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Too many jobs?
33

Too many jobs?

Too many jobs?

(OP)
Folks, idealist that I am I have moved from one job to the next in my career trying to find an employer who not only cares about designing and delivering the products at hand but also cares to envision and implement an improvement program that will improve design engineering performance OVER THE LONG RUN. I am a long-run (and short-run) thinker but haven't found like-minded people in engineering management no matter where I've worked. Part of the problem has been that whenever I landed in such a short-sighted environment I allowed my attitude to "go south" and have never been able to adequately "kiss up" to management and put on a happy face to prevent from being canned by layoff or firing. I simply found that "regular guy" managers are far and few between. The best boss I ever had was demoted by a new manager that was not also a "regular guy" (narcissist with capital "N"). Why is it that so many people who get into management are promoted there with personality traits that you and I do not value in friend and family relationships? I have had so many narcissist managers I lost count!

So I resigned at one employer after two years working for the worst boss (and one of the worst people I'd ever met) of my career; an alcoholic narcissist electrical engineer (EE) who had worked only there his long career. I can fill pages about the guy but won't.

So I accepted this new position with a good salary and benefits in January 2017 after fine interviews where the hiring managers told me what I wanted to hear. On my first day I inherited a product someone else worked on but had moved on. I found using the ASME Y14.5 fixed fastener positional tolerance fit formula that the two highest-dollar custom manufactured parts (a circuit card assembly and a die-cast enclosure) in the design were toleranced so that they would not always fit when produced within the the drawing tolerances. I had been doing this same calculation for more than 30 years to make my custom parts dimensionally robust. I told the project lead the holes in the printed circuit board were much too small. He scoffed and said "we've been using that hole size for M3 screws for 20 years and have never had a fit problem!". I tried to explain to him that the company had been lucky to have diligent suppliers that maintained their tooling well in order to hit dimensions "dead nuts" all those years. I showed him the calculations and showed him the formula in the ASME standard but he dismissed me. I was not allowed to change anything. He was an EE. Even my functional manager was an EE! Can you imagine a place where all the MCAD designers and mechanical engineers are managed by an EE? My functional manager wouldn't listen either. When I took the job I believed I would be empowered to make and implement mechanical design decisions but it turned out that was not the case. The EEs controlled everything including the mechanical designs. It was micromanagement run amok. They believed they knew all there was to know about the mechanical design of electronic products.

Then, also on my first day, I was invited to a meeting where I was to meet another mechanical engineer (ME) who was going to provide his estimate to complete (ETC) to finish a design. As the senior ME in the room I asked him for his opinion on how long it was going to take to complete the design and before he could open his mouth the project manager (the same EE as mentioned before) blurted out "five hours!". I was blown away! This EE felt he knew better than the ME as to how long it would take to finish the design! The ME went on to explain he needed 12 hours to complete the job and provided details as to why. The project lead listened to his presentation and the meeting was basically over but the ME was held to a five hour time-to-complete (which he did by taking risky shortcuts no doubt).

That was just my first day. It "took the wind out of my sails" and there was nothing in the coming months that helped me get that wind back. I went along for months finding the company was poorly managed in general and giving no credibility or respect to either of those managers (they did nothing to earn either) and they could tell. Eventually, no matter how well I did something it was heavily criticized. And my spirit continued to sink...I couldn't find a new job in time and I was fired by HR for my "poor attitude" and "poor performance".

Now that was just one mismanaged workplace of many I endured in my career and, frankly, I always enjoyed the freedom of moving along any time I wished after a year or two. But there were a few places that WERE fairly well managed but I stupidly moved along for better pay, benefits, location or whatever. But it gradually became harder and harder to find new work (contract or direct) due to my high mobility. But now I have more than 15 jobs on my resume. And when employers (and recruiters) see:
A. that I haven't worked since April 2017,
B. that I only worked at my last employer for four months, and
C. that I've had so many jobs,
in a week or two they drop me like a hot potato if they called at all. Of course no one explains why they pass me up. In the testy US business climate that would be too risky for most managers and recruiters I suppose. But I know why they do. Even when I provide them with sample work I get passed up (I doubt if anyone looks at it). Although I have vowed to become more tolerant of my next (and hopefully last) employer, it doesn't matter.

What to do now? We are in danger of losing our home since we can't pay the mortgage. I need good advice here. More urgently, I need a job ASAP!


ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

I have a friend who went through maybe 15 jobs in 30 years, always looking for someplace where he could make a lot of money. Many of these jobs were with high-tech start-ups (all in the San Jose/Silicon Valley area) hoping that he'd fall into another HP or Apple, but it never happened. He finally gave up and decided that there must be an easier way to get rich, so he met a very nice lady who had already been part of a very successful startup and who cashed-out before the dot-com bubble burst, got married and has lived happily ever since (we plan on visiting them at their really nice home in Hawaii when my wife and I fly there in September).

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Too many jobs?

