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Looking for advice from engineers
Old 07-21-2014, 06:35 PM   #1
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Looking for advice from engineers

I am looking for some advice from some of the engineers on the forum. My son graduated with his mechanical engineering degree last year. He was offered and accepted an engineering position with an auto parts manufacturer in a little, tiny, redneck town in the state we live in. He enjoyed his job but hated where he was living. There is absolutely nothing in that town for twenty-somethings to do. He is very athletic and loves to play all kinds of sports, likes to go out and hang with his friends....you know how twenty-somethings are

This year he was offered a position with another auto parts manufacturer in a much larger, metropolitan area (out of state) doing essentially the same thing he was doing but at a much higher salary and a more "fun" place to live. He stated work there at the beginning of June. He says he doesn't care for the company and the job is *meh*.

He is now receiving a lot of contacts from head hunter type people offering him all sorts of opportunities - like working in the aerospace automation industry (across the country from us) as well as other more mundane type industries (in the state - actually in the same town we, his parents, live in). He gets approached on an average by someone every 2 weeks for the past couple of months.

My question to those of you who have worked in the engineering industry - what looks good and what looks bad on a resume? He's only been on his new job for about 7 - 8 weeks. Is job hopping, even to something better, seriously frowned upon or is it expected in this industry? Having no experience in the engineering world, we are at a loss of what to advise him when he asks what he should do. Does anyone have any advice to share?

Thanks
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Old 07-21-2014, 06:51 PM   #2
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Job hopping for a twenty-something-year-old is no big deal. Nor is it a big deal to leave a two month stint somewhere completely off a future resume. It does from what you have shared seem that your son needs to be the one doing a better job of interviewing and evaluating his prospects. Perhaps some engineer types on here can help with that aspect?
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Old 07-21-2014, 06:52 PM   #3
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I was (am still am) in software for quite a while. For a short stint, I would not even list it. If this one doesn't work out, watch out. It may impact him.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:22 PM   #4
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I worked as a EE for over 30 years and if I was doing the hiring I would definitely be concerned with someone who is job hopping every few months. Good jobs that you enjoy are hard to come by, he may regretting leaving his first job so soon. I also think 7-8 weeks is too short a period to judge his current job, the first few months are usually difficult, getting to know the people you work with and how to get things done. It's easy to hide short job stints when you have a long work history (+10 years), not so easy when you've been out of college less than 2 years.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:55 PM   #5
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Let me start by saying I am not an expert in the field of job-hopping, human relations, etc.

However, I worked as a mechanical engineer in the electronics industry for 28 years and I only had two employers. I realize that may be a little unusual and yes, moving to further your career and pay are acceptable. On the other hand, you sometimes have to suck it up and just keep going (the current job for instance) before you jump ship.

In my 28 years I had several occasions to interview people for engineering and related technical jobs. I felt strongly that any sort of job-hopping was a BIG negative! Regardless of why the job changes occurred I felt the individual was at least partly responsible for what I perceive to be a problem. Making poor choice once or twice in a career can be explained and overlooked. It appears your son is on the way toward making a series of poor choices. Maybe this will be his last (poor career choice) but he has to figure this out soon and make the best of the situation.

Headhunters make money when you take a new job. They are looking out for themselves, not your son. I would put them on ignore and take some time to figure out the current job/employer and see if there is any way to make this situation work.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:01 PM   #6
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Not an engineer here but have participated in the hiring of engineers as well as other professionals. Looking at a resume and trying to figure out if the applicant is trying to improve his lot in life or has issues can be difficult but best found out during the interview process. For younger folks pretty fresh out of school, job hopping within reason is no big deal as long as it is for the right reasons. Now if there were a three to six month gap with no good explanation, that would be a red flag.

I always looked at engineers as being kind of a rare commodity and if you got a good one, do anything and everything within reason to keep them happy, good projects, promotions, travel, etc.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:26 PM   #7
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I'm listening to all that is being said and have sent my son a link to this thread.

Sent from my KFTT using Tapatalk HD
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:48 PM   #8
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Engineer here...(civil)

In my branch of engineering, the best job opportunities often come from networking, not headhunters. Your son should invest some time attending a professional society meeting or two. Our local ASCE chapter has a well-attended monthly meeting and a younger members group that gets together a few times a year for social events. Guests / prospective members are welcome for the price of a rubber chicken dinner.

Look into ASME or SAE to see if there is a local chapter where your son might make some local acquaintances in his industry.
List of SAE Sections - Membership - SAE International
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:52 PM   #9
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Engineer here...(civil)

In my branch of engineering, the best job opportunities often come from networking, not headhunters. Your son should invest some time attending a professional society meeting or two. Our local ASCE chapter has a well-attended monthly meeting and a younger members group that gets together a few times a year for social events. Guests / prospective members are welcome for the price of a rubber chicken dinner.

