The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that engineering jobs in energy will see 11% growth through 2016. That number is just part of the whopping 58% projected rise in the oil and gas extraction industry, or 1.5 million new jobs through 2012. With figures like that, you’d think that getting a job in the energy industry would be a breeze. You’d be wrong.
Even while advancements in onshore and offshore technology continue to help meet rising consumer demand, and niche sectors can lead to high-paying atomic energy jobs, electrical engineering jobs and more, the best positions are always the hardest to get. So whether you have set your sights on being a chemical engineer working in biofuels, an electrical engineer servicing power plants, an environmental engineer hoisting wind turbines or a civil engineer masterminding E&P infrastructure; one thing is guaranteed – nobody’s going to drop a job into your lap. You’ll be competing with scores of other applicants in a narrowly niched career market.
That’s why your job search needs to take the same strategic, systematic approach you applied to your engineering studies. Your personal marketing tactics can stand you apart from your competition and start you on the road to a fulfilling career.
Put out the word
Tell everyone that you want to go into energy engineering. Your engineering professors and guidance counselors are logical choices, of course, but what about your dad’s golf partner, who happens to rep for a solar panel company; or your roommate’s brother’s wife, who is a project manager for PG&E? Make your goals known to anyone who will listen – it’s the original way to network.
Polish your resume
As the standard-bearer of your job search, your resume presents a picture of you that can immediately influence a hiring manager, for better or for worse. For the best results, start with an SEO-rich summary that will satisfy today’s keyword-scanning software programs. Keep your work experience tied to results and achievements, not just job descriptions. Use bullet points to get the message across quickly, and avoid self-aggrandizing statements like “I am a dedicated and motivated self-starter.”
Launch a website
That’s right – a site all about you. It need not be flashy, but it should be clean and easy to navigate. You can populate it with the items too large or lengthy for a resume: letters of recommendation, college records, engineering schematics you developed, and so on. Include contact information on every page so that employers can always reach you.
Go social online
It’s one thing to hang around on Facebook or Twitter; it’s another to really use these resources to build awareness and credibility. Search on the popular networks for communities tied to the engineering or energy industries, and join them. Get on LinkedIn, the world’s biggest business network, and join every industry subgroup you can find. Follow specific energy companies and engineering firms, post your resume, and make scores of new contacts through friends-of-friends.
Get out there
When Steven Spielberg was just another young hopeful with a bachelor’s degree, he’d talk his way past the guards at Universal Studios and hang around the sets, watching movies being made. You can learn a lot – and meet influential people – by attending energy industry events and expos, touring power plants, or volunteering your engineering talents for the local community. And when you do, have a few copies of your printed resume on hand, just in case.
Go the temp route
Employment agencies and temp services are not just for entry-level jobs. Many of the biggest and best are niche employers, placing contract and temp-to-hire in engineering fields. One of the advantages of contingency work like this is that you may have the opportunity to work for different companies, gaining new perspectives along the way.
Never give up!
Engineering jobs in energy are competitive, but never out of reach if you are truly dedicated.