The problem with electronic packaging is that you are _always_ working for a sparky, and most of them don't begin to understand mechanical tolerance stackups. They mostly work with resistors and such, which are made on highly automated machinery, and typically have _actual_ parameter distributions that are orders of magnitudes smaller than the _guaranteed_ parameter distributions encoded on the parts. So the word 'stackup' means nothing to them at all, because they _never_ have to worry about it.

They _might_ accept statistical tolerancing.

I used to work for a tiny electronics company that used MS standards for screws and such, but the buyers were told to not worry much about tolerances or packaging or any of the MS standard requirements.
... and the assemblers were told, in person, that if they got a screw with no threads on it, they were to just discard it and get another one.

Perhaps your now former employer had an unrecorded standard policy like, "If the board doesn't fit, get another one that does, or drill the holes out a little", or something like that.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Too many jobs?

7
<sympathetic "ummm hmmmm">
Similar experiences, but my issue has always been frustration with lack of ethics, morals, teamwork, professionalism, and plain human decency with a string of <snip ~100 derogatory adjectives> managers and co-workers. Stupid technical decisions can usually be addressed. The adage is you can't change other people you must change yourself. I struggle with that but am getting better. I've come to accept I will always grind my teeth with stupid, unethical people doing stupid, unethical things. Silly me for being a naive idealist and expecting the best out of people. The free psychological therapy I get from a relative helped me realize that.

Advice to you from my experience:
  • Reformat the resume into a functional format, de-emphasize chronological format.
  • Developed narratives to address the hard questions. Not deception or "spin," but actual reasons why a job didn't work out based on unacceptable practices by other parties. This will sometimes result in doors slamming shut in your face. I believe a higher power is steering you away from those doors because they have bad mojo behind them.
  • Accept that all the HR managers have no interest in YOU, they are only protecting themselves (1st), and then the company management which keeps them employed. Accept that the HR managers "play golf together" and swap stories about employees and make hiring deals with each other. This is how a worker will get blackballed in a region. When that happens, it is time to move to another geographical location.
  • Ditto for recruiters. Candidates with difficult issues get treated like lepers.
  • Accept that one will never get "rich" being an engineer. A comfortable life...perhaps. Fabulously wealthy, no. Quit chasing that pipe dream.
  • I got laid off just prior to the 9-11 event and saw all jobs disappear. I had a dire need for employment to support my family. I started freelancing to put food on the table. I taught myself how to do it effectively and discovered that there is work under every bush. Engineers are trained problem solvers and there are problems that need solving everywhere. Get out there and start looking for short-term freelance work to pay the bills. This activity will also build a network and reputation.
  • You may consider re-direction. Take your analytical problem solving skills and pursue another career.
  • Take some personality tests and get some therapy to figure out what makes you tick and why being who you are presents challenges to your resume.

TygerDawg
Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering
www.bluetechnik.com

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
BTW for the many readers who aren't sure what the term "electronics packaging" means, Google the term and there's a pretty good description now in Wikipedia. Wikipedia will appear be at or near the top of your results.

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

I tried a functional resume, once. I got an interview with HR, wherein an HR monkey interviewed me in detail, in fairly hostile fashion, and produced the worst, most unflattering chronological resume possible for me, which was sent on to whatever internal system they have. ... and I never heard another word from them. At least they didn't publish that monstrosity.

Subsequently, a friend who worked as a Certified Professional Resume Writer tuned up what I had, and it worked much better.

Now I use a chron resume, loosely derived from the pro's version, that for each job leads with a reason for leaving, expressed in a positive, honest, and sometimes humorous way, even for the dreadful jobs. ... especially for the dreadful jobs. The last guy who hired me based on that resume said it was the funniest resume he had ever read. I kept it as brief as possible, but because some of my best stuff occurred decades ago, it runs to seven-ish pages, and includes several captioned photos of products of which I am particularly proud.

It's important that the top half of the first page grabs the reader by the throat, so they will want to know more, and that each succeeding page manages to sustain that interest, or morbid curiosity, or whatever drives them. ... so work, work, work on the resume until it is perfect, and then develop it some more. I have on occasion actually measured the response rate to a given resume by keeping track of where each version was sent and what happened, and made random small changes, watching the response rate and adjusting the adjustments systematically, not unlike the way some control systems use dither.

My resumes mostly end with:
MTH/wk ( for author / typist "Who Knows?"
filename (MikeHalloran|monthandyear|codeforlongorshort.doc)
... just so I can keep track of them; there's a bunch.
It's sometimes helpful to re-examine the really old ones, to find out what I _thought_ I was doing,
and to find ways to remove the subtle inadvertent negativity that I only notice in retrospect.




Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Too many jobs?

Quote (MikeHalloran)

It's sometimes helpful to re-examine the really old ones, to find out what I _thought_ I was doing,
and to find ways to remove the subtle inadvertent negativity that I only notice in retrospect.
I get a laugh when I read copies of old cover-letters I put on my resumes, long ago. Still sitting on my computer and too funny to delete them, now!

If considering a job applicant, I would have a lot of trouble dealing with a "functional" resume rather than a chronological one.

