Author Topic: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)  (Read 9044 times)

MayDay

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Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« on: November 19, 2015, 10:47:40 AM »
I have stayed home with kids for 6 years.  Looking to start working again, and I had a phone interview with a company recruiter today. 

I currently have my resume in chronological order as follows:

1.  Product development engineer, 2006-2008:  This was my favorite job and the type of job I want to get
2.  Lab engineer, 2008-2010:  I hated this job but people see it and want to hire me to work in their lab. 
3.  Community contributions:  All the stuff I've done as a SAHM:  education committees, advisory boards, substitute teaching, etc

The recruiter says I should flip flop the order, that people are too tunnel visioned, and the recent community stuff is valuable. 

What do you think?

Unrelated: 
-Linked In pictures.  Apparently I need a profile.  The only pics I have of myself are casual.  In most pics I am with kids or hubby, so the choices of just me are limited. 
-Interview clothes:  I am going in for an informal interview on Tuesday.  For a lab tech job (that I don't want- see above- but may agree to take on a temp basis- they would know it would be temporary).  I don't own a suit and would never wear one to work.  Is dress pants and shoes and a nice sweater set sufficient?  I am 30's, a woman, and I already know the hiring manager casually through our kids.

FWIW I am not 100% set on working, so I'm not willing to go 1000% towards being perfect in all ways (suit, fancy pictures, etc).  But having been out of the workforce awhile, I don't want to do anything really dumb either. 

boarder42

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2015, 11:04:16 AM »
i would put it in chronological order most recent first thats the way all resumes should be done...

sirdoug007

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 11:08:01 AM »
I would put the type of work you want at the top of the list.  I think chronological from the past is fine.  It's not 100% conventional but it will highlight the experience you want to highlight.

As for pictures, get dresses as you would for an interview and get your husband to take a picture of you against a plain wall.  That's really all you need.

JordanOfGilead

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2015, 11:12:46 AM »
Chronological with most recent first with relevant skills and training at the bottom after job experiences. It's the easiest format for most employers to understand and will give you the best chance of getting an interview.
The job of the resume is just to get you an interview. The interview is your chance to highlight the areas that you would like to focus on in moving forward with your career.

Papa bear

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 11:39:51 AM »

I have stayed home with kids for 6 years.  Looking to start working again, and I had a phone interview with a company recruiter today. 

I currently have my resume in chronological order as follows:

1.  Product development engineer, 2006-2008:  This was my favorite job and the type of job I want to get
2.  Lab engineer, 2008-2010:  I hated this job but people see it and want to hire me to work in their lab. 
3.  Community contributions:  All the stuff I've done as a SAHM:  education committees, advisory boards, substitute teaching, etc

The recruiter says I should flip flop the order, that people are too tunnel visioned, and the recent community stuff is valuable. 

What do you think?

Unrelated: 
-Linked In pictures.  Apparently I need a profile.  The only pics I have of myself are casual.  In most pics I am with kids or hubby, so the choices of just me are limited. 
-Interview clothes:  I am going in for an informal interview on Tuesday.  For a lab tech job (that I don't want- see above- but may agree to take on a temp basis- they would know it would be temporary).  I don't own a suit and would never wear one to work.  Is dress pants and shoes and a nice sweater set sufficient?  I am 30's, a woman, and I already know the hiring manager casually through our kids.

FWIW I am not 100% set on working, so I'm not willing to go 1000% towards being perfect in all ways (suit, fancy pictures, etc).  But having been out of the workforce awhile, I don't want to do anything really dumb either.

For your resume, I would look at 2 options, either your traditional reverse chronological (with most recent at the top) or a hybrid chronological/functional (see example here: http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/is-a-combination-resume-right-for-you/article.aspx).   Basically this highlights your skills that you want to showcase while still showing a classic representation of work order below (just very abbreviated)

It's very rare to see your resume option, and honestly they are frowned upon amongst recruiters, talent acquisition, and hiring managers.  Your resume can, and probably will be changed, to a traditional standard for the manager to read it. Make that change yourself so some cluck doesn't do it for you. 

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for finding a job and professional networking.  You don't need "professional" photos done for this; any reasonable photo where you can crop your headshot into will suffice.  Make sure the photo is only you and isn't a "party pic."  Open an account and set up some basics.  No need to complete in its entirety. 