Look into ASME or SAE to see if there is a local chapter where your son might make some local acquaintances in his industry.
List of SAE Sections - Membership - SAE International
Thanks, Harry. I will suggest this to him.
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Old 07-22-2014, 12:10 AM   #10
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Headhunters make money when you take a new job. They are looking out for themselves, not your son. I would put them on ignore and take some time to figure out the current job/employer and see if there is any way to make this situation work.
Yup! The going rate was equal to 20% of the victim's er, candidate's salary, paid after he/she was on the new job a few weeks. If they left in less than a year, it was usually expected to be paid back to the company IF the HH Co. wanted to keep good relations with the company. In a hot market, that time could be negotiated between hiring Co. and HH Co.

I saw a few HH Co. boiler rooms from the inside (just visiting)... ick!

Engineer here, about 20 years hiring, tending, laying off, and booted a couple, let a few get the idea that they might want to move on.

I hired exactly ONE clear job-hopper. About every year/18 mos. he would change jobs. Always to increase knowledge. He was thrilled with what job I was offering, the task to be done, it was clear to me and the other interviewers I had talk with him that he was a top performer. I had a critical job that needed to be done in a year. I knew when I hired him that he would probably leave when he completed the task. He hit the ground running, was a total self-starter, never a problem out of him. Totally self-contained. Did a fantastic job! And when he finished, he left. No hard feelings. He was the only one, a super-special engineer.
Everyone likes to think they are above-average. This guy was off in ultra-land!

With that one exception, I usually avoided job-hoppers, interviewing some, we could tell some of the reasons why they were looking again...

Minimum is one year at a job unless there are truly extenuating circumstances. And not many quick stints like that. A new engineer needs to prove that he/she will bring something worthwhile to the table, fit in, get the job done without a lot of supervision, hand-holding, or friction with other people and other parts of the company.

In general, the management view is, why hire a job-hopper? For the time it takes to locate and get good talent on board, train them, which is a load on others, get them up to speed, and they hop off? Why bother? Are there other candidates that look good who just have a few moves relative to their years of experience? It's always a comparison. Among my peers, ID'd job-hopper's resumes went into resume stack C.

Anyone can feel free to disagree with me... I don't care anymore! No more people! No more HR, no more anything! Bwaahaaahaaahaaa
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Old 07-22-2014, 02:00 AM   #11
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If he was in Silicon Valley, I don't think it would be held against him to job hopping, too much. I agree with Telly 1 year is sort of a minimum. When reviewing resumes for engineering type, I gave a person one strike for each 1 year job stint. If they had 4+ year job the count went back to zero, and yes 3 strikes was out.

But my perception is the auto industry is a lot more traditional than Silicon Valley or software in general, there just aren't hundred new companies formed in the auto industry every year. I know the Aerospace is more traditional than a Silicon Valley for the same reason, it is just a lot easier to burn your bridges.

So my counsel would if you really hate the job and/or the new job is something you are passionate by all means take the new job. But he needs to know that A. the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and B. If he leaves the next job in under a couple of years, it could have some long term negative consequences for his career.

Finally the first few months of most job is meh, the stick you off in a corner and tell you to learn which is generally dull when you are 23 or so.
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:35 AM   #12
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Chemical engineer here - various technical and management roles. I've had 8 employers over 40 years. That almost qualifies as a job hopper in most peoples eyes in the industry. Some I left on my own and sometimes I was helped. Perception varies somewhat by type of position. Operating companies take a dimmer view of job hoppers than contractors.

Headhunter/recruiters are people to generally be friendly with because you may really need help some day. You must realize they make their money on placing individuals. Young engineers are the easiest to place and moving them around their industry is the easiest. Companies see the young engineers with a couple of years of experience as "trained" but not too expensive to hire. Keep hopping and in 10 to 15 years you'll no longer be in demand but considered less desirable due to an unstable job history.

I agree with others who said to look outside recruiters for job leads. Your son should get on LinkedIn. That will flood him with even more recruiters but it will allow him to see other options.

The big thing your son needs to figure out is "what does he want to be when he grows up?" Job hopping will certainly reduce his opportunities to move into management roles or develop a technical expertise. If he continues to jump it won't be long until he is described as someone with 10 years of experience but the same year ten times.

He's jumped once after a short stint. I would recommend he not jump quickly unless he really knows what he is looking for and that he's found it. He may not particularly like where he's at but he's able to regroup now. He needs to figure out where he wants to call his career "home."

If the job is really horrible, that's another story. One of my past employers had corrupt managers and no commitment to safety or good operating practices. I lasted 3 months and it was a question whether I quit or was fired. I know I wouldn't have lasted much longer if I hadn't resigned. My only consolation was that I corrected their inventory system so that a couple of months later an internal audit revealed what was going on. This resulted in my former boss and his boss being fired. This postion never appeared on my resume. A careful investigation of my records by a company would probably reveal it but I would have the safety story to explain the short tenure.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:04 AM   #13
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Wife is a software engineer. Out of college she had about 8 different jobs over a period of 10 years before finally settling down with a big company and getting golden handcuffs (which turned out to only be 18k plated).

I think they expect young engineers to move around a bit. She had no trouble getting a new position each time.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:32 AM   #14
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No real advice; just some personal observations that will hopefully be helpful from a former software engineer turned middle manager (basically, the pointy haired boss from Dilbert now).