Tunalover,
It is probably time to step out from behind your resume and present yourself as directly as possible to potential employers. You have already made it clear that many aspects of your resume and "form-field" answers are difficult to explain and certainly don't fit in the box that allows 100 characters or less. You will need to use the personal strategy and win people over in person. The people you need to meet may be found at engineering organizations like ASME chapters, alumni associations, chamber of commerce, or the state PE licensing board, to name a few. After 15 jobs, you must have made some friends (you couldn't have ticked them ALL off, could you? wink )

I have helped a number of people recently with job searches, and every one of them has found the next job not with "indeed.com" but with a chance meeting or through their network of friends.

Edit: and, have you the means to consider starting your own business?

RE: Too many jobs?

Oh yeah that good ole "we've been doing it like that for so many years and had no problems", I have sure been there done that one.
And the main reason I have never liked working for any company. Nice to not have to anymore.
Simple logic is so lacking in all industries nowadays. So what age was your manager?

RE: Too many jobs?

Be honest to yourself and to your potential new employer. Are you really looking for a long term job this time? Then up to you to convince them that this time's for real. The way you format your resume just means 10 seconds more of the HR manager's time to figure out the situation.

I must admit I have not read the rest of the story. I don't think your future employer would be interested in why you quit 15 jobs. They just want to know whether you will quit the 16th. If any doubt they will not want to invest in you. Why should they?

But as you said "I always enjoyed the freedom of moving along any time I wished", I don't believe you _are_ looking for a long term job. In that case, why not look for a temporary job? It will be much more fair from both sides, there will be no suspicion from the employer's side and no hard feelings.

Or start your own business, exactly

Quote (TunaLover)


Folks, idealist that I am........

.........I always enjoyed the freedom of moving along any time I wished after a year or two. But there were a few places that WERE fairly well managed but I stupidly moved along for better pay, benefits, location or whatever.

I wouldn't call that idealist, man. I think it's pretty cynical. Be very careful how you come across when you apply for a job. A hundredth of this and you already sound too cynical to call back. Sorry about that. Hope it helps.

RE: Too many jobs?

Based on your OP, it seems like you've rarely found a reason to stay, either everyone is a jerk, or the company is crappy, or there's greener pastures across the street; it smacks of commitment-phobia.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Too many jobs?

Try consulting. Your experience with many companies becomes a marketable strength and you probably have a great set of corporate contacts in the field.

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
Folks this might shed some light. Here's an email I sent to an HR Manager today. I just sent it minutes ago so I don't know if the honesty will pay off! The first boss (narcissist alcoholic) I first mention was removed from his management role on my last day there (I accepted the new position at a different company three days before management found me a new boss). That day I worked 8am-11:30pm to prepare my hand-off documentation package and clean everything up I was working on. Maybe only those MEs on Eng-Tips who have worked in electronic product development might appreciate what I said. The "interference story" I tell is from an earlier post so sorry to repeat that!

"Hi XXXX,
You may learn that I’m pretty intense and that I am a mechanical engineer (ME) to the core LOL!

Yes, it was a challenge. So after 18 mos under an abusive boss, I was relieved to start anew. The bad boss I had was an EE who believed that anything he didn’t already know about mechanical design was not worth knowing (no kidding!).

But when I started at XXXXX I was also reporting to EEs (my functional manager AND project lead were both EEs). I suppose I should have sensed a problem when the manager of mechanical engineering and MCAD drafting was an EE. How can an EE judge people in an entirely different engineering discipline?

The long and short of it is that my managers would not take my advice. Whenever I recommended something that differed from what they already knew it was denied. Each time I said to myself that, maybe because I was the new guy that’s to be expected and I just had to sell my ideas. So with each recommendation, I produced hard data and facts showing it was an improvement. That changed nothing.

For example, on my first day, I inherited an XXXX design including a circuit card assembly (CCA) and die-cast aluminum enclosure. I always check designs for interferences. This one had an interference. The printed wiring board (PWB) mounting holes were too small for the M3 self-tapping screws given the tolerances assigned to the holes in both parts. I used the fixed-fastener positional tolerance formula from ASME Y14.5M-1994 Dimensioning and Tolerancing (I’ve been using the formula since 1985 when the same formula came from ANSI Y14.5M-1982). I showed them the formula from the standard and showed them my calculation. I even wrote it up in MS Word. They would not allow me to change anything saying “we’ve been using that PWB mounting hole size for M3 screws for decades. We’re not going to change it”. The truth is that it was not the design that prevented interferences all those years it was the diligence of their PWB and die-cast suppliers to maintain their tooling so they hit the dimensions “dead on” each time. The fact remained that there were two high-dollar, high-volume custom parts in the design that would not fit by design; it was possible that thousands of parts in high-volume orders made per the two drawings could pass dimensional inspection (meet the drawing requirements) yet when they were assembled in manufacturing would interfere. This was just on my first day. The formulas is exceedingly simple and anyone competent in geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) should use it.