Your attire is sufficient, but not optimal.  Suits are 99% of the time preferable.  You will be judged on your attire for sure.  Maybe not enough to keep you from getting that job or A job, but maybe keep you from getting a specific job.

A previous post stated that a resume is only as good as it can get you an interview.  That is absolutely true.  Once you have the interview, that's your time to sell yourself.

When you do get to the interview stage, remember, you are interviewing them as much they are of you.   You should expect professionalism from them and ask as many important questions that you feel are necessary.  You don't have to work; make sure you aren't jumping into a mess.

And good luck!!

Source: partner in a staffing/recruiting firm.




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MayDay

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2015, 11:42:27 AM »
Blech, I really don't want to spend time looking for a suit jacket that I may never wear again.  Last time I looked at a thrift store they had nothing. 


Papa bear

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 11:45:58 AM »

Blech, I really don't want to spend time looking for a suit jacket that I may never wear again.  Last time I looked at a thrift store they had nothing.

Would you really want to work somewhere that didn't hire you because you weren't wearing a jacket, though?  Think that part through.  You said yourself you don't need the job.  Make sure it's somewhere you want to work.

I would never work somewhere that requires you to be clean shaven, personally, so I'd gladly not get an offer based off of that particular appearance. 


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Faraday

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 11:58:54 AM »
For your resume, I would look at 2 options, either your traditional reverse chronological (with most recent at the top) or a hybrid chronological/functional (see example here: http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/is-a-combination-resume-right-for-you/article.aspx).   Basically this highlights your skills that you want to showcase while still showing a classic representation of work order below (just very abbreviated)

It's very rare to see your resume option, and honestly they are frowned upon amongst recruiters, talent acquisition, and hiring managers.  Your resume can, and probably will be changed, to a traditional standard for the manager to read it. Make that change yourself so some cluck doesn't do it for you. 

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for finding a job and professional networking.  You don't need "professional" photos done for this; any reasonable photo where you can crop your headshot into will suffice.  Make sure the photo is only you and isn't a "party pic."  Open an account and set up some basics.  No need to complete in its entirety. 

Your attire is sufficient, but not optimal.  Suits are 99% of the time preferable.  You will be judged on your attire for sure.  Maybe not enough to keep you from getting that job or A job, but maybe keep you from getting a specific job.

A previous post stated that a resume is only as good as it can get you an interview.  That is absolutely true.  Once you have the interview, that's your time to sell yourself.

When you do get to the interview stage, remember, you are interviewing them as much they are of you.   You should expect professionalism from them and ask as many important questions that you feel are necessary.  You don't have to work; make sure you aren't jumping into a mess.

And good luck!!
Source: partner in a staffing/recruiting firm.

+1 to what Papa Bear says. I regularly write resumes for my friends (I'm an engineer with good resume writing skillz) and in my experience, everything PB says above bears out. (ha, a pun....)

I wrote my wife's resume for her when she went back into the workforce after a six year absence and we tried the "functional resume". As much as we thought it would help, it really didn't. People wanted to see her experience listed in correct chronological order so they could tell if they were talking to an experienced, senior person or not. Headhunting firms want everything and they want it in chronological order too. We abandoned the functional resume format, went back to reverse chronological and it worked just fine. And she was jumping from one career field to the other, one of the most difficult cases. She is now working in that field at the top of her game.

Nowadays, people get it when someone drops out of the workforce to raise their children. It can be a negative when competing with freshly experienced people, but it doesn't wipe out any competencies you might have achieved before, like it used to.

Only comment I can add to this is that depending on the company, wearing a suit may not be all that big a deal, especially for a woman. Beyond knowing if you can do the job, tech and science companies are often more interested in knowing if your personality is a good fit for the organization. They want to get science and engineering done, not have to worry about a hothead that conflicts with their co-workers.

I expect you already know this from your prior job experience, I just wanted to call it out as a data point to throw at you - I don't think you need to do the suit thing.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 12:03:14 PM by Faraday »

ColoradoEng

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2015, 12:21:22 PM »
I think you do the chronological order like the recruiter said.  Companies won't overlook your previous work experience, and your community contributions are pretty significant.

My contacts I have in LinkedIn either have professional photos from an event they went to, or a standard pic of them.  If you really don't want to put on professional clothes and get your husband to take a pic, I think one you already have that you like would work.  My office director has a pic of him skiing so I am unsure if the professional look will affect much.

