain times due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are things engineers can do to boost their resume and open more doors, so here are some ways you can accelerate your engineering career today.
Plan Out Your Career
Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to climb the career ladder, the last thing you should do is rush into anything. As an engineer, you will understand the importance of being meticulous and logical with your work, which is why it’s a surprise to learn how many engineers don’t take the time to properly map out their careers. Taking time every couple of months to analyze where you are and what career interests you most will ensure you take the right steps to achieve your goals.
If you decide to go back into education, you will be putting a lot of your time, effort, and money into your course, so taking things slow and planning your next steps carefully is key for success.
Build Your Resume
After you have your career plan finalized, you need to build your resume to ensure it stands out from others in the same boat as you. In today’s world, it’s unlikely that an engineer will stay with one company for their whole career. So, if you want to move up the career ladder and command a higher salary, your resume must reflect who you are, your experience and credentials, and how you are the perfect fit for the position.
Many employers don’t have the time or patience to read through every detail of a resume, which is why you need to get straight to the point and show everything you’re capable of, rather than just listing it. Also, try not to be too generic with your wording on your resume, otherwise employers may throw it away quicker than you think. The engineering world is a competitive market, especially for leadership roles. Therefore, taking plenty of time to plan out your resume is a must.
Develop Your Skillset
There are all kinds of skills you should already have in place as an engineer. Whether it’s knowing how to problem solve, work well under pressure, or communicate effectively, these are common transferable skills that employers look for in candidates. For engineers who want to enter managerial roles, you will need to demonstrate excellent teamwork and leadership skills to be taken seriously. If you can’t show examples of you guiding a team towards success, you can’t expect employers to take your application any further.
Developing a wide skillset can help you in all aspects of your professional and personal endeavors, as well as build confidence and self-esteem. As you learn new skills, make sure you include them on your resume to help you stand out.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
To accelerate your engineering career, you need to be prepared to work hard and do tasks that others refuse to do. In your existing role, if your boss asks for a colleague to volunteer to do something, make sure that you put yourself forward no matter what it is. Showing to your boss that you’re willing to go the extra mile can be helpful in many ways, especially if you want to move up the ranks within the business. After all, pay raises and promotions are usually given to those who go above and beyond their duties.
Even if you don’t like the idea of a particular task, try and look towards the end goal which should keep you focused. While the fear of the unknown may fill you with dread, you may pick up key skills and experience that can help you when applying for jobs.
Find a Mentor
In the engineering world, it can be hard to know what path to take and how to exactly get where you want. If you’re struggling to move forward, you may benefit from finding a coach or mentor who can help manage your career. Make sure you find a mentor who has many years of experience in helping engineers similar to you. You will find that the best mentors are great motivators and will transform your way of thinking.
Your mentor will help you identify what knowledge and skills you will need to progress, and they will encourage and empower your personal development. While you may have disagreements along the way, you need to remember that your career mentor is qualified in their field and will know what path you should take.
For engineers who want to manage others or be their own boss, you will need to obtain the relevant qualifications to progress any further. Many engineers embark on an MBA (Master of Business Administration) run by industry experts and seasoned academics. Click here to find out more about the course and how it can benefit you. Once you’ve completed your course, you can display it on your resume which will boost your potential and open you up to more career opportunities. Many engineers who complete an MBA go into roles like managerial accounting, financial management, marketing management, and international business.
If you decide to go back into education, make sure you pick a course that matches your career goals, and look into the modules and entry requirements beforehand. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have no choice but to study online. There are many benefits you can gain from studying online, such as having the flexibility to study at your own pace, not having to worry about the daily commute, as well as being able to work full time while slotting in your studies alongside.
Use Social Media
If used in the right manner, social media can be an excellent way of finding the right job role for you. Establishing your presence on social media and having a page on LinkedIn is one of the best ways to connect with other engineers in the same field as you. You should never underestimate the importance of making connections with likeminded individuals, especially industry experts from your course who can vouch for you and provide references.
There are various tips and techniques that you can use to make your LinkedIn profile stand out, such as choosing a professional profile photo, creating an enticing headline, and growing your network. However, remember that success won’t happen overnight, so regularly logging into your account and keeping up to date with your connections is vital. There are many engineering firms and groups you can join which can give you a better insight into what career path is right for you. Once you build connections, you can speak to those already in the field who can give you a better understanding of whether the role is suitable.
Look After Your Wellbeing
To work to the best of your ability, you must always put your health and wellbeing first. Even for those who have a strong passion for leading others, if you don’t prioritize yourself, you won’t be in the right frame of mind to help others.
The best engineering leaders understand the value of looking after their mind and body, so getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and factoring in time for relaxation is a must. If you’re going back into education to gain qualifications, make sure you choose the right course, ask for help when you need it, and have a strong support network in place of family and friends who can be a source of help.
For engineers who aren’t happy in their current role, you may struggle to get the motivation to change careers. If this sounds like you, getting motivated and staying dedicated to your end goals is a must. Once you achieve your dreams, you will get a great sense of accomplishment, not to mention the boost in confidence and self-esteem.
Make sure you plot your progress and understand that everyone makes errors. And if things don’t go your way, rather than giving up straight away, make sure you take time to work through the problem. Whether you’re doing an MBA and having difficulty with a particular module, or you’re not getting any responses from your job applications, you need to learn how to handle rejection and try not to let it dishearten you.
If you’re an engineer who likes the idea of a managerial or director role within an organization, following the tips above and putting them into practice can propel your career to new heights and help you find and flourish in a position that matches your needs and capabilities.