So as time went on, it became obvious that the XXXXXX MEs and MCAD designers simply did as they were told by management (EEs) and long ago stopped pushing back against faulty legacy mechanical design practices accepted as law by the EEs. Or, worse yet, they weren’t aware of which legacy practices were faulty because they only copied what was done on earlier designs and never questioned them. Many didn’t seem to care about these things and, frankly, were barely acting as more than layout designers and draftsmen. I’ve found that most MEs in the electronics business just do as their told, don’t push back and contentedly collect their paychecks year after year. Others push back. That’s what I do when I see something that can be done better or when I see something that’s wrong.

So I admit my attitude “went south” because I had been in the same situation many times before in electronics businesses run solely by EEs where the MEs were not empowered to make decisions and/or their recommendations were not accepted simply because management would not take the necessary time to understand the mechanical details. Of course, most EEs don’t know thermal analysis and fluid mechanics. Of course, most EEs don’t know GD&T. Of course, most EEs don’t know vibration and shock analysis. But most EEs, in my experience, think that electronics packaging is a lot easier and simpler than it is and they don’t believe there’s anything to learn from the MEs. I’ve met very few EEs, management or otherwise, who believed they could learn anything from an ME. That’s why management needs to have MEs! There’s more to electronic product development than just fitting CCAs into boxes! My boss at XXXXX was an EE that, frankly, was not qualified to judge MEs or act as a “second set of eyes” on designs being done under his watch. IMO a good manager and engineer needs to be objective and self-reflective. And he needs to know the discipline he is managing.

Well, I’m off my soapbox now. I hope this helps."

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)

epoisses you cherry-picked my post to paint the picture that I am cynical. Maybe I am! I'll have you know that rarely a day has passed in my career where I didn't invest hours of my own time in becoming more knowledgeable, more skilled and more versatile. Also on my own dollar I've bought industry standards, textbook, handbooks, manuals, website subscriptions,...running into the $thousands. I have a huge personal investment in becoming the best at what I do. Now, have you ever worked somewhere where no one in management was qualified to judge you? Try working at a place like that sometime!

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)

enginesrus
My manager I think was in his 50's. Does age make a difference?

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
IRStuff
"Based on your OP, it seems like you've rarely found a reason to stay, either everyone is a jerk, or the company is crappy, or there's greener pastures across the street; it smacks of commitment-phobia."

Funny, I don't recall calling anyone a jerk or saying that any company was crappy. Wow you really spun that posting!!

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

Tunalover,
You did in fact write in your OP that this person was "the worst boss (and one of the worst people I'd ever met)" and "the company was poorly managed in general". I don't see how IRStuff "spun that posting" with his remarks, or why you are getting so defensive in general.

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
LynnB1
I did not in fact write that I believed anyone was a jerk or that any company was crappy.

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

I was trying desperately to condense your postings contents into something that wouldn't take half a screen to describe. You've only mentioned "good" companies in passing, everything else is "worst" "narcissist with capital "N," etc. If they aren't jerks, why bother mentioning this? If they don't accept your "The formulas is exceedingly simple and anyone competent in geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) should use it," and they aren't jerks, then what are they?

If you don't like the word "jerk," substitute your own negative descriptor word in its place. "but haven't found like-minded people in engineering management no matter where I've worked;" sounds like a crappy company to me, but, again, feel free to substitute an adjective of your own choosing.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Too many jobs?

I would not have sent that e-mail to HR. I would look for something fresh to do. Maybe in another part of the country.

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
SandCounter,
Perhaps you would not have. I figure if an HR person reads the honest-to-God truth and does not believe it then it is probably a company I would not care to work for. The electronics business suffers from a weak representation of the mechanical engineering profession. The profession is pushed aside and dismissed as trivial by people who make the assumption that it's just circuit boards in boxes with a few screws to hold them in. It is much more than that.

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

Quote:

The electronics business suffers from a weak representation of the mechanical engineering profession. The profession is pushed aside and dismissed as trivial by people who make the assumption that it's just circuit boards in boxes with a few screws to hold them in. It is much more than that.

All true, but not likely to change. ... especially not likely to change on an initiative from HR, whose role was nicely explained by tygerdawg.

I used to write memos, and later emails, in length, form and attitude not unlike the one quoted above.
... but tilting at windmills is not appreciated, and doesn't pay well.

I once had a boss who would not even read a memo that was longer then three short paragraphs.
I didn't understand his reasoning then; I do now.
If you must write, write shorter.



Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Too many jobs?

Quote (TunaLover)

epoisses you cherry-picked my post to paint the picture that I am cynical.

No I'm not painting any picture, it's just an image I got from reading diagonally what you wrote, and I wanted to send it back to you to see what happened. I did not cherry pick, I just did not read most of your post as I said. It's very long.

I think you should start your own business. That's my last and final advice :)

PS Don't be that guy who sends an endless email to HR. It falls back on you. You may have been right before you sent the endless email. After the endless email you're wrong. It works the wrong way. It's poisonous. If you had just talked with them you might have achieved something.

RE: Too many jobs?