There were only a few times in my career where the economy heated up and I had offers for 20%-30% more money to move. I did not take advantage of every such opportunity; but, I never regretted making the move when I did. And, as far as I can tell, it did not hurt my career. Early in my career, the moves were always for both more money and opportunities to learn something new (industry, technology, etc.).

I did move into consulting fairly early. This gave me the opportunity to jump between assignments fairly often, generally will a rate increase at each move, while keeping the same employer on my resume for a considerable period.

When I am hiring, I will generally pick a person with a more steady employment record over one showing more jumps (short term jobs) when everything else is equal. But, everything else is never equal.
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:16 AM   #15
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I think many of you have hit the nail on the head when you say "what does he want to be when he grows up"? That is the crux of the issue and something only he can figure out. Jumping just for the sake of jumping is not always the best idea. Having no engineering background, we were unsure if this was accepted/expected in young engineers. My background is in mortgage banking in a mid-to-high level management position. For me, job hopping was a red flag as I didn't want to waste valuable time and resources training someone only to lose them 6 - 12 months later. However, I wasn't sure if that was the same thinking in the engineering world - but apparently it is.

He is already on LinkedIn and I suspect that is where the recruiters are getting his contact information. I think Htown Harry's recommendation to join a local ASCE chapter (there is one in the town he is now living in) was spot on and will provide additional networking opportunities as well as introduction to potential alternative paths in an engineering field he may not have thought about. There is also a Meetup group in his town that he has attended a couple of times that is mostly comprised of engineers. I think continuing that relationship would also be of benefit to him while he is figuring out what he wants to do with his life.

He's young, and like many of us at that age, eager to make his mark on the world. It's a process and different for each of us. He just needs to find his way.

Thanks for the thoughts and comments thus far. Keep 'em coming!
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:27 AM   #16
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He is already on LinkedIn and I suspect that is where the recruiters are getting his contact information. I think Htown Harry's recommendation to join a local ASCE chapter (there is one in the town he is now living in) was spot on and will provide additional networking opportunities as well as introduction to potential alternative paths in an engineering field he may not have thought about.
LinkedIn is a head hunters dream. They flood young engineers with "opportunities" but they are mostly after the commission. Young engineers are so easy to place it's a quick, easy payday.

I ended up getting off LinkedIn because of the recruiters but that was after I gave up any residual interest in a career. It's a good communication mechanism with others in his field. It's best to ignore 99.999% of the recruiters.

He wants ASME (for mechanical engineers). There may be a group for automotive engineers. He'll know what is around and what to look into. I used to be semi-active in AIChE (for chemical engineers) but found the meetings in chemical engineer rich Houston to be marginal networking opportunities. He'll have to judge if he get anything out of them.
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:40 AM   #17
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He wants ASME (for mechanical engineers). There may be a group for automotive engineers. He'll know what is around and what to look into. I used to be semi-active in AIChE (for chemical engineers) but found the meetings in chemical engineer rich Houston to be marginal networking opportunities. He'll have to judge if he get anything out of them.
OK, thanks for pointing that out. Although I'm sure he would have known the difference, I did not. I guess ASCE is for Civil Engineers?
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:54 AM   #18
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..."what does he want to be when he grows up"?...
I finally figured this one out: FIREd!

Job hopping is de rigueur in many techy fields, but, as others have said, too many short stints will likely not look good on the resume.

As for "liking your job", for most of us the saying "If it was fun, they wouldn't call it w*rk" applies...
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Old 07-22-2014, 01:15 PM   #19
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I B like 2B--Chem E--from the same creche as it happens.

In my case, not being the sharpest tool in the drawer, I figured I should get marketable experience as fast as I could. The jobs came and went, but it payed off. I have been a contractor for many years now. It is a gypsy life, but it has been good for me (not the best for the family, but it is better for survival). I am a lousy employee (and not a particularly nice person) but I have a lot to sell and I can sell it. Not recommended for all. Some folks are born to be cube slaves.

I suggest: first, go for the experience. After maxing one's opportunities, then, go for the money. (This is my last formal job. I am doing something off-the-wall, very different from my honed design skills--but I am making 4x what I could make in North America.) In the end, 'What do you want?' Think long term.

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Old 07-22-2014, 04:02 PM   #20
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Engineer myself, I think it is OK for your son to have regrets on the new job and wanting to leave. The grass was not as green on that side of the fence as he thought. I would not put the short stint on his resume in future; it will only create confusion and raise red flags. I will say that he can't keep doing this, he needs to find a good spot and hang in there.

Also concur that headhunter is out for his own commission, but also could mean your son finds a good job through one. Just be aware the chances are he will likely find better positions and companies by networking.

Automotive can be good field, but it is also the time for him to decide on a career field and stick with that. Develop expertise and then use that for good income. First jobs out of school use GPA and other discriminators like school rating, summer/internship jobs, volunteer positions in school groups, etc. Once you start working as engineer it is a question of what you have done and how you show your value to the employer. GPA and school become much less a factor. That is why I say decide on a field and then develop expertise in that area through on the job training and experience.
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