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 Carving Career Success

 
The future is bright for engineers, so carpe diem and carve your niche for success now.
 
The career outlook is clearly bright for engineers, with more opportunities opening up in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
With that in mind, this year’s Annual Career-Planning Guide focuses on how you can seize the day, carve a successful niche and land your dream job.
The tips that follow will help you focus yourself on what will propel you on your career path faster, how to shine in an interview and effectively follow that up, and what you shouldn’t forget to include on your resume.
 
Use the 80/20 Rule to Advance Your Engineering Career
 
How can engineers more rapidly advance their careers? The answer is simple: use the 80/20 Rule in deciding where to focus your time, energy and money with respect to professional development.
You might be thinking: what is the 80/20 Rule?
It’s actually an alternate name for the rule known as the Pareto Principle, which, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The principle states that 20 percent of the invested input is responsible for 80 percent of the results obtained.
Here are a few examples:
1. Eighty percent of your career success as an engineer comes from 20 percent of your efforts. When you look back on your engineering career you can probably find a few major things that have contributed to your success. For example, getting a master’s degree, getting your first job, getting a PE license, serving as project manager for a huge, high-profile project, learning how to become an above-average public speaker, etc.
During the course of your career, you do hundreds of things, but the 80/20 Rule tells us that only 20 percent of them really contribute to your success. Figure out which ones matter the most and carry those out, then find other “big result” items and shoot for them.
2. Eighty percent of your firm’s revenue comes from 20 percent of its clients. To clarify, Pareto’s Principle is an established principle that Pareto, a mathematician, proved by doing many studies. For instance, he found 80 percent of the wealth in the U.K. was possessed by 20 percent of the people. He proved this in so many different arenas that the principle was adopted. However, it’s not always 100 percent accurate, so it could be 70/30, 60/40 or even 90/10, but it’s always relatively close.
If you have the chance to look at your company’s revenue by client, you’ll probably see a good portion of the revenue (roughly 80 percent) comes from a small portion of your clients (roughly 20 percent).
This is key because it makes sense to focus most of your time and energy on providing dynamite services to those 20 percent of your clients who yield 80 percent of the income, or on seeking new clients similar to them.
3. Eighty percent of the time, you wear the same 20 percent of your clothes. You may see this example as comical, but actually it’s one of the best examples to drive this theory home. Think about what you wear to work every day, or the clothes you put on after work.
Of all of the clothes in your possession, you probably wear about 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time (your favorites). This is helpful because you can eliminate a lot of your wardrobe, reducing choice-stress, yet not really mess with what you wear on a daily basis. Again, you’re focusing on the 20 percent.
Too many engineers are focusing on the 80 percent of the tasks that are driving the 20 percent of their success as opposed to other way around. Don’t fall into that trap.
So start making a list of the 20 percent of items that will provide rapid career growth for you, and move forward with those.
– Anthony Fasano
Source: ASCE website
About the Author: Fasano, PE, M.ASCE, is the founder of engineeringcareercoach.com, which has helped thousands of engineers develop their business and leadership skills. He hosts the Civil Engineering Podcast, and he’s the author of Engineer Your Own Success.
 
 
Eight Essential Steps for Effective Interview Follow-Up
 
 
Effective interview follow-up continues well after the actual interview, whether you’re applying to a corporation or with a search firm. There are certain interview follow-up steps you must take to uphold the good first impression you made in the interview.
It’s key to realize how you conduct your search communicates to the employer how you’ll conduct yourself on the job, so you need to continue your follow-up appropriately and professionally to seal the deal.
And remember that the interview follow-up steps outlined here begin while you’re still on the interview - not after it’s ended:
1. Before the Interview Ends, Ask About the Next Steps in the Process: When you sense the interview is coming to an end, and the hiring manager or recruiter asks if you have any questions, ask! After you’ve asked your other questions about the business, the position, etc., ask about the next steps in the process. By asking about next steps, you’ll get an accurate action plan for when you can appropriately follow up and in what time frame.
2. Ask If You Can Connect on LinkedIn: Asking the interviewer if you can connect on LinkedIn is perfectly acceptable because you’ve also just formed a new professional relationship. During the interview, look for natural segue ways into a connection request. And when you send the actual request to connect, make sure you include a personalized note.
3. Take the Traditional Route and Ask for Their Business Card: At the end of each interview, ask the interviewer if you may have one of his or her business cards. This will help you when writing the thank you note you need to send. Business cards are an easy way to make sure you get key information correct when following up. If the interviewer doesn’t have his or her business card, then jot down this information on the notepad you should be bringing to every interview.
4. Make the Effort to Send Thank You Notes Immediately: Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. Thank you notes are a quick and easy way to distinguish yourself from the competition, emphasize your interest in the position and leave the interviewer with a positive lasting impression. How you send this thank you note depends on the interviewer; it’s always best to ask him or her how he or she prefers to be contacted.
5. Reach Out Meaningfully, and More Than Once (Maybe More Than Twice): It’s okay to check occasionally after the interview, so long as you do it the right way. Sending multiple emails and leaving multiple voicemail messages simply (or annoyingly) asking if a decision has been made won’t do you any favors in the interviewer’s eyes. Rather, touch base periodically in a way that shows your value and your interest in the position, without coming across as pushy or desperate based on the next steps you already discussed. Understand you’re likely not the only person following up on this position, so if you can do something to differentiate your message from the other candidates, then do so.
6. If You Don’t Hear Back Immediately, Don’t Assume the Worst: Everyone in the hiring process has good intentions to move the process along. But so much of it is out of their control, despite those good intentions. So always keep in mind that no news doesn’t necessarily mean bad news. Maintain a positive attitude, and try not to dwell on it if you’ve yet to hear back from someone.
7. Remain Confident in What You Have to Offer: Remember you can bring something (or multiple things) to this opportunity that nobody else can. Bring this confidence into the interview with you, and carry it with you afterward, too. And always know there’s another opportunity for you if this one doesn’t work.
8. Don’t Wait to Move On and Look for the Next Opportunity: Don’t wait; keep your job search moving. This tactic will preserve your sanity and give you a greater chance of ultimate success. Even if the opportunity you’re waiting to hear about is your dream job, if you sit around and wait for the company to get back to you, then it’s like watching a pot of water come to a boil.
– Lisa Rangel
About the Author: Lisa Rangel is an executive resume writer and official LinkedIn moderator at ChameleonResumes.com, a Forbes Top 100 Career Website. She was named one of the top 28 resume writers in 2016 by Career Toolkit. She’s been featured on BBC, Investor’s Business Daily, Forbes.com, Fox News, Yahoo Finance, U.S. News and World Report. She’s also the creator of ResumeCheatSheet.com. She recently launched a new podcast, The Pretend You're Fired Today Podcast.
 
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