When I interview candidates, I always look at their employment timeline. A functional resume just creates more work for me.

Multiple, short positions is a red flag for me. I don't want to train a new employee only to have them move on.


-JFPE

RE: Too many jobs?

What networking have you done since last year? Are you exploring temporary contract style work to tide you over (if possible)? Is relocation possible - and I would earnestly look to see if your prospects are better elsewhere, as SandCounter mentioned. Can you reach out to the new boss that replaced the worst boss for any opportunities? Have you looked back at those places that in hindsight were good places to see if you have any bridges standing there?

I know how it feels when money is tight, and I hope you and your family won't be in such a position for much longer.

RE: Too many jobs?

Businesses make money. They pay people to come to work and help them make money. If you walk in the door only caring about perfection, and your suggestions will cost money instead of make money, what do you expect to happen?

"We've been doing just fine for 20+ years, but it must be our lucky day because someone finally came in to save us and on day 1 showed us how to spend time and money redesigning a product that we have had no issues with."

RE: Too many jobs?

10
As engineers it is easy to lose the forest amongst the trees. The 3rd decimal place is important to us, but to a company it's only the second that makes cents. I work for a largish company (1k to 5k employee range) as the only mechanical engineer, my supervisor is in a different technical field, but one that is the heartbeat of our business. There is a reason for this structure. Yes, it can be annoying when the mechanical side is marginalized and colleagues don't see the importance of some of the finer points of the field, but the in big picture, mechanical is in a service role to the primary technical field. It cannot drive it, only support it and I feel I have contributed the most value when providing clever ways to get around otherwise restrictive mechanical requirements in ways that contract engineering and equipment vendors have no intere$t in doing.

I see it is perhaps similar in your field which you have described as "electronics packaging." Notice that even in the title, the driving aspect is the electronics. The packaging is in support of the electronics. This can be a humbling realization, I know, but your focus should be on helping your team get around hurdles, not creating new ones.

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

RE: Too many jobs?

Quote (SandCounter)


The 3rd decimal place is important to us, but to a company it's only the second that makes cents.

Was this an inadvertent pun? If so, it's a good one considering the context winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Too many jobs?

It was not inadvertent. wink

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

RE: Too many jobs?

Then you get a for that.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Too many jobs?

“Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” ― George Carlin

As an eng-tips MVP, you are no doubt a knowledgeable engineer. But after more than 30 years in the field, I'm guessing you have not complete your transformation from idealist to cynic. Take heed of TygerDawg's words. Good luck!

RE: Too many jobs?

Yikes, that email.

I'm not going to lie, even though I can sympathize with your situation, I would not hire you based on the attitude that you portray from your OP and that email to HR.

If you come across like that during interviews and daily work I can see the problem. Perhaps you are just frustrated and venting on here though.

I sense that you:
1) are a perfectionist
2) have a chip on your shoulder regarding working for those you deem 'inferior'

Neither are particularly useful in a work place.

RE: Too many jobs?

Quote (Tunalover)

IMO a good manager and engineer needs to be objective and self-reflective

After reading through, my advice would be to take a moment and examine the irony of your statement here.

It sounds like your job history is very frustrating but and full of difficult situations. If I were an HR or hiring manager, I'd want to know what you learned from that and how you've become a better person or employee. (At least in your email and OP) it doesn't seem like you've taken any time to self-reflect and figure out how to change tactics or improve. I hate to judge someone over just a few written words online but I think you need to take a hard look at some of the advice on here and see how you could change for the better.

I truly wish you the best of luck and I hope the job prospects turn around!

Aidan McAllister
Metallurgical Engineer

RE: Too many jobs?

5
TunaLover, after 4 decades I can relate to many of your frustrations. Please take this advice in the manner in which it is offered: Those who think that being a good engineer is all it should take to succeed in an engineering career SHOULD be right. But they are wrong. I have known several in my years.

If you could elevate the study of human nature and interpersonal relationships to the same level as the study of engineering technology in your value structure, you will find much more career success. You may rebel against that statement. You may deny it. But the sooner you accept it as an unassailable truth the sooner you can put a painful history behind you.

The people evaluating your work and deciding your future are RARELY IF EVER "qualified" to do that. But that does not change the fact that they ARE doing it. Your job is really TWO jobs: One, be a good engineer, and Two, do whatever is necessary to convince those around you, ON THEIR OWN TERMS, that you are a good engineer AND EASY TO WORK WITH.

RE: Too many jobs?

Would agree with others that self-reflection and perhaps a change (in location and/or career focus) are in order. Will be important to find the right situation and adjust your expectations to make it work.

May want to turn focus away from 'permanent' positions. With 15 jobs over I'm assuming 30-40 years, you have a long history of not sticking around. Regardless of what the reasons are, that's a huge red flag for those hiring for permanent positions. Companies probably won't be interested in spending a lot of time and money to find out if the 16th time is the charm.

