‘I want a change, but how do I find a job matching my skills without starting again?’

Article Source: IMechE

Are you stuck in a career rut or planning your next move? Maybe you’re a student struggling to decide on an industry? We’re putting your burning questions to our panel of seasoned engineers.

In Issue 8, 2019, of Professional Engineering,  C Hobson asked: “I want a change, but I have built up experience in the people and systems I am familiar with. How do I find a job matching my skills without having to start all over again?”

“Be cautious about change for the sake of it! Also be aware that over 75% of leavers chose to leave because of their manager, not because they dislike their job. I have a colleague who’s worked for many employers and her advice was to be very cautious about moving from a role where you have an excellent manager. It is also a well-known fact that US-owned or managed companies treat employees much worse than those that aren’t. Having worked with and recruited many people who have worked with or for such organisations the universal comment is ‘never again’.”

“Engineering experience is in the head, not in the tools we use to execute that experience. New tools can be quickly learned, experience is there forever. Your experience, not your knowledge of tools, is where your value is.”
Gary Lock

“An engineer has lots of transferable skills; we are used to planning, project management, budgeting and reacting to changes in plan. These skills are valuable to lots of other occupations.”

“Personally, I believe one needs to take the job available that you have the skill/ capability for. It may not be the ideal job as one perceives it, but if one can demonstrate the skills there it can lead to a better prospect in the future. In other words, keep going!”

“Do you want a technical job or a people job? If the latter it’s probably less hard, as good management/ leadership is patchy at best in many organisations, engineering or not! If you are in a more managerial/ technical leadership role this might be more straightforward than if you are near the bottom of the org chart… Look for areas where you can use and develop skills, which you enjoy, and use that to learn new things/ industries or take on new challenges that build on your experience rather than do the same old thing. Branching out into something adjacent and growing anew from there can be the difference between having X years of experience, or the safe monotony of the same year of experience X times.”

“Start looking at competitors and customers of your current employer and any associated businesses. Unfortunately, there is always an element of learning new systems when changing companies.”
Stephen Downward

“I had the same issue; after working in the oil and gas industry other industries assumed that I had nothing to offer them. My solution was to move to another company in a new area, in my case, a different country, which gave me the variety and new approach whilst using my skillset.”
Andrew Deacon

“It depends on the change that is wanted. A way forward might be to focus on the portable skills that you have acquired, e.g. software/ hardware tools that you are competent to use, and responsibilities you hold, e.g. responsibility for interviewing job applicants to work in your area. You should mention any papers and/ or presentations you have done, particularly if they have been external to your present organisation. But an important issue to think about is, given that you have successfully made the change, where does it take your future career? Or, to put it another way, if you need to apply for another job in a few years’ time, what sort of job is that likely to be and how will this change help you in that job application?”
Richard Bossom

“Create a picture for yourself of being successful elsewhere, consider what helps you in
that and reach out to your network with positive intent and go for it.”
Nicola Johnson

“A great book, What Color is your Parachute?, will guide you through a structured process of discovery, leading to clear guidance on how best to use your skills to find a new direction.”
Michael Reid

“A good question – the manufacturing and tech sectors in the UK are very diverse so unless you’re jumping ship to your competitor this is something we all face. Think about your core skillset and how it relates to other industries – you’d be surprised at how essentially similar many jobs are!”
James Lee

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