#AskAsh – 001 – Should I stay in my engineering job or search for another?

Posted on

 

 

Question:

Hey Ash,
I have a question about whether I should stay in my current engineering job or pursue other options.

I work for an engineering firm that does contract work for other companies. We have recently lost a big contract. With this lull, I have been told that much of my work over the next several months will basically be document control.

As a new engineer, I am concerned that I will be missing out on valuable experience if I am not working on strong engineering projects.

So my question is, should I stick it out or look for another job?

Thanks,
-Anonymous

Answer:

Hi Anonymous!

Before I get into your specific situation, let me be clear.

I strongly believe that you should always be prepared for another job.

Life is crazy, so you should have other career prospects. You should not always be worried about it or actively pursuing other jobs, but you should be prepared for it.

But to answer should you be actively pursuing a new job, I would  encourage you consider a few of things:

  • How soon do you expect the work to pick back up?
  • Are you able to grow your skills in other ways?
  • Do you love your company and role (when there is not a lull in work)?
  • If this were to happen again in a year, how would you feel?

How soon do you expect the work to pick back up?

Does your office have other job proposals in the works that will fill the void in the next few months? There are times in all of our careers where there are just natural periods of “down time”. So the fact that there may be a lull in engineering work is not super concerning.

However, if there is not an end in sight that is a problem. You do not want to get into a situation where you NEED to find a job – either because your position is eliminated, cut back, or the company goes under!

PLUS  Technical Writing Basics for Engineers

 

Will you be able to grow your skills in other ways?

Could you work on some business development work that improves your business acumen? What about spending some time outside of the office speaking with clients? Could you volunteer to work on a committee or board not-for-profit organization that will grow your leadership skills? Will your company invest in your development through courses and programs?

If your organization allows you the opportunity to grow in other ways, then this period could be a great chance to develop skills that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

One of the best ways that I was able to grow my leadership skills was through volunteering my time in organizing a day-long leadership conference for high school girls. As the project manager, I had to coordinate with teams of volunteers. Each team had its own focus area – public relations, logistics, fundraising, etc.

Through this experience I was able to sharpen my skills. I also recognized that I was ready for the next level of leadership – leading not just individuals, but teams.

So if you are able to utilize this time to grow in other ways it could be a great way to improve as an engineer and leader! If you really will be stuck and not growing, then it may be the right time to move on.

 

Do you love your company and role (when there is not a lull in work)?

Is your boss wonderful? Do your colleagues energize you? Does it feel like a good cultural fit otherwise? When the work is consistent, do you love it?

If you absolutely love your role and company, then a brief lull in technical work may be acceptable (or even welcomed).

However, if you are merely satisfied, or dissatisfied, then this might be just one more reason why you should get serious about finding a role and/or company that is a better fit for you.

 

If this were to happen again in a year, how would you feel?

How are your colleagues feeling about this? Does it happen often? Is it a recurring thing? And if so, does that worry you?

PLUS  Are you underpaid? 4 Resources to determine YOUR worth in the market!

Some people work best when they have a consistent manageable amount of work. Like a marathon if you will.

Some people work best in periods of intense work followed by periods of intense rest. More like a sprint.

Personally, I am super energized for periods of time and then need some downtime. I don’t mind a month or two of working six days a week if it means a month or two of working just a few hours a day when I want to.

I encourage you to consider if this work matches with your natural preferences and lifestyle. If it does not, then it might be time to dedicate yourself to finding a new position.

 

Now what?

So to recap, think about the following:

  • How soon do you expect the work to pick back up?
  • Are you able to grow your skills in other ways?
  • Do you love your company and role (when there is not a lull in work)?
  • If this were to happen again in a year, how would you feel?

After you consider these questions, if you are still not feeling confident about staying with your current company then it is probably the right career move to actively pursue other options. You do not want to make a rash decision, but you also do not want to just wait around either.

While you should always be prepared, now is a great time to update your resume, review your Me at My Best! Stories, practice your elevator speech, and network, network, network!

 

Obsessed with your engineering impact!

Ash

P.S. – As always, this advice is for this person’s specific circumstances based on the information provided to me.  While it is solid general guidance for everyone, please use caution and sound judgement in applying it to your situation.