May want to consider looking into contract work instead. They may not care as much about the 2-3 year stints if their contracts are of similar lengths. May be a better situation for you too. Perhaps you wouldn't feel the burning need to do things 'right' or improve their failing processes because there's likely no future with the company anyways, you're just a hired gun performing specific tasks for a prescribed amount a money. If you can stay motivated and actually do work through that situation, you may find it liberating.

May also make sense to just work for yourself. Not sure how freelance works in packaging world but may be worth pursuing. You have no coworkers or bosses to deal with and can be as nitpicky in processes as you want. On the negative side you have to actually run the business yourself.

RE: Too many jobs?

Perfection is the enemy of good enough.

Perhaps running your own business might change your perspective on how things need to work, and why "science project" and "put your pencil down" are part of every program manager's lexicon,

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Too many jobs?

I once had a conversation with the plant manager and my boss the mechanical engineering manager at a tractor factory. I was The plant manager said that he wanted to give me a more concrete project. I said he should give the concrete projects to Jim because he was a civil engineer. My boss started laughing. The plant manger looked at me with a dumb expression. My boss explained that civil engineers built bridges out of concrete and mechanical engineers design machines. The plant manager had no idea there were different kinds of engineers the same way I had no idea there was a difference between sales and marketing or accounting and finance.

As someone else said if you are working on electronics packaging the EE or software is more important than the mechanical. One place I worked like that had a saying "Everyone thinks they are a mechanical engineer". You have learned by now that it is the same everywhere. Maybe you would prefer an industry without electronics? I have moved into one and while the scope of the projects are smaller it is more fun.

I suggest focusing on contracting even cad work. You may have to move again to a place that needs more contractors. Otherwise move into an adjacent field maybe applications engineering, manufacturing, project management or something that interests you besides engineering. More than a year out of work tells you something needs to change (which I think is why you posted this). When you were being honest you admitted that you sometimes moved for reasons other than bad bosses that you now regret. The first impression from your resume that you are a short timer is correct. You need to find a job where that doesn't matter.

Is there a field where your personality is a better fit? Would your perfectionism become an asset in a regulated industry like medical or nuclear?

BTW it is O.K. to vent here and admit your are desperate. When talking to someone about the job you can explain you are available to start right way but beyond that if they see you as desperate they will either take advantage of you or avoid you.

Have you gotten a job at somewhere like Home Depot or a local factory to the keep the cash flowing while looking for another job?

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
ProEpro-
Being out of work this long does not mean I'm ill-suited for design engineering (FYI I am getting calls and emails from recruiters daily).

What it says is that I have consistently been "the nail that sticks out and gets pounded flat". It means that, because I have not deviated from my principles, I have never hesitated to be "the nail that sticks out" again when poor mechanical engineering design decisions are being made. So many guys go through their careers like obedient sheep, do as their told, right or wrong, and collect paycheck after paycheck for years on end. Whatever the boss says is gospel and the boss is never wrong. The truth is the boss (especially an EE managing MEs) is often wrong. But a good engineering manager needs to be self-reflective and understand that he doesn't know everything, that he can't do an ME's job (that is if he's an EE managing MEs), that he must rely on his guys to help him and he must be a "regular guy" as much as possible with his people (be approachable, be humble, be a good communicator, recognize good work and sacrifice,...).

Here's an example where I was the "nail that stuck out but got pounded flat". A company I worked for was all EEs and SEs except me. I was the first ME there. My boss was an EE and all the company managers were EEs. Their products contained high-density Compact Personal Computer Interface (cPCI) circuit boards doing RF and high speed data manipulation. The boards were in card cages within products that were used indoors and were adequately cooled because each product would have maybe three or at most four CCAs dissipating heat and the air was at room temperature and there were fans blowing air directly over each CCA. Management wanted (and smartly so) to design each CCA to serve a specific, yet fairly common task among their product line so the CCAs can be used in multiple products. But the EEs violated the cPCI design standard (i.e. with regard to trace separations and widths) so they could pack as much as possible on each board. Sure that's OK if they were willing to take that risk. But for grounding and conducting heat out, the cPCI spec called for a minimum width Cu strip along each board edge. But they chopped away at that width so they could pack more components on the boards. I don't recall exactly but they may have cut that width down to 1/3 the width required by the cPCI spec. No thought went into thermal design since all the early prototype boards had worked without overheating (indoors with air blown over them).

Then we started designing a ruggedized product to go in a backpack and be carried around in the field in desert climates. The design needed to have, if I recall correctly, 12 CCAs (many more than their other products) and the operational temperature was much higher. But management wanted to use the same CCAs used in the indoor products. The only way to get heat out of the boards was by conduction into the card cage through those two skinny little Cu strips. It was not possible in this design to blow air over each board. I did calculations and told them the strips were much too narrow and we would have to spin an entirely new set of boards to at least give back the cPCI standard side strips for heat conduction and grounding. Although I proved by analysis the product would overheat, they refused to spin new boards for good thermal performance. I persisted in telling management that the product would overheat outdoors and indoors . No one listened or looked at my calculations. And I got increasingly agitated that no one would pay attention to the facts. Well the company reorganized and the mechanical design people (me and one designer) were taken out of Engineering and put under Manufacturing. The belief there was that MEs and mechanical designers did not belong in Engineering. I guess they didn't see those roles as being engineering roles? I don't know. They hired a new Manager of Mechanical Engineering (the role I was told could be mine when they hired me) and I welcomed him and got him up to speed. Two weeks later I was fired. Two months later I learned the new "outdoor military product" was repeatedly overheating and shutting down in the middle of functional training sessions of the customer in an air conditioned room. I heard the product was round filed. You can lead a horse to water but...

