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unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 11:14
Hello everyone,

Here is the story:

graduate with BS degree in 2006
graduate with MS degree in 2009

unemployed since graduation. by September 2011, i will be 3 years unemployed and 5 years of no experience since BS degree.

keep in mind that i am an immigrant (speak with an accent) living in DC where most of jobs are out of my field and/or require TSC. and jobs in my field are too far for me to be worthwhile of companies to relocate me.

does this sound normal, giving the current economic recession?

that was the reaction of one recruiter who contacted me recently.

thank you
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 11:15
i meant to say that the recruiter's reaction was "surprised"
oldfieldguy (Electrical)
11 Apr 11 11:20
I know companies in the Louisiana/Texas Gulf Coast area that might be interested, if you're interested in going where the work is.

old field guy

unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 11:32

thank you for replying and offering to help. yes, I would be interested.

however, i would also like to hear comments and reactions in order to put myself in perspective and understand whether or not I am deluded.

for instance, what are the long-term implications on my career and competence with regards to my age group? will a PhD degree give me an edge and bring me back to a competitive level and compensate for lost experience years?
ctopher (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 11:39
If you are a US citizen, look into government jobs.

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Ron (Structural)
11 Apr 11 12:18
The PhD will not greatly help you in industry, but offers another employment possibility (teaching) once you get some experience.  The job market might be a bit better after you get your PhD than now.

Otherwise, take oldfieldguy's advice and go where the work is.
Helpful Member!  rbulsara (Electrical)
11 Apr 11 12:25
This is not really normal! Where have you looked?

Rant Alert!

In the USA ( I assume you are referring to DC as in the USA), experience trumps degrees any day, except in R&D type work. While academic knowledge is necessary, it is by no means sufficient to succeed in a world where you have to deal with people.

BS degree is all you need to get started and even to succeed. You can always get higher degrees later. Higher degrees are valuable only with relevant experience.

For entry level positions even non-engineering work experience is a great plus. As it shows that you are not shy of hard work and would do whatever it takes to be on your own!

You need to start looking for entry level jobs and you will be competing with people with BS degrees. Get some experience before you go after higher degrees. This will not only make you more valuable and employable but most employer will also reimburse some costs for higher education, especially if it is related to their business.

If you go after more degrees without real experience, life will only get more difficult.  I would also think that enrolling in PHD requires some experience.

As for being an immigrant and having accent, they are no excuses or hindrance and I speak from first hand experience.

Some other hints:
Recruiters are of no real use for entry level work. You can contact them but do not hold your breath for them to help. I would say 80% of openings in the USA are NOT advertised. Because advertizing and process of interviewing is expensive!  Most entry level or lower positions are filled by referrals of current employees or walk-ins or current resumes (less than 3 mo old). Your best bet is to knock on doors in your area and try to contact companies of interest directly.  Try to speak with engineers and not HR. It is a difficult and frustrating process but in the end remember that you only need to find one willing employer not worry about 1000 nay sayers.

Join local associations and chapter for engineering professionals. Most will not charge fees or offer discounts for students and the unemployed. Talk to friends and relatives and their friends. Such networking would be much more productive.

Rafiq Bulsara

unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 12:31

thanks for input. i have applied everywhere. i've use linkedin/indeed/monster/careerbuilder/university job bank/craigslist and even googling the job title. i did get some phone interviews but nothing beyond that. it seems that there is always someone who is better and is at the right time and place to take the job.

from the couple of replies, i get the feeling that my situation is extremely odd.
zdas04 (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 12:34
You are already being beat up as "over qualified" with an MS.  A PhD would just about make you unemployable outside of academia or one of the vanishingly small industrial research concerns.

As I've said many times in this forum, a graduate degree without experience tends to be viewed by industry as a liability--you'll want more money because of the MS, but you will still be an entry-level engineer that may or may not ever make them a dime.  On the other hand if you have a few years of successful experience then your MS (and possibly a PhD, but that is tougher) becomes an asset.

I wish you were the first person to stay in school after a BS and having trouble finding a job, but you're not.  We get people asking similar questions to yours every few months.  It is sad.  Industry views academic credentials as the price of admission, not as something that will always add value to their company.  Too many people come out of college ill-equipped to master the tasks required and with their heads full of information and techniques that are basically worthless to industry (ask any of us when was the last time we had to find an Eigenvector).

I don't know your specifics (e.g., do you have decent interview skills?  do you have a useful resume? etc.), but if you feel that work in your area of interest is in short supply in D.C., then start looking elsewhere.  The Gulf Coast is booming right now.  The Marcellus Shale play is creating a crazy labor market in Pennsylvania.  North Dakota is nuts (I read the other day that their unemployment rate is lower than the minimum possible that the economists talk about).  Think of it like the dust bowl--if you can't work where you are you need to go where the work is.

Good Luck

unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 12:39
Rafiq Bulsara

thanks for your input. yes. i have been applying to entry-level and technician jobs only. and not just EE.

DC is washington,DC
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 12:45
thanks zdas04 for input

yes. i've applied everywhere in US and even around the globe.

my master degree in computer process control which is considered an advantage in this field, especially for petrochemical/chemical industries where they deploy advanced control systems. i have friends who successfully got hired with huge salaries in this field after completing MS/PhD or even post-doctoral. As for me, I kept myself open minded and applied to technician and BSc entry-level jobs.
Helpful Member!  MintJulep (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 12:51
What are the differences between you and your now employed friends?

