If the stock markets are any indicator of health for the world's economies, then most of us are doing pretty well. Whether directly in the money stream as an investor or a business owner, practically everyone is benefiting from the good times. Let us hope they continue for a long time.
One indicator in particular of a robust economy is the level of employment, which has as a key component hiring. A lot of people who cannot accept that we are thriving will try throwing cold water on the enthusiasm by saying that sure, a lot of hiring is taking place, but the jobs are as hamburger flippers and greeters at Wal-Mart. Their sullen ignorance overlooks the fact that as the economy expands and population grows, every level of job needs its worker number expanded. The doom-and-gloom types fail to recognize that some of the job openings are due to people previously filling those slots moving up in stature and pay. They also conveniently forget to notice that the high-skilled, high-paying jobs are increasing as well.
The electronics, and in particular the RF / microwave / wireless worlds are expanding by leaps and bounds, and most companies that employ engineers, according to many recent polls, are hiring. (see EE Times, for example). Even so, the chorus of complaints about all of our best engineering jobs being farmed out overseas, or being taken here by H1-B visa holders, can be heard echoing across the pages of trade magazines and message boards (forums, blogs, etc.). The truth of the matter is that many design and consulting firms are having a hard time finding qualified applicants.
A search on Dice.com just turned up 23,163 jobs using the term "engineer." Monster.com will not tell you how many jobs it has listed, but doing a search on "RF Engineer" turned up "…more than 1000." Dittos for "Wireless Engineer." There are 699 jobs for a "Radar Engineer." The Defense Talent Network returns, "more than 500" listings when searched using "Engineer." Admittedly, some of those listings are redundant since it is possible that more than one recruiter could post the same job as a representative of a particular hiring company.
The point is that there is plenty of work available for qualified people. Part of being qualified, which is a big stumbling block to a lot of people, is a willingness to relocate to where the job exists. Many folks cannot or will not pull up roots and move to a new city, even if it means finally getting the jobs they really want. It is hard to legitimately complain about not being able to find work if you insist that the job comes to you.
Unfortunately, the futuristic predictions that by now most of us would be able to work remotely from anywhere on Earth just have not come to fruition. Then again, neither has the flying car or the paperless office. For now, most of us will have to either commute to a workplace, or figure out a way to make a living working from home. Until my envelope-stuffing business pays off as handsomely as promised in the advertisement that I responded to in the back of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, I, too, shall be commuting for a while longer.
Many fellow engineers eschew the practice of visiting job boards in search of greener pasture because of the horror stories about being subsequently hounded by those who make a living hunting heads. An eternity of unsolicited phone calls and e-mails often follows a casual, non-intimate contact with a job board. It is akin to putting up a "For Sale By Owner" sign and receiving barrage of calls from obnoxious real estate agents wanting to list your house or extract a commission if they bring buyers to your door. If I want an agent, I will call one. If I want a recruiter, I will call one. Most people feel the same way.
One way to avoid the hassle is to only deal directly with company human resources department, or better yet, with hiring managers. The latter is nearly impossible unless you know someone inside the organization. The former is done by visiting company websites and submitting an application per their instructions (hint: ALWAYS do exactly as they instruct or risk being eliminated immediately – ingenuity can be demonstrated later).
Another way to deal directly with a company is to look for and respond to job descriptions posted on third-party engineering websites. Merely by coincidence, RF Café now happens to be one of those very websites! Just this week we formally launched RF Cafe Jobs to fulfill this need. The plan is to limit jobs postings to only directly hiring employers. As of this writing, we have our first four jobs from two different companies – listed. A third company is in process now. The feedback I am getting from the companies is that their engineers are regular visitors of RF Café and believe that this will be a good venue for attracting qualified people. I couldn’t agree more.
So, I encourage you, I beseech you, to take a few minutes to look at the RFCafe Jobs webpage, even if you have no immediate plans to change jobs or hire anyone. Comments are always welcome.