You can always turn down lab tech jobs and just say you aren't interested.  I used to be a Quality Engineer in the Nuclear Power industry, and I get emails about that job all the time.  I hated it, and just tell them I'm not interested right now.  It's a nice fallback to have, but you don't have to do that work unless you absolutely need a job.

mm1970

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2015, 12:28:07 PM »
Where do you live?

I'm in So Cal, so slacks and a blouse is what I'd wear to an interview.  No jacket.

GuitarStv

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2015, 12:30:52 PM »

Blech, I really don't want to spend time looking for a suit jacket that I may never wear again.  Last time I looked at a thrift store they had nothing.

Would you really want to work somewhere that didn't hire you because you weren't wearing a jacket, though?

Would you really want to lose out on a great job because it didn't look like you put any effort into making yourself presentable?

JordanOfGilead

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2015, 12:32:48 PM »
All I'm saying is that it's the recruiter's job to get you hired. They're going to give you the advice that is most likely to get you an interview, so it's probably best to go with what the recruiter says.

pachnik

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2015, 12:40:21 PM »
I'm not an engineer.  I work as an assistant in a smallish law firm.  When i went for my interview for this job, I wore a suit.  I never wear suits to work but always wear them for interviews.  Not sure if this helps.  Good luck!

MrMoogle

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2015, 01:04:14 PM »
I'm an engineer.  Chronological doesn't make a lot of sense, I'd go at least reverse, although functional would be my recommendation. 

I worked at firms you've never heard of, and my titles didn't represent what I did, so I went with functional.  I've never had it be an issue.  I've been hired twice with it. 

Also, if it's an informal interview, you don't need to wear a suit.  There are some old school companies out there, that expect nice attire.  I work at one, although I work offsite, and as long as I'm fully clothed I'm good.  If you come in for an interview here, and don't wear a suit, you won't be getting a call back, although I don't know about women.  I don't really know enough about women's clothes, so if you have something on the order of a suit, then you'd be ok.  I think my company is really good to work for.

Goldielocks

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2015, 10:27:26 PM »
Chronological order is best.  Add a header about your work objective " I am seeking a position that..."

You can tweak the first line so that the job title appears to not be a lab engineer. Just take the word lab out of the title.  Maybe just engineer or chemical engineer or test engineer.  Downplay it and keep attention on your objective statement. Work history will now look related too.

LinkedIn is not Facebook. I never pu family friends or pets on it. Sparingly with hobbies. All photos professional for work reasons. Get a headshot taken wth your camera while wearing work like clothes. Labcoat is ok.

No suit is fine but make it a bit dressier or expensive looking than normal work clothes.  A nice business blouse with high end sweater. Add jewelery and or polished accessories. Hair is 'done' fingernails groomed ( no paint ok).  I would definitely wear a heel   It can be low and something you could walk a mile in, but no loafers or nurses shoes if you aren't in a suit. I like the comfy but professional knit dress, sweater and scarf or necklace idea.

Good luck!

Eta. Gack! Auto correct struck again. Fixed now. Sorry to put you through that.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2015, 02:17:44 PM by goldielocks »

TheDudeReturns

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2015, 02:08:05 AM »
For #3, you actually were running a consultancy ;) Just "fluff" that up.

ooeei

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2015, 06:55:50 AM »
Would you really want to work somewhere that didn't hire you because you weren't wearing a jacket, though?  Think that part through.  You said yourself you don't need the job.  Make sure it's somewhere you want to work.

I would never work somewhere that requires you to be clean shaven, personally, so I'd gladly not get an offer based off of that particular appearance. 


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Would you really want to hire someone who doesn't care enough about the job to shave and wear reasonable interview clothes? 

You can tell what the office culture is like based on what your interviewers and the people around are wearing.  If you don't like it, then that's fine and you don't have to work there.  The place I work we wear jeans and business casual shirts most of the time, but everyone who I've seen interviewed or hired has worn a suit to the interview.  A suit is like a clean haircut, sure it might not help you with every employer, but it is much more likely to help your chances than it is to hurt them.  If you overdress to an interview you can make a joke about how you were nervous about what to wear and you overdressed, and you'll have a laugh about it with the interviewer.  If you underdress there's not much you can do to recover.

