Graduating this year? Give yourself the best chance for success.

So its crunch time for many final year engineering and design students...your dissertations are due in and the revision schedules are in place. A challenging and nervy time for many, however before you know it, university life will be over and your next challenge will be to find a job.

For this reason we wanted share some useful tips and tricks you can use when searching for your first CAD job.If you're like me you went to university to give yourself then best possible chance of being successful in your career (the social side of university is of course another good reason to go!). This message was probably drummed in to you by your school teachers and/or careers advice people. Unfortunately, due to the tough economic conditions it's not been an easy ride for many graduates looking to take their first step on the career ladder. Many graduate placement schemes have had their numbers reduced and many engineering companies have been choosing experience over potential.

OK, so that’s the depressing news...the good news is that this is clearly changing. We're seeing more and more opportunities for graduates within the CAD industry. That said, it’s still a competitive market so we wanted to offer some friendly advice which will hopefully help you find your first CAD job. 

1. Get your CV right: We dedicate a section to this on the Solid People website. Do have a read and make some notes. Your CV is such an important part of the job search process - you’d be surprised how many people just don’t give it the time and attention it deserves. First impressions really do start before you arrive, so make sure your CV shines and you’ll increase the chances of getting that crucial interview invite. 

2. CAD Portfolio: As we’ve pointed out, it’s a competitive market so you need to do all you can to stand out from the crowd. We highly recommend putting a CAD portfolio together showcasing some of your best design work. With a portfolio you’ll be one step ahead of the competition and it acts as a great discussion document when interviewing. Get cracking with it... 

3. Build relationships with recruiters: Rather than just apply for CAD jobs online, give the agency a call and speak to someone in charge of CAD recruitment. Build a relationship with that person and make sure you’re the first person he/she thinks of when that new graduate design opportunity comes in. Although building a relationship with a recruitment consultant is important, be careful not to pester them. Occasional phone calls/emails are fine to keep you at the forefront of their mind.

4. Linkedin: Get yourself on it! LinkedIn is a fantastic networking tool for professionals. For example, do you fancy designing vacuums? Well if you do I bet you’d find key contacts from Dyson on LinkedIn. You can link with them and start building relationships with them. It’s a tool that’s often overlooked by graduates but can be a very powerful one if used to its full potential. 

5. Develop your CAD skills: Yes, you've got yout degree in design (which is great) but why stop there? Check out some industry recognised CAD courses in systems such as SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, Pro/Engineer or SolidEdge. SolidWorks is a good one. Lots of companies use it and they run really good accreditation schemes. One we always look out for is the Certified SolidWorks Professional (CSWP) accreditation. If you get this under your belt it’s a clear indication you know your stuff when it comes to SolidWorks. There are associated costs but it might be worth looking in to. 

6. Make your own company contact list: Why not take the bull by the horns and contact companies direct? This is something many graduates either don’t think about or are too nervous to do. It can be a bit daunting but what have you got to lose? The answer is nothing! Make a list of companies you’d like to work for and give them a call. But do remember it’s important to plan the call – who do you need to speak to and what are you going to say? Ultimately, you’ll be selling yourself so get your key messages sussed and think about what the end goal is i.e. send in your CAD portfolio, or maybe secure an interview, or better still get offered a job! If you achieve the latter from one phone call then maybe you should consider a job in sales...!

Well that's it! Some of the above may seem obvious, however it’s all important stuff and if implemented will increase your chances of securing your first CAD job. 

Good luck with your exams, and don’t forget to send us your CV...or better still, your CV and CAD portfolio! 

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