Right now, in Q3 2021, the job market for engineers is better than it’s been in a long time. Now is the time to dip your toes into the water and see if you should level up in your career.
The high demand for qualified engineers is due to a number of factors, one of which is the post-COVID recovery that is leading to a booming economy across all sectors. Businesses are becoming more certain about the future, so their budgets are opening back up.
This is exacerbated by a generational shift: many Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age, and are looking for qualified Millennials and even Zoomers to replace them.
The problem is that there aren’t enough qualified candidates to meet the demand. Which, from the candidate’s perspective, isn’t really a problem at all. It means that you have all the power, and can negotiate the best possible situation.
Here are some major trends in the engineering talent market that should convince you that now is the time to go after your ideal job, level up your skills, and move your career forward.
There’s a talent gap in the engineering sector.
There’s a growing number of job opportunities for qualified engineers, along with a shortage of qualified engineering talent. The result is a growing talent gap.
Although more people are graduating from college with engineering degrees, they don’t always have the requisite skills to succeed at top engineering firms. From conversations I’m having with employers, they’re finding fewer and fewer candidates that are qualified to work on their projects and replace outgoing Boomer talent.
If you have experience in the sector, this puts you in a powerful position. More opportunities plus less competition means that you basically have your pick of the jobs available. So if you’ve got a dream job or company that you want to work for, now is the time to go for it.
Candidates have the power.
Just a few years ago, we were experiencing a talent surplus and highly competitive market. In that environment, the employers had all the power.
Now the script has flipped completely. As the candidate, you have the power.
Not only can you more easily find your way into your dream job, you also have a better chance at negotiating for better opportunities & benefits:
- Salary + benefits (some candidates can ask for $20K more than what they were making just a few years ago)
- Responsibilities and upward mobility
- Specific projects
- Additional education and training
The ideal situation is when you’re able to combine a great, reputable company with exciting work and excellent compensation. With the market the way it is, there’s no reason why you can’t have all of that.
So if you’re in a situation where you’ve had to choose one or the other, now’s the time to jump into the market and see if you can level up.
Innovation & specialization are in demand.
Making a job switch shouldn’t only be based on the short term, but the long-term impact it could have on your career.
Given the demand for very specialized skill sets among engineering firms, one question you should ask when looking for a job is: Will I work on projects here that will allow me to gain new specialized skills?
For example, in automotive engineering, there is a lot of talk around autonomous & electric vehicles. The autonomous vehicle sector is slated to grow 39.4% by 2026. Additionally, most of the major OEMs have set net-zero emissions goals before 2030, meaning that they are investing heavily in electric vehicle development.
Some of the other skills that we are seeing increased demand for are:
- Electrical engineering
- Embedded systems
- Software systems
- Hardware design
- Program management
- Engineering managers
As these skills become more in demand, you will become much more marketable as a candidate if you have experience in these areas. So be sure to highlight your areas of specialty on your resume, and during your screening calls and interview.
But more than that, if there are firms where you may be able to pick up some of these skills, consider prioritizing those during your search. Those may be the jobs that take you to new places in your career.
Engineering firms are looking for new leadership.
As I mentioned earlier, many senior engineering leaders are aging out of the workforce. This is resulting in not only a skill gap, but also in a leadership gap.
Not all engineers aspire to corporate leadership. And that’s totally fine. But if it’s something you’re at least open to, you’re probably going to be in a stronger position going in.
Granted, you don’t want to walk into an interview saying “I want to be a leader.” That’s not going to get you anywhere. But you can demonstrate strong leadership skills during the interview in a much subtler way:
- Active listening and response to the interviewer questions
- Initiative (i.e. don’t wait for the interviewer to ask questions, you ask questions too)
- Curiosity (again, ask questions)
- Positive response to constructive criticism (e.g. ask them if they have concerns about your resume/experience)
By demonstrating that you have the capacity for leadership, you’re demonstrating that you can potentially fill more than one void that the market is leaving open.
Conclusion: The market is all yours.
If you want to be in the strongest position possible as a job seeker, now is the time to get into the market. You’re going to be hard pressed to find another time when the market is placing this much power into candidates’ hands.
This applies no matter where you are in the process: whether you are looking to advance to the next level, just starting out, or a tenured engineer ready for a new challenge.
Reach out to Brightwing and our trusted, people-first process can help you find your ideal job match.
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