What to do Before Calling an Engineering Recruiter
An experienced engineering recruiter can be a valuable partner as you ponder your next career move. Your recruiter probably works with multiple companies in the region and can provide insight and guidance once he or she gets to know you and understands your past and current professional circumstances. To that end, you may wish to consider these suggestions prior to reaching out to a recruiter.
Dust off your resume
It may have been quite a while since you’ve even thought about your resume. Updating your resume can take some time, particularly if you haven’t looked for a new opportunity in several years. To prepare, take time to reflect on the positions you have held and the responsibilities and accomplishments associated with each position. Remember to:
- Include the month as well as the year when listing the dates you were employed at each firm. A thorough recruiter will ask which month you started / finished at each company, so stating this detail directly on your resume will save time.
- If the company has recently been acquired or changed its name, include both the new name as well as the name by which it was previously known. This may be done either by using a “/” between the two company names or by including the former name in parenthesis after the current name.
- As you are listing the responsibilities and accomplishments for each position, try to quantify those accomplishments as much as possible. For instance, if you can truthfully claim a particular percentage reduction in turn-around time or a dollar value savings based on your efforts, make sure you include these details.
Be ready to answer some questions
Take the time to objectively review your resume and look for potential issues and inconsistencies that invite questions. A diligent engineering recruiter will certainly bring such issues up during your conversation, so be ready to discuss:
- Short jobs. Even if you have been contracting, a history of short jobs raises questions. Generally a couple of the contracts should have either led to direct employment or lasted more than a few months. If your jobs have been direct and have lasted only a couple of years each, a recruiter will wonder about your ability to successfully assimilate into a new environment and/or whether you are willing to jump around in pursuit of the ‘next best thing’. Understandably, recruiters and employers are wary of short jobs and you should be prepared to discuss why you left each position.
- Gaps in employment. There certainly are valid reasons for gaps between jobs. Perhaps you took a few months away from the workforce to assist an ill relative, went back to school, or were diligently seeking a new position. You will be asked what you were doing for blocks of time not accounted for on your resume so have thoughtful answers ready.
- Taking a step back. In most instances, your career path should include logical progressions from one position to another. Lateral moves are understandable when there are other important factors at play; however, moves that seem to be a step backwards or that don’t involve at least the same level of responsibilities as your prior role will be explored in the conversation with your recruiter. Be honest – explain your thought process in accepting a certain role. There is no specific template you need to follow to be successful in your chosen career. People make decisions regarding employment based on multiple factors and as long as your recruiter understands your reasoning, an atypical career path doesn’t have to be a hindrance in your current search.
Know your ‘hot buttons’
Hot buttons are your motivators. They are unique to you, and it is very important that your recruiter is aware of yours. This is the best way to ensure your recruiter can effectively and efficiently identify positions that address what you value most in your search. Your hot buttons may already be obvious to you. If not, begin by asking:
- Why are you now open to considering options for your next career move?
- What has changed in your current role, or has nothing changed…and that is the issue?
- What is most important to you in your next role? Perhaps it’s a management opportunity, specific technology, work environment, flexible hours, or something different.
Give thought to your willingness to commute and how long you want to spend in the car each day. This is an important factor in our geographic area. Also, be ready to talk about your salary history and your specific salary requirements going forward. Taking the time to consider these points will pave the way for a productive conversation with your recruiter.
One last piece of advice: After speaking with your engineering recruiter, discuss your thoughts with your spouse or significant other. Changing jobs can be stressful – including important family members from the start often avoids surprises later down the line!