Yes yes, I know, if you're 26 and interviewing at some new tech startup in California or Seattle they're super chill and love it when people come in wearing flip flops and tank tops with a 5 o'clock shadow and won't hire anyone in a suit.  For a mid-30's woman who's been out of the workforce for 6 years looking for an engineering job, wearing "classic" interview clothes will show the employer that she's serious about the job. 

canadian bacon

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2015, 07:52:27 AM »
I would say no to a jacket unless you live in a pretty dressed up area.  Nice shirt/blouse should do the trick as long as it doesn't look casual. Buy a jacket and return it on the way home if you have to.   ha ha

Newest experience first.  Make sure that you highlight what YOU did in the various items for the past 6 years and don't down play it.   I would treat your past 6 years in the following way:

EX:   
2010 - Present:   Various
     Stay at home parent:  Took break from engineering to dedicate time to child and home responsibilities
                                     Handled_____
      education committees:  Part of the following committees:  XXX, YYY, ZZZ
                                     Researched and presented suggestions to ____ on the following subsects

   advisory boards:          Member of a XXX member advisory board to___
   
   substitute teaching:    General education substitute teacher for children ages (x to x)
                                   Responsible to prepare lesson plan
                                   ...

Dee18

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2015, 07:53:41 AM »
Re the interview clothing:  have one of your kids take a picture of you in the pants/sweater look and analyze it critically.  I am small.  The sweater pants look makes me look, as my daughter says, "like such a mom."  I have a female colleague who is 5'10" and looks like a model...she would look elegant in the same outfit. For an interview,  I would dress a notch up from what I would normally wear to work.  Your resume already says"Mom."  That's fine, but your appearance should say, "Professional."

Re the resume:  I'd list all in reverse chronological order, but at the top have a very brief statement of the job you are seeking.  You can change that to match any job you are applying for.

lthenderson

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2015, 08:11:04 AM »
As an engineer, the first item on my resume underneath my name is my objective which states what kind of job I am looking for. This helps employers dial in to that so you aren't flooded with calls from past work experience that you aren't looking to repeat.

After that, I always have a summary section with five or six bullet-ed highlights of skills that I am capable of doing and am looking for in a job.

The third item is my work history in chronological order. I feel having the objective and the summary gives employers a quick run down of what kind of position I am seeking without having to divine it from my lengthy work history.

As for clothes, I've never worked at a place where the engineers were required to wear suits. I always have worn khakis and a nice button up shirt with a tie to the interview though I sometimes discretely ditch it if I'm the only one wearing it during the interview. I would think as a female, khakis and a blouse or a conservative dress would be sufficient. I know when I interviewed people, as long as they were clean, I could care less about their clothes. I was more concerned with how their skills would fit what I was looking for.

sonjak

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2015, 08:31:04 AM »
I'm not an engineer but I work in HR and a good chunk of my time is spent on recruiting (including for engineers) and reviewing resumes. 

Chronological is best.  It's easy to see what you did when, how long you stay at positions, how long you used the skills you claim you have, whether your responsibilities increased over your career, etc.  Functional is annoying to try to piece all of these things together from and usually gives the impression that you're trying to hide something (which people who use this usually are).  Given a choice between a number of great candidates, I will reject the functional outline one for the other.  But I would be happy to give a shot to someone who had  good resume with a gap to raise a family. 

Also, don't worry about going into 2 pages (ie. front and back) or even onto the 3rd.  Use bullet points and be as succinct as possible but also include enough detail to make the recruiter's life easy.  They shouldn't have to call you to find out the specific software programs you used or what types of projects you worked on, etc.  They will only do a follow-up to ask these questions if they don't have more likely looking candidates available.

Note: I liked Canadian Bacon's suggestion of outlining the various things that you did while a SAHM that could be relevant and kept you mentally active.

Totemic

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2015, 12:48:09 PM »
I wore jeans and a t-shirt to the interview for my current tech job, and also have dreadlocks and a full beard. Same with a couple other interviews that ended up with offers. Your clothes definitely don't (or shouldn't) matter :D

GuitarStv

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2015, 01:11:38 PM »
I wore jeans and a t-shirt to the interview for my current tech job, and also have dreadlocks and a full beard. Same with a couple other interviews that ended up with offers. Your clothes definitely don't (or shouldn't) matter :D

I agree that clothing and grooming shouldn't matter at all for a technical position.  I have found however, that often they do.

Serious question . . .

Let's say you're in charge of hiring someone.  Given the choice of two candidates with equal experience would you hire the one who has obviously made an effort to be presentable, or the one who doesn't care?  If the latter, why?