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

3
well Im sorry to be the guy who says the emporor has no clothes but I see poor attitude and chips on both shoulders here. The OP admits to being out of work for 16 months and is in danger of losing his house but seems to be unable to recognize the main problem. His disdain for electrical engineers is not exactly understated . I can only imagine how he comes across to any and all EEs he works with..... including those he might report to. As per this other thread on engtips. getting work is becoming increasingly difficult for those of us with more than 10 years since graduation

https://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=443498


Despite a career that seems to be in excess of 30 years, I suspect he has zero knowledge of project management. I find it extremely frustrating to work with colleagues who have never been underground once in their life. but if they are my boss, I have no choice but to educate them , tolerate their areas of weakness. and learn to acknowledge their strengths that they bring to the table from other industries.

I doubt the OP will appreciate my comments but he did ask for advice and help..

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
miningman,
I don't discriminate against EEs. I only have disdain for those in decision-making positions who don't listen to the very people they hire to provide them with expert advice. In my case many were EEs. I have many good friends and respected colleagues who are EEs.

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

Miningman,
I find it Ironic that you linked my Job search foibles to this thread. Until the hammer dropped about my wife's dental bill, I was fat dumb and happy in my retirement just grabbing the odd Cad drafting job or aircraft repair at my leisure,more for my pleasure more than the cash, which of course is always nice, plus spending the odd hour on here helping other people where I could. Also remember I have only been looking for a week and most of my posts are dealing with the stupid antics of the recruiters. And it was /is Pub talk!

Tunalover has now been looking for a year, that is a little more serious

The biggest problem I have now is that recruiters are looking for full time help. Temp or contract work right now seems harder to come by but as I refine my job filters and link up with live recruiters instead of machines things are starting to shake out.
B.E.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Too many jobs?

Tunalover

I never said anything about you being "ill-suited for design engineering". I said if you can't get the job you want and don't want to move you to need to expand your options.

Find an industry that needs people for short jobs and turn your weakness into a strength. Design houses, consultants, oil & gas and contract manufacturers come to mind.

You like telling other people they are wrong. Maybe you could be a consultant or expert witness.

Networking works. When I was unemployeed for close to a year after 9-11 it was an old coworker that found me my new job. With 15 jobs you should have some contacts or previous employers you can go back to. That will eliminate the issues with the number of jobs because they already know you and the work you do.

best of luck

RE: Too many jobs?

I work in a similar industry, including multiple projects that have involved complicated thermal mitigations and have always had EE bosses. Working with other disciplines has always contributed positively to my long term growth as an engineer. Like any relationships, they work best when based on mutual respect, it sounds like that was missing on at least one side.

There have also been projects that blew up when thermal analysis was needed and not performed. The decision was made at risk due to schedule or due to missing requirements (like ambient operating temp of 85C, that was a big one). In those cases what matters most is how you address the problem and work to fix it. I told you so's never help.

I agree with some of the other posters that an effort to understand the other competing project concerns would go a long way. The old saying "Quality, Cost, Schedule. Pick two" comes to mind, you seem to only be concerned about one of them.

RE: Too many jobs?

I can relate to the frustration voiced by the OP in his endeavors to improve the products that are being designed and built by the companies he has worked for. To this day I have observed fundamental design flaws that could have easily been avoided derail a product or project, resulting in late shipments to angry customers. Unlike the OP, I tend to not look back in anger at the situations themselves. I treat these situations as opportunities to educate the people around me. And I will usually explain to them in a very non-confrontational manner that if they would include me during the initial design stages of these products that many of these crippling problems we are struggling with at the last minute would not happen at all. This becomes their motivation for seeking me out. And after several years of doing this, they now come to me asking for advice on how to proceed, and many of these problems no longer occur.

But some of the people problems encountered by the OP also frustrate me to this day. The attitude that I eventually developed and have openly shared with people in meetings is this - all I ask is that you listen to what I have to say, consider it, and then do what you think is right. I have never had a single person fault me for this. And they will often seek me out for advice because of it.

But I am not without my own personal opinions regarding certain individuals or groups of employees. I personally hope there is a special place in hell for many of the unethical sales scumbags I have been forced to work with over the years, as well as many of the MBAs in particular.

Maui

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
ProEpro-

Quote (ProEpro)

You like telling other people they are wrong. Maybe you could be a consultant or expert witness.
FYI I don't not like telling other people they are wrong. I use my experience, education, and knowledge to make recommendations and improvements based on rock-solid substantiation. And no one who has reviewed my "rock-solid" substantiation in detail has taken issue with it. The old adage has held true over and over again: "You can lead a horse to water but..."