Your friends are now "insiders".  Are you in contact with them?   
delagina (Structural)
11 Apr 11 13:01
do you require visa sponsorship?
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 13:08
thanks MintJulep

i also have friend who found it hard after graduation due to recession. yes, i do keep contact with the closer ones. they gave me permission to use them as referrals on online applications.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 13:09

i am a permanent resident
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 13:15
basically, i have been applying for almost 3 years using different techniques and resume formats.

thanks to all for the helpful suggestions. what bothers me the most is the psychological obstacle of realizing that i am 5 years out of BSc with no career, while I can/could. i hope this does not leave a scar and hinder me psychologically in the future when i start working as an engineer
flash3780 (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 13:27
There's always some work somewhere. The US is a big country. The world is even bigger. Unless you have specific ties to Washington DC, you can almost certainly find a job with your credentials. For starters, you may consider contract work to build up some experience. The amount of time out of school is a negative. Still, keep your hopes up and your ear to the ground and something will come up.

You may consider having someone look at your resume if you're not getting any bites. If you are getting bites, be honest and confident in interviews. Confidence lands jobs.

Good luck!
TheTick (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 13:41
I've been passed over for jobs in favor of candidates with MS degrees.  There are some employers that took advantage of the economic situation to get overqualified people on the cheap.
MintJulep (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 13:46


they gave me permission to use them as referrals on online applications

Well that's next to useless.

Do they know if there are open jobs where they are working?

Do they have your resume?

You need your friends going to the hiring manager saying "I went to school with this guy and I think he's be good for this job."

If you can't get that then at least you want them saying "I went to school with this guy."

unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 13:46
thanks flash3780

i doubt the problem is my resume. i did have few phone interviews. i am not really attached to DC and applied everywhere. but in this recession, there are always entry-level engineers nearby who can interview in person and be hired at no further expenses to the company. now the situation got worse with time and i fell into the chicken-egg dilemma.

the recruiter's surprise reaction prompted me to post this thread to see how others would react and get a feeling of my situation from another perspective. for me, i see the only option left is PhD. i've actually stopped applying for jobs and started preparing for PhD. i had to, in order to build up focus and determination in pursuing PhD without having second thoughts. originally, i just wanted a master degree to get into the process control field. i cannot afford to have second thought because i cannot afford to fail PhD if I go along with it.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 13:55
thanks MintJulep

yes. i should have been more blunt about it, had it not been for my pride. i was hoping they (close friends) would show the initiative. nonetheless, they are really few friends. not that many.  
casseopeia (Structural)
11 Apr 11 14:00
Find your local unemployment office and sign up for one of their job fairs.  There are certain areas that add incentives to hires long-term unemployed and the unemployment office can be a good place to find postings. You may not find the perfect thing, but getting a first job is important.  In my city, they are dying for qualified electricians.  If you are long-term unemployed, you can qualify for job training.  Even if it is not something you want to do as a career, it will show incentive, ingenuity and effort to potential employers.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

MintJulep (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 14:07
Here is my assessment.

No confidence.

No initiative.

Too willing to make up excuses, not willing to act.

Not willing to accept good advice or believe that the fault may be within.

Too lazy to press the shift key every time it is needed.

ischgl99 (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 14:44
Are you working at all, even if it is McDonalds?  If not, then that is another stike against you. Being out of school for three years without an engineers job is a red flag, but being out of school and not working at all gets your resume placed into the circular file.  Employers want someone that shows initiative and staying home waiting for a job to appear is not the initiative employers look for.

Your friends are not the ones that need to show initiative, that is your job as the job seeker!  You need to call them up and ask about their industry, find out who the major players are and any contacts they may have within their company as well as competitors and vendors.  Join trade associations in your target field and attend local events, trade shows etc.  At the trade shows find a slow time during the show and talk to the salesmen about their companies and see if you can get some contact names.  

I can understand your frustration with finding a job, but your job search is your job until you find something and if you are not putting in a full weeks worth of effort every week, you are not going to find something in this market.  I would not blame the local candidates either, companies are very picky and want only the best for their company. They will select you for an interview if they think you have something to offer.  Since you are not making it past the phone interview, look honestly at what you are saying to find out why you are not getting selected.  You might want to point out in your cover letter for the out of state positions that you are planning on moving to that area, whether it is true or not, it might help open some doors.  We do not cover relocation for entry level positions so anything to help alleviate the concern that you might expect relocation will help avoid getting your resume passed over.

unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 14:49
thanks casseopeia

i like the idea of free training, since i cannot afford it
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 14:51

i was not like that until recently after i gave up on job search and started focusing on PhD. you have to put yourself in my shoe to understand the psychological effect of long-term unemployment. i read once a survey that people usually give up and switch career around the 3 year mark; if i remember correctly.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 15:00
thanks ischgl99,

yes. i have been applying extensively during those 3 years. i made it a full time job.
ctopher (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 15:01
Also, if it works out to be 3 years, you're not serious about looking for a job.
With your degree, there are jobs out there, just have to look and talk to people. Applying for jobs online is a start, but will not find you a job unless you are persistent and follow up on them.

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unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 15:08

surprisingly, there aren't. keep in mind that US is going through the toughest recession in years. i am serious about finding job or at least i was. i did not spend 6 years working hard on earning engineering degrees, only to be not serious about working in engineering. i think the problem is once you pass the 1 year mark, you automatically become undesirable. at least that is how some online unemployment articles put it.
ctopher (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 15:10
I know, this is the 3rd or 4th recession I have lived through.
The jobs are just a little harder to find, but they are out there.

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unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 15:12
you have to wounder how many entry-level grads follow your job hunting techniques. probably, you guys speak from experience. but as far as entry-level grads, we have limited job hunting and interviewing skills. so, i don't think the problem is heavily due to poor job hunting, because all grads are equally weak at this.
ctopher (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 15:19
"because all grads are equally weak at this"

Not all.

