The 5 Reasons Why engineers are jobless?

Why engineers are jobless? Many reasons contribute to jobless engineers. Some reasons are the fault of engineers, while others are from outside influences.

I’m going to go over the five main reasons I see most often. This will show it’s not a black-and-white answer to why some engineers are jobless. At the same time, by understanding these reasons, you can learn how to improve your chances of landing a job.

#1 Poor interview skills

engineer job loss

First impressions matter a lot.

If you can’t properly interview, you’ll never land a job. It doesn’t matter if you apply to 500 jobs and get 500 interviews. You’ll just simply fail 500 interviews.

You need to be able to properly present yourself to an employer. Especially, when you’re competing with many talented engineers who are job hunting.

To increase your chance of passing an interview, you need to master the following:

  • Great communication
  • Solid technical understanding of subjects in the jobs you’re interviewing for
  • Confidence in how you speak and present yourself

To help in your interview prep, check out these articles I’ve written:

What’s more, master the Elon Musk interview question that will make or break you. This way for sure you can do great in interviews.

In the end, practice and practice your interviewing skills some more. Properly marketing and selling yourself is a skill you need to fine-tune.

#2 Lack of interest in engineering

Some people were never passionate about engineering, to begin with. Thus, they don’t have the drive to do what’s necessary to job hunt, especially in a competitive market.

I’m talking about applying to countless jobs. While submitting awesome customized resumes and cover letters for every job.

What’s more, leveling yourself up as an engineer. Thus, making yourself a better engineer in every way imaginable.

This includes learning all the detailed theories, and the real-world application of your subject of expertise.

Without a passion, you won’t self-study religiously. Also, you won’t send out resumes and cover letters like your life depended on it.

All because your mind is roaming elsewhere. Maybe you’re tired of engineering and you want a career change. So, you can’t muster up the strength to 100% focus on bettering your engineering self.

When this happens, it’s already the beginning of the end.

You won’t be able to compete with dedicated engineers who are fighting tooth and nail for jobs. Because you’re complacent, while other engineers go the extra mile.

#3 Too picky 

Here’s your list of requirements for your next engineering job:

  • Awesome pay with stock options and health benefits
  • Perfect location near your family with year-round sun
  • Flexible hours with an option for remote work
  • Full autonomy
  • Challenging and fulfilling work
  • A specific type of work culture
  • Free food

It’s one thing to be picky, but this list is way overboard.

You’ll forever be searching for this unicorn job. Plus even if this job exists, you don’t have as much leverage when you’re unemployed.

For example, I have some engineering friends who won’t take a job outside of San Francisco. To top it off, their pay needs to be no less than $200,000 per year with added stock options. Needless to say, they’re still freelancing as they continue their job search.

So who’s at fault here?…

When you’re unemployed, you can’t be too picky. As it’s the surefire way to have job opportunities pass you by. Especially in down job markets where employers are beyond picky themselves.

The better approach is to first accept a decent job. Thereafter, you can pivot accordingly to a new job. You’ll also have greater leverage too then.

#4 Searching in a bad job market

dow jones industrial average
A matchup of the % difference of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1937 to 1943 compared to 2008 to Jan 2011 (Photo Credit: Banaticus)

Industry downturns are difficult for everyone. Even engineers.

If you searched for a job in the 2008 Great Recession, you probably had a heck of a time landing a job.

What’s more, with every passing year, you had to compete with new graduates who flooded the market too.

These economic dips are out of your control. So naturally, sometimes you’re just unlucky and you end up searching for a job in the worst of times.

Employment certainly becomes hard fast when the following all happen at once:

  • No newly created engineering jobs
  • High supply of engineers
  • An endless wave of layoffs

In these situations, you need to make yourself the best engineer possible. No ifs or buts about it.

All my go-getter engineering friends haven’t been without a job for longer than 3 months. All because they’re willing to push themselves further than their peers. They do the following:

  • Endlessly send out custom resumes and cover letters
  • Reach out to their network of colleagues
  • Fine-tune their existing knowledge, while learning more and more
  • Remain positive despite long stretches of unemployment
  • Work on their interview skills and practice with mock job interviews

Important Note: in downturns, companies will hire experienced engineers over new graduates.

Because companies don’t have the budget to train new hires. Training engineers is an involved and resource-intensive process

Even a strong foundation in engineering theory won’t cut it. You still probably won’t be profitable for a company. Because experience in engineering trumps formal education

So it’s a different ballgame when you compare experienced engineers and new graduates.

#5 Not employable

Not every engineer is employable for one reason or another.

At the end of the day, employers want to profit off the back of their employees. If you can’t produce quality work consistently, your company will fire you. It’s basic economics.

A big reason for this is the poor engineering education system. Engineering education today needs major reform.

Just having an “engineering” title hanging over your head means absolutely nothing. Labels and letters after your name carry no weight when it’s time to get to work. Especially when people find out you can’t even do a basic calculation.

Also, not all engineers have employable qualities.

Here are some articles I’ve written on how to boost your employability:

In today’s working world, you need to make yourself an awesome engineer. It’s the only way you’ll stand out among your peers.

So, your technical abilities need to constantly evolve through new learning. This means constant self-studying to improve your knowledge base.

Also, it’s expected you’re an all-around great person. No one wants to work with an asshole.

“Why engineers are jobless?” wrap up

Clearly, engineers are jobless for many reasons. But at the end of the day, a lot of the blame is on the engineers themselves.

In today’s globalized market with automation kicking in, you need to maximize your marketability. Otherwise, you’ll quickly get lost in the mix of other job-hunting engineers.

Sure, you may still have a difficult time finding a job. But instead of it taking 24 months, you’ll find a job in 12 months.

So it goes without saying, you may not instantly land your dream job. And that’s totally okay. Because you’ll now have a stepping stone to inch closer to your dream job.

So, don’t give up, and continue making yourself a more awesome engineer every day.

Why do you think engineers are jobless? Do you think engineers are more to blame or outside factors when it comes to unemployment?


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