MayDay

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2015, 08:43:32 AM »
I will definitely change my resume around.  That was easy, since it was unanimous :)

Still waffling on interview clothes.  I will definitely not be following Goldielocks' advice of "add jewelry and or polished accessories. Hair is 'done' fingernails groomed ( no paint ok).  I would definitely wear a heel."  Because that is sooooo far from me, and I don't even own any of that nonsense like heels.  I'm curious if you are an engineer, Goldielocks, because wearing steel toe boots would be a more appropriate shoe choice for pretty much all the engineer interviews I have been on.  I know I will be having a lab tour where closed toe shoes are definitely required, and I will have to put on toe clips if I am not wearing steel toes. 

H works at the company, and it is casual.  Like, some people wear business casual, but some jeans.  He told me last night when I was complaining about suits that the last guy H interviewed wore khakis and a dress shirt for his interview and got an offer.

So at this point I am still undecided.  If I buy anything it will be a grey jacket, not a full suit.  Then I can wear it with the black dress pants I already own.  I cannot fathom any situation where black slacks and a grey suit jacket wouldn't be dressy enough. 

Where can one buy reasonably priced ladies suit jackets that don't look to young nor too old ladyish? 

shusherstache

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2015, 09:19:11 AM »
If you have a consignment shop nearby those can be helpful. Otherwise, I'd look at JC Penney - there are a couple of Worthington grey suit jackets over there that might fit your not-frumpy-nor-trendy requirements.

RunsWithMoney

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2015, 09:28:37 AM »
I am a female engineer in my thirties who has worked at two major corporations.  One was one of the big liberal tech companies in the Bay Area and the other a more conservative big tech company outside of the Bay Area.  I am a cubicle engineer, and it is rare that I go into a lab or a manufacturing area, alhough I work with many peers who are in there regularly.  Day to day I almost exclusively wear jeans, as do many of peers, although some folks who have been around the conservative company much longer still wear khakis and a button down M-Th (jeans on Friday). Now that you get the atmosphere, what I wore to interview at both companies was the same: very nice gray slacks, a black closed toe shoe with a comfortable low kitten heel, and a nice blouse with a black cardigan.  I have never worn a full suit.  Most men don't know exactly how a woman should dress, and this outfit looks very professional while also giving me individual pieces I can outside of the inteview setting (including work!).  At some companies in the Bay Area, full suits can even be frowned upon as being really out of touch with company culture.  We warmed up much more to a guy in his fifties who came in wearing khakis, a sport coat, and no tie than a guy in his forties wearing a full suit.  The older guy with no tie seemed more youthful. Good luck!

Goldielocks

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2015, 10:51:02 PM »
Still waffling on interview clothes.  I will definitely not be following Goldielocks' advice of "add jewelry and or polished accessories. Hair is 'done' fingernails groomed ( no paint ok).  I would definitely wear a heel."  Because that is sooooo far from me, and I don't even own any of that nonsense like heels.  I'm curious if you are an engineer, Goldielocks, because wearing steel toe boots would be a more appropriate shoe choice for pretty much all the engineer interviews I have been on.  I know I will be having a lab tour where closed toe shoes are definitely required, and I will have to put on toe clips if I am not wearing steel toes. 


Ha! It depends on where you are interviewing.  If I am interviewing at the manufacturing plant itself, then yes, I do bring my steel toe boots.  They come with me, and are set down in the corner, because there is no way that I am leaving the interview without a chance to walk the floor.  My work is consulting, so my interviews are with new clients, and therefore I get a lot of them every year.

Nearly all my jobs have been at least 60% of the time at the office, usually more, with the remainder as floor or "field" time.  Usually distribution warehouses, sewage treatment plants, hospital laundries, bloodwork labs, food plants, etc, etc,.   I don't do full time (by choice) at the construction site which is one of the places that khakis and a sweater set with steel toes would fit in well for an interview.

When I say heel, I am talking about a 1 inch, chunky heel, that you could teach a full day seminar in, walk around the hospital like the managers do, or walk across a grassy field without looking like an idiot.   e.g., something nicer than a nursing loafer, and polished leather.   