My son (22) graduates from college in June with his BS (double-major). He is already working (previously an intern) and has other prospects wanting him.
He starts his PhD in Sept.

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controlsdude (Electrical)
11 Apr 11 15:22
I think relocating where you have a shot at getting employement is better than sitting in the DC area.

If your degree is in the process/chemical area, then you would be better suited where their is big demand for same.   So Houston area, Gulf Coast, Canada oil/sand tar process, Shale Fracking, etc.... (not just the oil/gas industry) but you get the idea.

Your right about one thing is that most companies will hire local instead of relocating someone from another area in the country.  Until that demand is dried up which will take some time I think, its better to move to known area where the jobs are as others have pointed out.

My friend was in same situation and was unemployed waiting for his rate to come back.  Your not waiting for some stratisphere rate based on an MS degree?

unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 15:26

good for your son, although it may not be due to better job hunting skills. it could be that an opportunity presented itself at the right place and time for your son. most likely his job hunting skills are withing the range of that for other grads. i wish him good luck in future endeavors.  
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 15:31
thanks controlsdude

yes. recently, i got very serious about relocating. but i was afraid i would not be able to afford it if i don't find any temp job by the time my savings ran out. so i had to weigh between guaranteed PhD with funding vs Alberta with no job prospect and little money.
ctopher (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 15:32
Thanks, and to you too.
I'm not 100% sure about his job hunting skills, but he will do fine.
Although his networking skills are very good. I think networking is how he got to his current position.

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IRstuff (Aerospace)
11 Apr 11 15:57
"we have limited job hunting and interviewing skills"

So, in 3 years, what have you done to improve these skills?  You're an engineer, you have a problem; what have you done to solve these problems using your analysis and problem solving skills?


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unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 16:06
yes IRstuff

i improved my skills. but also i have become more undesirable with passing time.
KENAT (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 16:13
So you can't afford training on how to find a job but can afford a PhD.  I suppose you're counting on a generous research grant or something.

Seems from what you said that your job hunting has been centered on use of the internet.

Have you tried any other ways?  Job fairs were mentioned, have you been to any?

Have you tried directly contacting potential employers, sending out resumes blind in worse case.  Is their some kind of industry directory you can look through to find leads?

Have you knocked on any doors?  Asked people you've met?  Had you mum/wife/girlfriend ask the person that does her nails...

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flash3780 (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 16:16
Wow guys, down. Easy. The guy's probably feeling down enough already. Constructive criticism is great, but tact is probably in order as well.

unemployedengineer, these guys mean well. From your description of your situation, it sounds as though you may benefit from attending some career counseling for help with interviewing techniques, resume writing, and so on. Your college will often offer these services for free. If not, the local career center probably will.

You mentioned your accent. If you feel that it is causing you difficulties, you may look into your local Toastmasters club.

Also, be sure to check the markets in other areas. Charlotte, NC is within a day's driving distance of Washington DC and may offer some great engineering opportunities. Houston and Atlanta are a bit farther out, but would also be likely have great opportunities as well.

And, above all, be confident. Remember, when you walk into an interview, you're selling your skills and your personality. As far as you're concerned, they'd be a fool not to hire you - you're a degreed engineer. You've spent years learning your trade. Keep that attitude, be polite, and be honest and you'll surely find something.

Good luck.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 16:28

my job hunting has been centered around internet. but i have been very resourceful at it and got my self few phone interviews on top of screening phone calls. but nothing beyond that, mainly due to unwillingness to relocate an entry-level grad. one time, i started putting on resume that i would relocate at my own expense.
SiliconeAurora (Materials)
11 Apr 11 16:35
Relocation is probably necessary. I've moved states every time I've moved jobs. Luckily I'm young with no family so it's not hard to pull up the roots. Some companies offer relocation assistance and some are very generous about it. Depending on how things go, you could make out quite well on that with money to cover the move and then some to help get settled.

And I resent the "all young people have bad job hunting skills" comments. It's not FUN (okay, it's basically the worst thing in the world) but neither is it the end of the world. At least with us engineers it's understandable if we're not automatically charming. We're usually not applying for sales positions, after all.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 16:38

thanks for your sympathy :) but, i am not really offended by the replies. nothing really can top a 3-year unemployment. and the replies are written with good intention and i do take them into consideration, although i may sound defensive in my replies.

and thanks for tips and encouraging words. interviewing skills are part of the problem, beside recession. sometimes, an unexpected moment of depression or anxiety can kill the excitement and destroy days of preparation for an interview.

again, i would like to stress that my interviewing skills are probably within the range of that of entry-level grads (if not better as i am older and more mature). so, this is just one factor beside recession and geographical location.
MintJulep (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 16:44
His friends and family can be tactful.  Here on the web we call it like we see it.

It's not his fault, it's the bad economy.

His resume is perfect, and he has great interview skills.

After a year he's simply undesirable.  That's what an article on the web said.

It's not his fault.

What else could it be?

