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Topic Title: career advice
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Created On: 24 September 2012 02:32 PM
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 24 September 2012 02:32 PM
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Joined: 10 February 2009

Dear all,
I graduated from university about 5 years ago and have been working as an Electronics engineer for a very small company < 10.
My role is invloved in the devlopment of low power instrumentation typically invloving PIC micros. I typically design the whole product from designing the circuit and pcb layout in Altium to wrting the firmware in embedded C. Earlier this year I decided to look around and get another job to learn new skill and progress. This has not gone very well the interviews I have had the employers only really want very Senior engineers with loads of experience in very specific areas and I find find I am missing some skill or other. I have seen a position for a more technician level job at a world famous company but I am thinking of using it as an opportunity to shine at that role and then progress. I know I can do the job as I do much production testing and practical work(wiring/soldering etc) in my my current role (v small company so its all hands to pump) so thats not the issue.
So how do I handle the fact that I have been involved in design but want to take a step back to go forwards as it were?
 24 September 2012 03:23 PM
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Avoid indicating it is a step back, of course.

I would inform them that you currently carry out a lot of production and testing etc., work and enjoy it and think you already have good skills but would like to develop them further and so are looking for a more 'hands on' production role. You feel this would also develop you to have a more rounded exerience and knowledge which you feel is important for an engineer. This would be because no matter what particular job you are doing you can then consider how your work would affect other parts of the supply chain and how you could suggest improvements in different areas and how you could then communicate with the different job functions in order to produce a high quality product....bla bla bla.

Something along those lines, but of course change the wording and/or add to it etc., to suit your line of work.

 24 September 2012 03:56 PM
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First, is it a step back financially? If it isn't, reasons for moving become obvious and understandable. You want the opportunity to work in amore formal design environment, learn from other engineers, etc, etc.

I assume from what you say that you're looking for a job in a design/development role, rather than production. In which case i'd look carefully at the technician job because in quite a few companies it's not very easy to move from production into D&D.

I don't know what your present company is like, but in a lot of small companies design is bit 'suck it and see' rather than proper formal design taking account of all tolerances etc. This of course isn't much good for mass production and so makes some recruiters wary.

If the technician job doesn't work out, how about looking at the engineering jobs that call for 2-3 years experience rather than the five you have. It's always a problem when you try to change context - you probbaly know your present application inside out but it's not necessarily transferable.

It can be done - I've changed industries several times in my career, after I had a lucky break switching from an over-specialised engineering job to a development technician for a big company.

Good luck!

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
 25 September 2012 08:54 AM
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Fully agree with Stewart. I've done this twice in my career: in both cases it was a step down both in role and salary but both allowed me to very effectively bypass a "road block" in the previous company. BUT (using hindsight) both times the companies involved identified at interview that I would have potential to grow in their company, and that they were interested in that, otherwise they would probably not have offered me the job. A company that just wants a technician will probably see you as a risk: yes you could do the job, but you would get bored and leave. The company you want is one that sees this as an opportunity to get someone in to solve an immediate staff shortage well, but with the opportunity to take on more as time allows.

So, be clear in your application that you are looking for an opportunity to learn new skills from the ground up, and don't undersell yourself otherwise you could be offered a really dead end job.

Hope all goes well,

Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 25 September 2012 11:50 AM
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Many thanks for your replies. Financially the role will be a bit of a drop but the role is actually within walking distance and as I am currently commuting >30miles a day it will probably even itself out in reduced travelling.
I think the best thing I can do is apply go to the interivew (if selected) and check things out. The company in question do take on design engineers so I don't see why there should not be a route there perhaps.

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