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The daunting job application: how to interpret

  1. Sep 27, 2015 #1
    Hi all,

    I am in my last year getting my Masters in Mechanical Engineering, with a B.S. in applied physics with minors in biomedical engineering and applied mathematics. I have started to look at job applications, and frankly, they horrify me. Being that I have wide background I often look at job postings and find that I meet the most of the requirements but do not always have preferred requirements. I guess what I am asking, is there really any candidate out there that is perfectly educated right out of school? What do I make of these requirements, should I worry about having these requirements.

    Also, even when I search entry level positions a lot of applications prefer 1-2 years working experience. I have never had an internship in industry, but have vast research experience as well as 3 publications. Does this count?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2015 #2
    It may or may not count. You simply need to apply and keep applying. Don't neglect networking and career services. After two years and roughly 700 applications the job I finally got was one I did not apply for...
  4. Sep 27, 2015 #3


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    Probably not.
    They can prefer a lot of things.

    Those lists always describe the ideal candidate. That ideal candidate has a PhD exactly on the right topic, worked in 3 different countries, worked with all the software the company uses, has 5 years of working experience in the field and is 20 years old. That ideal candidate is also completely imaginary.

    It is fine if you don't match all bullet points. Most points should apply, and things like the degree they want are usually mandatory.
    Things like "experience with program X preferred" - yeah, well, it saves some time if you know that program, but you can learn how to use it if you do not.
  5. Sep 28, 2015 #4


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    There's one thing for certain: if you don't apply for the job, you won't get it. :wink:
  6. Sep 28, 2015 #5


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    Your best best is often to try to get in touch with people who are doing the actual hiring or whom that position would eventually be reporting to and find out as many details as you can about the job. This helps you to (a) learn enough about the position to see if it would really be a good fit, and (b) gives you background information that will help you to shine during the interview process.
  7. Sep 29, 2015 #6
    There is a myth that job recruiting is impartial and devoid of bias. It's just a myth. In fact, it has never been anything but a myth. We paper over many things with personnel clerks (we now call them Human Resource Specialists). Their job is to paper over a steaming pile of legal nonsense with the thinnest veneer of legitimacy that they can achieve. Basically, if you take up the gauntlet, get an interview, look at ease and confident in front of the interviewers, they'll probably hire you.

    Nope. At least in our business, we see a fresh graduate as nothing but a blank page. Engineering is an interesting field in that yes, it is quite technical, but it is also a very human endeavor. You have to know who your clients are. You have to know who you are designing for. That's not something they can teach in school. The only way you may have gotten some of that is if you had done some internships. Talk that experience up for all it is worth.

    Entry level jobs are just that. HR likes to put a few requirements in to make it look as if we're being selective, but we're not.

    It all counts. Just make sure you hit all the HR keywords. It's like a game of buzzword bingo. You need to find a way to creatively echo all the right key-words and buzz that they used in the job advertisement.

    That said, DO NOT LIE! Lies you tell to HR will be discovered. I know someone who lied about her background to HR, got hired, and then it came back to haunt her more than ten years later. She was dismissed from the company (there is much more to that story, but I'm not going to relate it publicly). You can be creative about what you describe in your internships and research experience to show similarities to the work they ask of you. But you should strive for honesty.

    And finally, I strongly recommend you join an Engineering society of some sort. There are Young Professional groups in most of them. This is where you go to find work, get advice, meet and greet, and the like. You have a lot going for you. Good Luck!
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