He want's us to tell him that it's just bad timing.  Get a PhD and wait for things to improve.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 16:44

thanks for input. i did think about moving to another location where my field is in demand. however, there is too much risk with the little savings i have. i found that the PhD with guaranteed funding to be less riskier. so, i stayed where i am and chose to prepare for PhD. beside, the PhD school has a the reputation at the level of ivy league schools. so, i thought maybe the PhD will give me an edge and compensate for the missed years. at least in terms of better job quality if not money and advancement.
ewh (Aerospace)
11 Apr 11 17:00
I don't like being critical of someone in your situation, but your attitude could use some adjusting.
Make it known that you will relocate if offered suitable employment, and ease up on your use of "absolutes" such as  "all young people have bad job hunting skills" and "nothing really can top a 3-year unemployment". Both of those statements are false, as there are exceptions. This attitude may be showing through in what interviews you do get.
"Guaranteed funding" of a PhD is a nice thing to have, but you must be willing to take some risks if you want to get ahead (or even get by) in todays economy. If everyone thought that way about risk, we would all stay home in bed where it's safe and "less riskier".
Good luck, however you decide to approach it!

"Good to know you got shoes to wear when you find the floor." - Robert Hunter

sam74 (Civil/Environmental)
11 Apr 11 17:09
I'd reccomend the career center idea.  When I was laid off for the second time and congress was jack-knifed on unemployment extensions I decided I had to get a job doing something in order to lessen my use of savings.

I ended up going to a seminar for a job I had applied for on online which was not related to engineering.  I had to take the career readiness test and started attending a class on my own time three days a week for three hours a day for four weeks.  

It covered many job search skills including public speaking, resume writing, and interviewing skills.  Really a unique experience working in small classes with people of various backgrounds (life and job).  The entire class was geared towards the company's background and mindset (Green Mountain Coffee).  

It really gave me some structure in my life that I was lacking with no work routine.  Attendees that made it through the entire course with perfect attendance were guaranteed an interview.  They were hiring 150 employees in the next six months.

Got a job there worked it for a month until I found another related to my field.  Pretty humbling

The career center here has a lot to offer in the way of free services and classes.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 17:09
thanks ewh for input

i've mentioned earlier that i am open minded about relocation. i even applied to jobs outside north america. i wrote in cover letter that i would relocate at own expense and that i would work 24/7 to make sure i compensate for any deficiency.

the second point is that interviewing skills may play a little factor because all grad are inexperienced job hunters/interviewers and are within same level of knowledge/experience. so, it is more of an opportunity rather than competition, assuming that junior candidates are not competing with grads for the same jobs.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 17:13
thanks sam74

yes. i should have made a use of freely available resources in career centers. and i am signed up with a temp agency to provide me with temp jobs. haven't heard from them yet.
unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 17:22
i just wanted to thank you all for your input. it is like brain storming different ideas from different angles. great stuff.
ewh (Aerospace)
11 Apr 11 17:29


...because all grad are inexperienced job hunters/interviewers
To quote Ronald Reagan, there you go again.
What about a machinist or CNC programmer who has contracted his services for twenty years before he decides to switch paths and get an engineering degree? He will have had quite a bit of experience getting positions, and probably would have had to interview for the majority of them.
I realize that this is being picky, and I know that you are referring to the majority of grads, but in todays market, employers have the luxury to pick and choose.
It seems that one thing not taught at university any more is that there are no absolutes.  

"Good to know you got shoes to wear when you find the floor." - Robert Hunter

unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 17:34

the point still stands, regardless of semantics. call it majority or a bell curve with small variance. majority are around 22 age and around same level of maturity and life experience
KENAT (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 17:36
unemployedengineer, I've interviewed a few new grads or final year students that were applying for internships at my employer.

They were not all equal in terms of interview skills.  Some were better than others and hence came across as more capable.

Having good interview skills may give you the edge over other candidates, especially if less technical folks are doing the interview like some managers & most HR.

So interview skills can make a big difference, especially in a tight market like we currently have in many places.

It is a competition, I'm not sure what let you to believe otherwise, you are competing against all the other applicants for that position.  Anything that sets you apart (in a positive manner) is gonna help.

I'm trying not to be like one of Job's buddies.  My dad was out of work for something like 4 1/2 years in the early 90's recession in the UK and had a hell of a time finding something permanent, and it took me over a year to find an engineering position when I moved to the US, so I have some sympathy.

However, it really seems your attitude, or at least how you come across, could be part of the problem.

Heck, even your handle is a bit negative, wouldn't 'in between positions engineer' or even better 'soon to be employed engineer' be a bit more positive.winky smile

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rbulsara (Electrical)
11 Apr 11 17:51
and..KENAT is being very polite. I wrote a few paragraphs and then decided not to post here!

Looking for entry level jobs from internet is not going to work. Get out in the real world.

Rafiq Bulsara

ctopher (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 17:51
Also work on grammar and spelling. English may be your second language, but to have a degree from a US college, you must have taken a writing/English course(s).
This will improve your odds.

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Latexman (Chemical)
11 Apr 11 18:08
Have you spoken to your medical care giver about all this?  You may have depression.

Good luck,

Helpful Member!  moon161 (Mechanical)
11 Apr 11 18:58
I would not rule out depression. If you go to a health clinic, you will probably fit the guidelines for happy pills, I think that's how they treat all but the rich for depression now.

No one will fix you, I spent some time looking (for someone to fix me).

A previous employer, god bless him for tolerating me, used words like 'Ass' and 'Gusto' to describe what he wanted out of me, and said things like "moon161 will you please allow me to not be angry today!". I think his statement that his property was large and well "I haven't seen moon161 since he left in the afternoon" was the most motivating.

Nothing personal, your mother and your dog love you, I'm sure. Love yourself, just in case no one else does. There are about 5 unemployed people busting their nuts for every reported job vacancy out there, and you don't sound like the one who is getting it. I used to share a house with a grad student, smart guy, got laid of from GE, went back for MS. The thanks but no thanks letters came every day, because, well employers replied more in those days, even to say 'no'. He came across like droopy dog too. Really, the transformation is closer than you think.