Your clothes should be dressier than normal work day, which is why I indicated accessories.  I find that a necklace or scarf with a blouse and quality cardigan and dress slacks can work well, no suit required, if everything looks groomed.   It quickly transfers into no jewelery, no scarf, steel toes and a lab coat to walk the floor, in about as much time as it takes the interviewer to find the visitor name tags.  This is another reason I hate fancy suits -- you have to be more careful on the floor with them.

The key is to put out a decidedly "NOT A MOM" vibe, (which the last guy interviewed was not fighting with) so erring on the less comfy side may be in your favour.  You indicated that you don't want to wear a suit or blazer, and that can be fine for women, if everything else is polished.  Runswithmoney has the right idea for the interview.

If you are applying for a job moving boxes, operating a forklift, yelling at construction workers, or working with tools, then looking prepared to actually work is more important than looking polished.  Your post made it seem like the type of engineering work you would want involved working with a computer at a desk, though, with a lab interview coming up, not drilling supervisor.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2015, 11:13:56 PM by goldielocks »

SachaFiscal

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #27 on: November 22, 2015, 01:35:24 PM »
If it were me I would wear a suit. I'm a software engineer that works at a company with a very casual atmosphere. However in several interview discussions I've heard interviewers comment if a person wasn't dressed up nicely for the interview. First impressions are important.  I would get a conservative dark blue skirt or pantsuit with nice but comfortable shoes.  Make sure you research the company and have some insightful questions for the interviewers. It really makes a difference.

Totemic

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #28 on: November 22, 2015, 03:23:24 PM »
I wore jeans and a t-shirt to the interview for my current tech job, and also have dreadlocks and a full beard. Same with a couple other interviews that ended up with offers. Your clothes definitely don't (or shouldn't) matter :D
Serious question . . .

Let's say you're in charge of hiring someone.  Given the choice of two candidates with equal experience would you hire the one who has obviously made an effort to be presentable, or the one who doesn't care?  If the latter, why?

Well I personally would hire the one that did better in the technical interview...if they did an absolutely equal job in interview performance and experience, I would hire whichever one I got along with better, which would most likely be the one that didn't dress up (that's just my own personal preference though).

CanuckExpat

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #29 on: November 23, 2015, 12:34:25 AM »
I wore jeans and a t-shirt to the interview for my current tech job, and also have dreadlocks and a full beard. Same with a couple other interviews that ended up with offers. Your clothes definitely don't (or shouldn't) matter :D

I agree that clothing and grooming shouldn't matter at all for a technical position.  I have found however, that often they do.

Serious question . . .

Let's say you're in charge of hiring someone.  Given the choice of two candidates with equal experience would you hire the one who has obviously made an effort to be presentable, or the one who doesn't care?  If the latter, why?

I like the summary and thoughts in this article
Quote
I would argue that wearing jeans and a t-shirt is your dominant strategy:
If you are a good student, then a department that will not give you a job because of your "sloppy" appearance does not deserve to have you.
If you are mediocre, then there are many other candidates like you and dressing casually is the only way for you to get noticed.

They also point out that there is a gendered component to this (which I don't have experience with):
Quote
A female candidate must walk a knife's edge. Too many feminine frills and she risks not being taken seriously; too few and she is seen as unattractive. Dressing like a man sends entirely the wrong signal, . Unlike male candidates, they face an added challenge: not looking like one of the administrative staff

I this it's worth a read. It's all signaling!

MayDay

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #30 on: November 23, 2015, 07:17:45 AM »
Still waffling on interview clothes.  I will definitely not be following Goldielocks' advice of "add jewelry and or polished accessories. Hair is 'done' fingernails groomed ( no paint ok).  I would definitely wear a heel."  Because that is sooooo far from me, and I don't even own any of that nonsense like heels.  I'm curious if you are an engineer, Goldielocks, because wearing steel toe boots would be a more appropriate shoe choice for pretty much all the engineer interviews I have been on.  I know I will be having a lab tour where closed toe shoes are definitely required, and I will have to put on toe clips if I am not wearing steel toes. 


Ha! It depends on where you are interviewing.  If I am interviewing at the manufacturing plant itself, then yes, I do bring my steel toe boots.  They come with me, and are set down in the corner, because there is no way that I am leaving the interview without a chance to walk the floor.  My work is consulting, so my interviews are with new clients, and therefore I get a lot of them every year.

