Is It Time for a Job Change? Part 228 Jul, 2021 By: Robert Green
Whether you are ready for a change now or not, it’s important to keep your professional details current, clean, and concise.
In the last edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I addressed an often-asked question I get about making a job change. In that installment, I gave you some homework to help decide if you really want to make a change or simply work on making your current situation better. If you haven’t, you might want to read our last installment for proper context.
In this edition, our focus will be on getting ready for the job search by taking a variety of steps to make you a better, more marketable CAD manager — steps that’ll also pay off nicely for you even if you don’t want to change jobs! Here goes.
Image source: gustavofrazao/stock.adobe.com.
Spruce Up Your Social
Whether you’re changing jobs or not you’re constantly being judged by your social media presence, so it pays to have everything in order. Here are a few minimum required steps to get your social media under control:
Clean up your posts. Go through your social media posts and ask yourself, “Do I want to explain this to a human resources person during an interview?” Pictures of you coaching your kids, attending a concert, or funny memes that show your personality are fine and likely positive. On the other hand, profanity, extreme politics, or pictures of drunken exploits should go. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram, the rules are the same — if you don’t want a hiring manager to see or read it, then delete it.
Update LinkedIn. LinkedIn is where the action is at, so make sure you’re putting your best career foot forward there by having your career timeline, certifications, and bio current.
Update bio/profile on other membership sites. User groups, volunteer groups, community theater, or any other web site you are active on should be updated as well. These types of activities reflect well on you, so make sure you manage your media presence there as well.
When you start a job search, you’re essentially throwing yourself open to investigation of your background and experience. Companies and recruiters will use your social media presence to do this investigation, so it behooves you to have everything in proper order BEFORE you start your search. I can’t stress this enough.
Self-Assessment of Your Skills
So, what is it you do well? What are your weaknesses? How would you describe yourself? What type of projects do you enjoy working on? You know you’ll be asked these things in a job interview, right? And, even if you’re not changing jobs, isn’t it a good idea to know the answers to these questions for yourself?
Let’s do a self-assessment homework assignment. You’ll need a pen, notepad, and a few uninterrupted minutes to write down your positive and negative assets as you might present them in a job interview. To give you an idea of what I mean here is my personal self-assessment:
- I’m an experienced mechanical design engineer who became a CAD manager.
- Languages I can speak: CAD, Engineering, Accounting, Management.
- I’m good at using programming tools to automate tasks.
- I have a persistent “How can we do this better?” persona.
- I’m good at communication and teaching CAD users.
- I have extensive experience in writing and public speaking.
- I’m very comfortable creating budgets and analyzing purchases.
- I have a solid knowledge of IT concepts and tools.
- I can easily explain technical concepts to non-technical people.
- My real joy is found by working through complex projects and seeing all players — from CAD users to upper management — enjoy the results of a job well done.
- I have little patience for those who won’t learn or work hard, and my management style sometimes reflects that.
- I lack practical experience in building and civil trades which makes me BIM weak.
Almost any interviewer will ask you to explain your good points and most will corner you into describing a weakness. By preparing for these questions, you’ll do better in an interview and probably learn something about yourself in the process.
Work on Weaknesses First
Everyone loves to lead with their strengths but true personal growth is achieved by working on your weaknesses. By tackling your weaknesses head-on you’ll do better in your current job and be better prepared should you change jobs. So, how to tackle the weaknesses?
- Admit the weaknesses you have.
- Address knowledge gaps aggressively.
Here’s an example of admitting a weakness in an interview context:
If asked “What is a weakness you have?” by an interviewer, you could respond in a way that acknowledges the negative, while framing it in a way that shouldn’t hurt you — like this:
“I sometimes find that I’m not tolerant of CAD users who don’t give a good effort to learn new methods or follow best practices and you may notice that in my management style. I try to balance this aspect of my personality by telling users upfront that great effort and adherence to standards is expected so they won’t be surprised if I’m upset with them if they don’t follow the standards.”
And, here’s a game plan for dealing with skill gaps:
Read everything you can and try out any evaluation software you can download to build basic skills. While this approach won’t make you an expert, it will fill in vocabulary gaps, alert you to industry trends, and make you much more aware of what you may need to learn if expertise in a new skill area becomes necessary. Bonus: You can do all of this at no cost to you other than your time!
Your Attitudinal Tune-Up
Have you become apathetic in your current role? Has your level of mental preparation gone from “aggressively striving to do things better” to “grudging acceptance of how bad things are”? If so, SNAP OUT OF IT! Start approaching your job with a renewed vigor. Try using these steps:
- Think about how you could run projects better.
- Think about how standards could alleviate problems.
- Create a list of errors that are frequently made.
- Devise a plan for how you’d change things if you were permitted to.
- Think about how training could make things work better if you were permitted to run a full program.
- Think of what you’d like senior management to understand about your position.
By thinking along these lines — even if your current boss won’t give you permission to take the steps — you’ll awaken your mind and kickstart your creative processes. In short, you’ll get sharper which will pay off in interviews while making you all the more valuable to your current company if you stay.
Update Your Resume
No matter what your job circumstances may be, there are several things you should always be sure you have up to date, those being:
Skills inventory. What skills do you have even though you may not be using them all at your current job? No matter how insignificant a skill may seem it could be marketable to someone. Take some time to catalog all the software you know, management skills you have, etc. As companies struggle to hire more versatile employees, they’re always looking for those who have a wide variety of skills.
Education and certification summary. A listing of all college studies and degrees comes first, then certification programs come next. Finally, any partially completed study programs can be listed to show a continued commitment to your educational pursuits. While some jobs do require college degrees many do not, but all employers are looking for people who are willing to learn and put in effort to educate themselves.
Work history. All pertinent dates, job titles, responsibilities, and software proficiencies should be listed with emphasis on your CAD management skill set. Be sure to include the high notes from your skills inventory and educational background as well.
Now it’s time to start exploring new possibilities via LinkedIn, personal references, or recruiters. You’ve done the hard work already, now it’s time to get that interview.
Finally — Craft Your Elevator Pitch
Imagine you’re riding in the elevator with the CEO of a company you want to work for. You’ve got at most a minute to explain why the company should hire you. What do you say?
This short speech, called an elevator pitch, is something you should be able to recite calmly and professionally to any recruiter, interviewer, or human resources professional you talk to. Here’s what a good elevator pitch does:
It states what you want. What job are you looking for?
It states why you want to work there. What about this company captured your attention?
It states how can you help them. A quick summary of qualifications that make you the right person for their needs.
It asks for the chance to have a more in-depth discussion. Make sure you ask for the chance to talk more.
Think about this elevator pitch carefully, write it out, rehearse it, and make sure you can recite it naturally in less than 60 seconds. In all likelihood, your elevator pitch will be your first communication in a job interview and what gets you a follow up interview after an initial contact so you should absolutely give it all the attention needed until you’ve got it down.
During my career, I’ve seen many things change in CAD management but the occasional need to switch jobs remains the constant. The good news is that by following the steps I’ve given you, you’ll know yourself better and will be ready to nail any interview that comes your way.
Whether you’re searching for a new job in earnest, thinking about it, or are totally happy where you are, I hope you’ll find the career management concepts we’ve covered in this series useful in assessing the status of your career. I’ve found it is never a bad idea to be prepared. Until next time.