Before you start applying for engineering jobs and attending interviews, it's essential to do some research. One graduate recruiter explains: 'Demonstrating you've done your company research sends out a very positive message to an employer. It conveys your interest and could easily set you apart from those who are less prepared. It separates those who simply want a job from those who want this job.'
Research also helps you to decide whether a particular engineering employer is right for you. It could save you time in the long run if you find out early on that an organisation would not suit you. Make sure you know what you want from your engineering career, then match this to recruiters. Decide what type of projects you'd like to be involved in, which kind of culture you'd be happiest working in and what skills you want to use on a day-to-day basis. Do you want to be involved in project management, use your technical skills to help troubleshooting or become an expert on a particular area? If the company is doing work that you are interested in, you will feel more positive when writing applications and attending interviews, and this enthusiasm will shine through.
What to find out about an engineering employer
Look into the following aspects of any companies you're thinking of applying to:
- key projects
- major technologies used
- developments in that industry
- recent company news
- any recent awards received
The more detail you can find, the more you will set yourself apart. For example, it's good to know the company's annual turnover but lots of other applicants will have found this out too. Make sure you spend some time investigating the position as well: find out the degree requirements and which skills are needed, and make sure you fit the bill. Be practical in your approach and stay focused. It may help to draw up a list of questions to answer.
Where to research engineering companies
Start your research online here at TARGETjobs Engineering and at the TARGETjobs employer hubs, which provide an in-depth analysis of leading engineering employers. Then click through to employers' own websites. Company information is most accessible via the internet and the organisation's website. Printed materials such as graduate brochures, directories and annual reports can also be a mine of information.
Seize opportunities to meet employers at careers fairs and other career events and, if there are any graduates present, talk to them to get the inside view. You can also meet engineering employers at TARGETjobs' Future female engineers event in November.
Your careers service may also have an alumni network that can put you in contact with someone who works for the organisation. Don't forget to keep an eye on the national newspapers and the trade press for industry developments. You can also do this online and most papers have an 'industry' or 'engineering' header under their 'business' tab.
Using your research in your applications
Once you've found out which organisations offer what you're looking for, send them targeted applications that demonstrate your knowledge and explain how your skills, experience and interests match what they require. Many employers provide tips and advice on how to do well in their selection process, so make notes when you're doing your background research, and act on them.
Before your interview, look back over your notes to refresh your memory, and see if you can find a recent news article about the company to impress the recruiter.
Do you have any questions for us?
If your research has left you with questions, don't worry – that's a good thing! When you come to the 'Do you have any questions?' part of the interview, you will be able to ask intelligent and relevant ones.
- What does the company do? (Products made/services provided.)
- Where is it located?
- Who are its customers/clients?
- Where does it operate and in which markets?
- Who are its main competitors?
- Is it growing? Why – or why not?
- What is it shouting about now?
- What roles are available to graduates and what do they involve?
- What degree backgrounds and qualifications are required?
- What general and specific skills are needed?
- What does the recruitment process involve?
- How do you apply?
- When is the application deadline?
- What are the organisation's 'core values' and aims?
- How does it view itself?
- How is it viewed externally?
- How do you view the organisation?
- Why does working for this organisation appeal to you?