Nearly all my jobs have been at least 60% of the time at the office, usually more, with the remainder as floor or "field" time.  Usually distribution warehouses, sewage treatment plants, hospital laundries, bloodwork labs, food plants, etc, etc,.   I don't do full time (by choice) at the construction site which is one of the places that khakis and a sweater set with steel toes would fit in well for an interview.

When I say heel, I am talking about a 1 inch, chunky heel, that you could teach a full day seminar in, walk around the hospital like the managers do, or walk across a grassy field without looking like an idiot.   e.g., something nicer than a nursing loafer, and polished leather.   

Your clothes should be dressier than normal work day, which is why I indicated accessories.  I find that a necklace or scarf with a blouse and quality cardigan and dress slacks can work well, no suit required, if everything looks groomed.   It quickly transfers into no jewelery, no scarf, steel toes and a lab coat to walk the floor, in about as much time as it takes the interviewer to find the visitor name tags.  This is another reason I hate fancy suits -- you have to be more careful on the floor with them.

The key is to put out a decidedly "NOT A MOM" vibe, (which the last guy interviewed was not fighting with) so erring on the less comfy side may be in your favour.  You indicated that you don't want to wear a suit or blazer, and that can be fine for women, if everything else is polished.  Runswithmoney has the right idea for the interview.

If you are applying for a job moving boxes, operating a forklift, yelling at construction workers, or working with tools, then looking prepared to actually work is more important than looking polished.  Your post made it seem like the type of engineering work you would want involved working with a computer at a desk, though, with a lab interview coming up, not drilling supervisor.

Very good points on the not-a-mom vibe.  I hadn't thought of that. 

I coached the hiring manager's kid in soccer last fall.  So she definitely knows I am a mom, lol.  In fact, she said on the phone that me organizing all the preschoolers made her think I would be good at organizing the lab techs!

MayDay

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #31 on: November 23, 2015, 07:21:35 AM »
I do know the the company has a push to hire more females which can't hurt (they don't have many right now, especially higher up, so they are trying to get more technical staff in at lower levels so it trickles up). 

I am not at risk for looking to frilly, I don't own that kind of stuff.  I think I am average on looks, but a healthy weight, which sadly is less and less common and helps with attractiveness points and cheaper clothes looking decent.  And I'm not talking about not dressing up at all, just slacks and a dressy sweater vs. a suit.

Off to visit 2 thrift stores and then Penney's.   If those 3 don't have anything, I am wearing the sweater. 

MayDay

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #32 on: November 23, 2015, 11:20:02 AM »
Thrift store update:  the 2nd thrift store had a huge rack of women's suits.  I tried on about 15 of them, and found a charcoal jacket that fit perfectly.  Casual Corner brand:  anyone remember that store?  I think I got my first suit there during college. 

$4.50. 

Meowmalade

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #33 on: November 23, 2015, 11:31:01 AM »
Thrift store update:  the 2nd thrift store had a huge rack of women's suits.  I tried on about 15 of them, and found a charcoal jacket that fit perfectly.  Casual Corner brand:  anyone remember that store?  I think I got my first suit there during college. 

$4.50.

The only suit I own (a charcoal sleeveless dress with a matching jacket) is from Casual Corner  :)  I haven't actually ever worn it but I have it in the closet just in case I should ever need to wear it for an interview or something.

Nice score!

RecoveringCarClown

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Re: Engineers: should I do what this recruiter said? (Resume)
« Reply #34 on: November 23, 2015, 11:35:59 AM »
There is certainly a push in tech to attempt gender balance.  I welcome it too, even if it does give you an edge for two otherwise identical candidates.  I have personally hired women engineers in tech and in my opinion you are on the right track.  Looking pleasant while not overboard is what I would suggest. 

One interview tip that is not gender specific; shoot yourself with an optimism gun before you walk in the door.  Seriously. The interviewer won't remember how you were dressed if you blow them away with a positive attitude!  I have watched very competent engineers get passed over because they were as exciting to converse with as a loaf a bread. Yes, that is not exactly the same as 'happiness' but very related.

Optimism is contagious and leaving someone with a good feeling always pays off. I watched first hand as a manager argued for higher salary for a new employee simply because they were more excited about this person.  At that time we were hiring several NCG's (new college grads) and they all had a similar level of experience.  The guy that was super positive stood out and he was given more money.  In the long run he was not really any different and was actually surpassed by some of the people hired the same day.  However he started a leg up, and anyone can do it. 

How Top Companies Aim to Close the Gender Gap in Tech
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/252187