Too late, but the census was taking any warm body that could take a simple test last spring. Actually good work and a learning experience.

Please, for your own sake, participate in something useful. It is transformational, and empowering. I worked for an electrician some when I was laid off, barely paid for child care, but really helped the mojo. Habitat for humanity (Jimmy Carter was an EE too), Engineers without borders, City mission, they could all use some help. Tutor math and science, I hear the DC schools need a little help. Unless you've got kids to watch, don't be held back.

I would say spend a couple months, 1-2 days at a local job center, the balance volunteering. Research a move to someplace with more work, plan it get a greyhound ticket june 15th. Spend the summer busting it looking for a job. Return to school in the fall.

GregLocock (Automotive)
11 Apr 11 19:29
Boring bit first. To get my first job, at the age of 17, I hand wrote a researched letter to every relevant company in my country (one hundred ish). From that I got six interviews and 2 offers. I did this while attending school full time and doing 3 to 4 hours homework every evening.

Scary bit second. I see that many Americans on this forum are saying that 'times are tough', and seem to be implying that things may improve. In the rest of the world we are more than a year into recovery after the GFC recession, and I have already seen recommendations to pull back out of the stockmarket on the basis that it is toppy. So, what you are experiencing in terms of the economy may be the new normal, because the USA will sure as eggs be participating in the next global recession.


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unemployedengineer (Electrical) (OP)
11 Apr 11 20:12
Thank you all for your extremely helpful input.  You've given me helpful information to work with.

Thank you again.
csd72 (Structural)
12 Apr 11 6:49

Definately do not get a phd, it will make you even more unemployable in some peoples eyes. I phd will make you too much of an expert on a very focused subject area whereas most consulting engineers are generalists.

Sounds to me like you need to relocate or to start your own business, at least something radically different to what you are doing at the moment.

I have changed countries three times and never taken more than 2 weeks to get a job, though I do have the advantage of being a native english speaker.
edcard (Civil/Environmental)
12 Apr 11 8:20
I agree with csd72, I wouldn't pursue a PhD-unless I intended to do R&D or teach. Your MS degree is, however, a big plus in my opinion.

I think that you need to get out of DC and go where the jobs are, even if you just stay with friends for a few weeks. The reason is that even if relocation is not a concern, a company may feel no need to fly someone in for interviews if there are plenty of local candidates who can fill a position.

Also, you may want to consider casting a slightly wider net in your industry search. For example, I know that in the water and wastewater treatment fields there aren't that many control and instrumentation engineers, and an EE with I&C capabilities is highly thought of.

Finally, based on your posts, it seems like your grammar and written communication skills may need some improvement. I don't think that having a foreign accent is a problem, unless people have a hard time understanding you.
controlsdude (Electrical)
12 Apr 11 8:54
If you have a free ride for a PHD and you do like teaching and/or research then I say go for it.  Have you taught some or tutored students?  Just remember if you take this route, your on it for life I think.  This is another fork in the road and taking it back is really hard to do.  

I remember some foreign born professors with thick accents some were pretty good professors.
csd72 (Structural)
12 Apr 11 9:38
Dc is not so far from philadelphia, and new york that you couldnt drive up to an interview. The rest can be sorted after the job is secured.
DesignerGuy16 (Mechanical)
12 Apr 11 9:47
DC isn't really a huge hub of engineering, you may want to shift your focus to another major metropolitan area.

I live maybe an hour southwest of DC and there isn't much around here.  Sure there are pockets here and there, but there isn't an area that has a huge abundance.  Most of those are likely aerospace/defense.

Do some research for other areas around the US.  There still are a bunch of manufacturing and engineering hubs around.

James Spisich
Design Engineer, CSWP

casseopeia (Structural)
12 Apr 11 10:56

Must be an off day for KENAT.  He's never rarely polite.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

KENAT (Mechanical)
12 Apr 11 12:26
Apparently still not polite enough.

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B16A2 (Structural)
12 Apr 11 12:46
Even if casseopia needs everything to be sugarcoated, I agree with KENAT on this one.  I think the OP has other issues here.
casseopeia (Structural)
12 Apr 11 13:33
The last thing I need is sugar coating.  It rots my fangs and gums up my claws. I enjoy his acerbic responses, even when directed at me.  But I enjoy them even more when they are directed at others.



"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

ProEpro (Mechanical)
12 Apr 11 21:29
Relocation doesn't exist for anyone that is not an expert on a national level anymore and probably hasn't since the turn of the century. It has almost never existed for people fresh out of school that typically are expected to be moving away from where they went to school. Most people have to move themselves to where the jobs are.

DC actually has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the US but as the locals on the board have said there may not be alot of EE. (NHTSA was talking about hiring EE. NRC is also busy)

Doesn't your school have a placement center? There are support groups for the unemployed where you can get together and go over each others resumes, practice interviewing and swap leads. They are VERY useful.

Please take this kindly but why don't you go home? As Greg said most other parts of the world are doing better than the US for engineering jobs. Some of those places you have a better chance of an income that is above the local cost of living. You English skills are weak like mine but they will be valuable in a foreign land.  


ScottI2R (Electrical)
12 Apr 11 22:24


i wrote in cover letter that i would relocate at own expense and that i would work 24/7 to make sure i compensate for any deficiency.

I understand that the psychological burden of being unemployed for such an extended period of time can be overwhelming, however, that quote above is very self-defeating! You mention deficiency in the cover letter and I would guarantee that I would NOT read on. While you are showing promise to be dedicated and hardworking, prospective employers will read that you have a deficiency as stated BY YOU and who would know better in their eyes? ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE and drop the negativity! It is self defeating and not healthy either. HR will hear it when they call you.

