Smaller businesses also employ engineers

Do not sit yourself down to wait for your dream job. It is crucial that you explain what you can do.

The fluctuating oil prices have sent marine engineers back on land and given the off-shore industry a blow. For the first time in years, Novo Nordisk has completed a round of layoffs in Denmark, and several other trendsetting corporations are experiencing recruitment freezes. Simultaneously, institutions of higher education are shooting out thousands of extra graduates in the summer half of 2016, because the study progress reform of the Danish Ministry of Education has forced them to do so.

There is a lot of reason behind looking for jobs – also with companies other than the large trendsetting corporations. The situation mentioned above has resulted in the importance of graduate- other induction programmes for new candidates. If a company is unable to take you on, at least they can attract talents with the help of graduate and trainee programmes. Temporary project employment is on the rise. If your field of interest is not graduate programme material, look for jobs elsewhere. Think unconventionally and broadly. Smaller businesses employ engineers too. Maternity covers could easily be you way in. So could public employment in municipalities, regions or governmental workplaces.

Tips from the managing partner of Capax, Christina Just:

  • Research when you are looking for jobs. Monitor the accounts and job advertisements of the companies you are interested in for a while – use sites such as JobIndex or Jobfinder. Are they doing well financially? Are they posting job advertisements that are even relevant for you?
  • Use networks to help you. A distant family member or someone from another study programme at your university may have some technical knowledge of the job market. Where are there openings? Can, and will, you move geographically for a job?
  • Stay open. Do not limit your job hunt to large iconic corporations. All the large companies have a selection of subcontractors and smaller competitors that you can learn something from. Ask to go to a coffee meeting so you can tell them about your qualifications.
  • Stay updated. Companies have no way of staying updated on all new study programmes, so you need to help them by translating your programme and title. What were your thesis or bachelor projects about? What can you offer? Write it on LinkedIn and on your competence CV.
  • Practice. Consider every dialogue at a job fair, coffee meeting or job interview a means for practicing telling people what you can do. You learn to listen to what you are being asked. You learn to decipher facial expressions when you answer. You learn to relax, which means that next time you might be the one talking yourself into a job.
  • The grandma-test. Fill out a sheet of paper with information about your education. Which projects have you done? What did you write papers on? Which results did you discover? Were they useful? What have you become better at? If your grandmother can understand what you have written, you are good at communicating your expertise. If she does not understand it at all, try explaining it to her. Perhaps she can help you phrase it better.

Large differences
“We are still wanting to see genuine growth in the market for new engineers,” says managing partner of Capax, Christina Just, who monitors the technical labour market closely. She stresses that there are large differences in employment according to which type of engineer you are. In the autumn 2016/winter 2017 the medico- and pharmaceutical industries of Zealand were chocked by the global crisis and recruitment freeze of Novo Nordisk, which is spreading like wildfire to their subcontractors. On the other hand, marine engineers who are looking for jobs in production companies on Funen, Lolland-Falster and in central Jutland, are having a field day.

Christina Just recommends that you stay geographically mobile and flexible in terms of both job descriptions and the size of the company rather than sit yourself down to wait for your dream job. Although wages are generally up, graduates should never count on a high salary. Engineers and technical specialists with more than five years´ experience are more inclined to receive higher salaries and perks.

“Previously, Novo Nordisk drained the market for production engineers and marine engineers in Zealand, so it shall be interesting to see how the deceleration of this corporation will affect engineers and their wages in the future,” Christina Just continues.

Translate your knowledge and qualifications
If your educational background is centered on IT, surveillance or data security you have many jobs to choose between. You will meet competition from business college graduates and graduates from the IT University of Copenhagen, but both the financial ­sector, the large consultancy firms, the Defence and private manufacturers of hardware and software for the security business, are growing and are in need for people with many different types of skills.

“At the moment, the IT business is facing a bottleneck challenge – there aren’t enough IT people, and many are handpicked for certain businesses even before they graduate.” Regardless of whether you want to work for companies in need of ­people with your profile or for companies where you need to fight your way in, it is vital that you explain your educational background.
“A potential employer has no way of knowing whether an education centered on innovation and design means that you master agile working methods, is a Lean expert or are familiar with architectural design processes. You need to describe that in detail when you are calling or writing a company,” says Christina Just. The companies consist of HR officers and older employees who do not necessarily share your educational background, so they want to know what you can do.

If you need inspiration for “translating” your qualifications, Capax recommends that you research the company. Which products do they develop, manufacture or sell? Who are their clients? Which ­working methods do they apply? What has been written about them in the press? This will give you an indication of which types of employees the company might be looking for.