Researching graduate employers: boost your chances and get that engineering job!
Before you start applying for engineering jobs and attending interviews, it’s essential to do some research. Graduate recruiter Steve Rodgers 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. 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?
‘Working on interesting projects is a major attraction for graduates,’ Steve says. ‘If they’ve done their research, they’re eager to demonstrate the areas of an employer’s business that interest them the most.’ 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
‘The likelihood of applicants being asked about their knowledge of the company is pretty much a given,’ Steve points out. But what should you find out? ‘Look for a range of company information: size, structure, culture, key projects, development opportunities and strategic plans, for example,’ he advises. Make sure you investigate the position to check that you fit the bill and look into the organisation’s culture to see whether it would suit you.
‘Nearly all applicants do some research, so it’s the level of preparation that makes a difference,’ adds Steve. ‘The kind of information that impresses me is knowledge of key projects being undertaken, major technologies and industry developments, recent topical company news and industry and professional awards.’
Make sure your research is detailed enough to be useful: ‘Employers aren’t interested in having basic information like their sales turnover fed back to them.’ 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,’ Steve points out. ‘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. 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 – most papers have an ‘industry’ or ‘engineering’ header under their ‘business’ tab.
’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?