    I cannot help but think that you are just sitting at home "whoa is" your days away. Find an area robust with your line of work, move there, restart your job search locally and go out and GET that job! Walk in to that interview knowing you are going to succeed! Granted the economy and job market does suck, so that is why you have to put yourself above the other candidates. You have to have that one thing to offer that the other applicants don't have, or aren't presenting to the hiring employer. Also, don't be too arrogant, because the employer KNOWS it is his market. At the risk of sounding insulting and crude, which is not my intent, you need to grow a pair and use them to get that job!

Let me give you a quick example of what confidence does: In July of 2007, my company sent a couple local real estate people to me to sell my house. (As they were relocating me with the job). One guy came in and was like "eore" the donkey from winnie the poo. The first thing he started talking about was short sales and the market is bad and "well..I guess I could try to sell your house."
REALLY??? The next guy that came in exuded confidence to the point I was wondering how he was NOT a multi-millonaire and retired already!

Now, who do you think I hired??

Oh, and use this website in your background to keep your skills sharp. I do. Or I try anyway, there are a lot of people on here way smarter than I am. Am I being negative about myself? No, I am stating a fact, and I see it as an opportunity to learn more and better myself.

I hope this helps some...

Good luck,


Oh...remind me never to tick off mintjulep

I really am a good egg, I'm just a little scrambled!

IRstuff (Aerospace)
13 Apr 11 1:43
"It has almost never existed for people fresh out of school that typically are expected to be moving away from where they went to school. "

Every company that gave me an offer on graduation included relocation.  Many college grads are burdened with with up to $200k of student loans; they're just not going to be the people that can self-fund a relocation.


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ScottI2R (Electrical)
13 Apr 11 2:38

While I agree with your post, keep in mind that he does not fit the "on graduation" category any longer. And neither was mine. My company was a customer that tried 3 times to hire me previously, and they finally threw in a relo package. That is when I bit. I was told my relo cost my company over 20K, and my OOP costs were around 7K, with 2K being gasoline alone. Never did sell the house back there, I rent it out now. Could not have done it without them though..... Oh FYI, relo was from Detroit suburbs to Phoenix.


I really am a good egg, I'm just a little scrambled!

csd72 (Structural)
13 Apr 11 8:34
unemploayed engineer,

You have some good advice her but the crux of the matter is that you need to do something radically different.

Are you being too narrow in your job options, engineers have many skills and we often underestimate them.

Is your accent hard for the average american to understand? If that is the case it may be worthwhile trying to learn to speak a bit more 'american' I had to do it to a small extent and english is my first and only language.

Is there a professional society there that you can meet other engineers? If necessary volunteer to help out. This will be a good opportunity to keep in touch with the profession as well as to meet more contacts.
beej67 (Civil/Environmental)
13 Apr 11 9:15


If you are a US citizen, look into government jobs.
Rumblings from the deep (GSA) indicate this teet may soon dry up.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East -

casseopeia (Structural)
13 Apr 11 9:49

I just started working in December after 15 months of unemployment.  I applied for several government jobs, City Engineer, City Contract Administrator, Parks Director, and Housing Contract Admin.  I've got a lot of contract admin experience with government work as an outside private consultant and I never even scored an interview.  I think government work is a dead end right now, at least for non insiders.

I'd go for the job training.  Unemployedengineer, you might consider trying to get some training in Revit.  That's what most of the architectural firms here in Northern CA are using.  They aren't looking for autocad.  They need people proficient in Revit.  I know one person who took a course at SF State for about $600.  At least that's cheaper than a PhD.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

vandal06 (Electrical)
13 Apr 11 11:51


Relocation doesn't exist for anyone that is not an expert on a national level anymore and probably hasn't since the turn of the century. It has almost never existed for people fresh out of school that typically are expected to be moving away from where they went to school. Most people have to move themselves to where the jobs are.

My experience has been the opposite for me.  I graduated in 2006 and received relocation assistance for my first job.  Granted, I just changed cities in one state, but when I moved back up to Alaska for my current position they gave me full relocation and this was back in 2008.  I'm sure trying to find relocation now would be tough, but it was alive and well at least a couple of years ago.
EQguys (Structural)
13 Apr 11 12:34
Unemployedengineer: Are you good at teaching ? Do you have enough patience to be a Science or Math tutor ? Try wyzant. Its easy to start with, its fast and its effective. Its been working wonders for my fiance. May be you can give it a shot.  

graybeach (Structural)
13 Apr 11 13:10
Hello Unemployedengineer,

First of all, think about changing your Eng-Tips name to something more positive.  How about "PositiveMan"?

Find an english major to thoroughly check your resume for spelling, grammar, consistent format, readability, etc.  We just got 30 in for one opening in my department.  The poorly written ones (close to half of them!) when straight into the trash.

I keep hearing about the hiring boom for software engineers.  Maybe those companies need and EE here and there.  Or, maybe you could take a few classes to make yourself more marketable to them.  Maybe companies like Google and Amazon need some entry level EEs to help manage their facilities.

Read a book on Feng Shui, and consider making some changes to your home environment that will enhance wealth.  
moon161 (Mechanical)
13 Apr 11 13:24
Many college grads are burdened with with up to $200k of student loans; they're just not going to be the people that can self-fund a relocation.

PFFT. Senior year, I lived on $400 a month + state tuition and everything I needed fit in the back of a SAAB. I had some feelers from Robinson helicopter. If they offered, I woulda borrowed a grand and been in LALAland in a week.