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?



Quote:

C. that I've had so many jobs,...

I've kind of been in the same boat myself: I'm averaging about 3 years per employer. One thing that doesn't hurt is: it's been with some of the same employers. There is one company I've been with on 3 separate occasions. And there is another I've been with twice (for a total of 9 years). If your experience is similar.....it might help to emphasize that. A lot of recruiters have forgotten about all the job changes once they've seen that. (It lets them know you do good work and get asked back.)

If not, perhaps a resume that emphasizes skills would be better. I use to have one version that mentioned all that up front and saved the employment history for last.

If all else fails, and you've got bills to pay....you may have to become a road warrior: I.e. a shopper. It sounds like you are married so you have someone to hold down the fort at home.

RE: Too many jobs?

(OP)
MrHershey-

Quote (MrHershey)

May want to turn focus away from 'permanent' positions. With 15 jobs over I'm assuming 30-40 years, you have a long history of not sticking around. Regardless of what the reasons are, that's a huge red flag for those hiring for permanent positions. Companies probably won't be interested in spending a lot of time and money to find out if the 16th time is the charm.
Maybe I failed to mention that just under half my jobs were contract roles. Part of my problem is that I fell into the "contracting" trap where there are no benefits and, even if you put the word contract in bold print ahead of the job summary, it doesn't hit home with the readers that many of the jobs were short-term by design and the reader walks away with the impression the candidate is a habitual job hopper. Also, although contract rates have unfortunately dipped below those of ten years ago, I can't seem to get a contract role either! About 40% of my jobs were contract. My last direct role paid more per hour than the rates I'm hearing now from job shop recruiters. And that was a direct role was with full benefits. Contracting (a misnomer because there is no contract) has long since evolved to where the pay no longer compensates for the lack of benefits.

ElectroMechanical Product Development
(Electronics Packaging)
UMD 1984
UCF 1993
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

RE: Too many jobs?

Perfection is all well and good but it doesn't pay the bills.
We go to work to make money, we don't go to work to put the world to rights, If as Engineers our advice isn't taken, well at least we have given it and the finger cant be pointed at us when it goes wrong.

RE: Too many jobs?

You're very likely a victim of age discrimination. Try updating your resume to only include the last 10 to 15 years worth of positions, remove the date of college graduation if present, if you're using a dated email server (yahoo or hotmail or such) start a gmail account. If you have a lot of grey hair, I'd color it.

Are you only applying to only electronics packaging positions? If so consider expanding what you're willing to do (this would also get you away from the EE managers you don't seem to like). If all your experience is in electronic packaging, consulting as others have mentioned for a high hourly wage as a 1099 contract might work.

What geographic area have your past positions been in? If fairly close, have you "used up" the available employers for your speciality in your area? Can you relocate? Can you do an apartment during the and come home on the weekends type of thing?

Conventional wisdom is when speaking with potential new employers, don't bad mouth old employers no matter how bad they might have been. Stay upbeat when speaking with the recruiters who are calling you.

If it needs saying, work on keeping your attitude "up north", work on your "kissing up" skills, Happy Face, and keeping your head down so you're not pounded down. Don't be confrontational. I've learned the hard way that getting angry with your manager, regardless of the reason, never goes your way. Give your employer your best advice, and make sure to document it, but remember you get paid if they take it or not so don't take it personally if they don't, just know you did your best to let them know of the problems and leave it at that.

Good luck.

RE: Too many jobs?

Quote (Jboggs)

TunaLover, after 4 decades I can relate to many of your frustrations. Please take this advice in the manner in which it is offered: Those who think that being a good engineer is all it should take to succeed in an engineering career SHOULD be right. But they are wrong. I have known several in my years.

If you could elevate the study of human nature and interpersonal relationships to the same level as the study of engineering technology in your value structure, you will find much more career success. You may rebel against that statement. You may deny it. But the sooner you accept it as an unassailable truth the sooner you can put a painful history behind you.

The people evaluating your work and deciding your future are RARELY IF EVER "qualified" to do that. But that does not change the fact that they ARE doing it. Your job is really TWO jobs: One, be a good engineer, and Two, do whatever is necessary to convince those around you, ON THEIR OWN TERMS, that you are a good engineer AND EASY TO WORK WITH.

I think this is very good advice. I've been grumpy since Monday morning. Haven't been feeling well, stressed out because work keeps piling up from our number one customer, etc. I've sent out too many grumpy emails this week (I work remotely) and due to this advice (and my own self reflection) I am writing an apology note to the receivers of the grumpy emails.

I have to send these apology emails from time to time. It's way easier to be mean to people remotely than in person. Trust me.

Anyway, I think it is more than just engineering advice. I think 'don't be a jerk' is an excellent motto. It doesn't help anyone or any team when you are a jerk. It makes me feel really bad to be a jerk too.

Hope you get a new job.

Cheers,

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