Grats Cass, horrible wasn't it?
SiliconeAurora (Materials)
14 Apr 11 8:27
If nothing else, this topic is teaching me that engineers are generally pretty lousy, or at least hopelessly inconsistent, with the types of advice they give.
debodine (Electrical)
14 Apr 11 8:52
SiliconeAurora:  Engineers are simply real people, with all the accompanying flaws, foibles, prejudices and rationalizations.  We are trained to try to put all those aside and deal with the world of reality in the discipline we have chosen.  Outside of our trained areas, we are somewhat but as a rule not significantly better than the average person is at dealing with reality.

I do concur with your point.  clown
corus (Mechanical)
14 Apr 11 9:20
It would be better for you to find work of any kind rather than have a blank cv for the last 5 years. People will think you're just lazy.

I'd also have several cvs handy as I was once told I was overqualified when applying for a job. I told them I could tipex out a qualification or two and act thick if it helped, but they weren't impressed.  


KENAT (Mechanical)
14 Apr 11 10:36
SiliconeAurora , come on, each engineer is an individual, even the identical twins & Dilbert & Wally clones.

They'll each have their own experience based on different backgrounds, different areas of engineering, different locations, different ages...

It would be great if there was a single silver bullet that we all agreed on was the secret to getting hired but I really don't think it's that simple.

Also, we don't know everything about the OP's situation, so each of us is trying to interpret what he's saying based on our own knowledge and experience etc.

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ctopher (Mechanical)
14 Apr 11 14:24
You must working in the marketing/purchasing side of engineering.
I agree with KENAT.

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lacajun (Electrical)
14 Apr 11 17:52
I know young engineers in similar shoes.  It's the economy.  The ones in my area are working outside of their degrees completely.  They've lied about having an engineering degree to get sales jobs in department stores to repay student loans.

Don't sweat it because life goes on and it will work out for you one way or another.  Keep a positive attitude!  You have a lot going for you already and keep that in mind as you talk with others.
ScottI2R (Electrical)
14 Apr 11 21:17
One thing we are consistant about: We generally do not stereotype.


I really am a good egg, I'm just a little scrambled!

csd72 (Structural)
15 Apr 11 10:05
When I left university there had been a bit of a recession and I knew guys that worked as bricklayers for two years to get by.

As others have said, any job is better than none in this environment.
Helpful Member!  jmw (Industrial)
15 Apr 11 10:49


i have applied everywhere. i've use linkedin/indeed/monster/careerbuilder/university job bank/craigslist and even googling the job title.

Sorry, not good enough.

People just emailing in could mean that you've emailed about 2000 companies the same. It could also mean that they see the same approach from a lot of people who think the internet is a wonder cure for everything. It isn't. It won't get you anywhere as you now know.

You need face to face and that means getting out and actually visiting the places where there might be work. It will show initiative, if nothing else, and how serious you are.
They may have a hundred emails looking for work and one or two people at the desk.
Who would you see?
Take it seriously and turn up dressed for an interview.

If you get to reception and ask about employment, they will ring and speak to someone.
As suggested above, try to avoid HR, or HR alone (you may need to go through some hoops but if HR send someone down with a form, you need for them to tell you who manages the departmens where you might find work. Then you need to get them to speak to whoever that is and refer you to them.
You need them to speak to some one with hiring authority in the department where you might fit.
That means you need to research the companies where you might like to work just enough to help the receptionist help you.
You are looking for a job or you are looking for advise or you need to become a face in someone's mind who might in future have a position for you.
You need to get a face to face with someone, you don't need a brush off from the receptionist saying  "Sorry, no jobs, everyone's busy." Or the brush off from HR who make you complete a form.
That means you need a ploy to get someone to talk to you and it might be that you need advise on what sort of jobs are performed in this or another branch... be inventive and be prepared.

Too easy for potential employers not to look up online sources and it is too easy to dismiss emails. It is even too easy to dismiss letters.
It is less easy to dismiss someone who has made the effort to come in person. Even curiosity may bring someone to meet you even for a few minutes. Those minutes are your golden time, time to make some sort of impression.
It won't work everytime.
You need to set a target of visiting so many companies a day.
List them out, do a little research and don't be too fussy. Anyone who might have a job is fair game.

At most of the companies you visit they will give you an application form to fill out whether there are vacancies or not and they will promise to keep your application "on file" for future reference.
This may well be a lie but if you fill in the form and attach a copy of your CV with it, they may send it up to any relevant managers for an initial perusal.
You need to get the names of suitable contacts because you may wish to revisit this company in a few months or try some follow ups with the contact the next day, if he doesn't come and see you.

At the moment your definition of an ideal job is any job that lets you apply some of your learning and gain some experience. Do not be shy in explaining this to whoever you can get to talk to.

You may get exploited in your first job because you are desperate and they are not but what the heck, once you have some experience you are in a marginally better position than now.
Remember, you have nothing to lose and you can push as hard as you like on the first few and learn from the experience.
Do not be afraid to ask the receptionist for advice.
"How do I actually get to see someone?"

I did this in Georgia many years ago and having unusual elements in my CV helped get me in to a number of spontaneous interviews.
Take a look at your CV and be sure that it can be read quickly and deliver the key points.
After each visit review what happened and what you might do to be better at it.
Set small goals to start. Just getting the receptionist to be helpful is one, and after that your objective is to fill out as many forms a they have for you.
Seeing anyone from HR is a start, and if you do see HR, you need to get as much information from them as you can and then try and get them to put you in front of someone for even a few minutes.
Baby steps. Each step and each experience part of a learning curve, learning what works and what doesn't.
Sooner or later it will pay off.
Allow plenty of time and hard work. You've already spent 3 years not succeeding, how much of that is wasted time through a wrong approach, or an inadequate approach only you will know.
Take note of what Mint Julep said early on.
Bad impressions are hard to get rid of.
Learn from it. Learn how to give a better impression of yourself.



SWmechE (Mechanical)
15 Apr 11 11:28
I haven't commented on this post because I didn't really think there was much I could add that wasn't stated by others.  I came across this article today though and thought it did a very good job of summarizing what most people have said already.

I recommend that the OP read this (and the different views above), critically looks at his current path, and then decide how he's going to get off of it.  This could be the PhD he mentions and going the academic route or it can be figuring out what is wrong with his approach to attaining a job and actively work on changing that (career councillor?).  Just by reading your posts you seem to hit pretty much all of those negatives talked about.

Stating that pretty much everyone has the same interview skills at your level of experience is ridiculous; if going through an engineering degree has taught me anything it's that there are infinitely more socially inept (and otherwise brilliant) engineers than I ever would have predicted.  To counterpoint this there are also many who are socially adept and use that to rise above others in the interview process.  Additionally using the latest depression as an excuse is no longer valid, things are on the upswing and there are now plenty of companies hiring, especially for those willing to move.  Granted my view is skewed from being in Alberta but my understanding is that this is a global trend, even in the economic abyss that is the US ;)

I hope you don't take any posts on here too harshly, I think we all are just trying to provide something constructive, why waste the time otherwise.  However you move forward though best of luck, keep us informed... and change that depressing username ;)
jmw (Industrial)
15 Apr 11 13:50
PS A tip for getting round "rules". I learned this from a colleague and it proved very effective.

If you approach reception and ask about a job and who you should see, the receptionist may say "You need an appointment."
"Who with?" you say.
"I'm sorry, its against company policy to give out names."

Catch 22? Not necessarily.

Have with you an envelope in which you have your CV.
Say "Well, I'd like to leave my CV for whoever it will be."
Take out your pen and be prepared to address the envelope. Rather than address it herself, the receptionist will obligingly give you the name and department to write on the envelope so all she has to do is put it in the right tray.
This may not work with a single envelope so have a stack ready as if to hand over a lot of envelopes to various people. Keep filling them out till you have exhausted her list. Many will be a waste of time but don't reject any she suggests or she might stop. All it will cost you is some envelopes and copies of your CV and covering letter. If time allows you can fill in the persons name on the covering letter before sealing the envelope.
If you arrive looking prepared and don't have to ask for envelopes etc. you are more likely to succeed simply because you expect to succeed.
When she says, "against company policy" etc don't object or get difficult, just say "That's OK, I appreciate that so I've got some envelopes prepared which can go in the internal post for them." Make as if to hand over the envelopes without any address details and you should be home free.

My colleague and I arrived at reception in a big company with a stack of envelopes (not job applications, as it happens, but the principle works the same and the more envelopes, the more likely it is to succeed) and after getting the spiel about "against company policy" we walked away with 20 contacts - one of us addressed the envelopes and the other kept a record of the names, job titles and departments - the three key pieces of information you need to get.  



SiliconeAurora (Materials)
18 Apr 11 13:36


You must working in the marketing/purchasing side of engineering.

Hey! Dems fightin' words! Sweating and stressing on the floor trying to fix real problems, thank you very much!

I was mostly kidding, but the comment about Feng Shui was too much for me.
ctopher (Mechanical)
18 Apr 11 13:53

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jmw (Industrial)
18 Apr 11 16:34


"... unemployed since graduation...."

Quote: in my field are too far for me to be worthwhile of companies to relocate me.
I think you may expect too much from a first job, especially if you really want one.
You need to go where the jobs are. Once you are established and with a decent track record, then you may start  to look for relocation as part of a package. Why would any employer want to relocate you if they could recruit someone locally equally qualified?
You have a struggle enough to find a job without unrealistic expectations.




ysm (Mechanical)
18 Apr 11 22:00
One thing that the PhD will do is buy you some more time. But keep looking for jobs during your PhD. Also, try and reflect back on your interviews and write down what you could have said better. Do you talk too much or too little during the interview. Do some research on the company, their newsletter section might help. Also research the areas of interest and expertise of the person interviewing you. Your accent I don't think is a problem if anything it might help you. There is a general notion that foreigners are good engineers :) . Lastly, don't be too proud to ask for help. Some of the smartest guys here have gotten jobs through referrals, nothing wrong with it.
To fight depression, help others in whatever way you can. Try making online videos of certain topics/tutorials which could benefit undergrad engineering students. This will also keep your basics in shape.

ysm (Mechanical)
19 Apr 11 9:08
While you have time on your hands, it might not be a bad idea to learn or improve your programming skills (C++, LabView, Matlab etc). An engineer with programming skills is always desired. My friend used to say "He who knows C++ will not die of starvation" :)
KENAT (Mechanical)
19 Apr 11 10:30
Maybe not starvation, but possibly from boredom or worse stampeded to death at comicon or a star trek conventionwinky smile.

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ctopher (Mechanical)
19 Apr 11 11:26
I think he's frustrated with our advice, or found a job.
No reply for a week. I wish him luck.

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brandonbw (Civil/Environmental)
24 Apr 11 5:03
I was going to give an interesting other point of view.  Maybe make your name on some exotic car boards.  There are some very interesting people on those places if you start posting and make yourself known in the engineering field.

Notice what I do and what I am trying to give a heads up on.  Though if you are being fake or just doing it to purely get a job, don't bother.

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil and Structural Engineering

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