The Hottest Trends in Engineering Jobs

by Jen Parker on August 13, 2014

trends in engineering jobsIt’s no surprise that engineers of all stripes are in strong demand in the U.S. – we’re experiencing that demand firsthand here at Burns & McDonnell. With industries like energy and oil and gas growing at a rapid pace and baby boomers nearing retirement, the need for talented engineers is greater than ever. The team at recently released its quarterly report that shines light on the hottest trends in engineering jobs, ranking the most popular disciplines and regions of opportunity for engineers. Here’s a look at the findings, as well as some other trends we’re seeing.

Hottest Engineering Disciplines

Electrical engineering ranked as the hottest engineering discipline, followed by systems, mechanical, computer and civil. The latest report showed job openings for 26,976 electrical engineers nationwide at the time of publication, followed by 21,794 openings for systems engineers and 18,435 for mechanical engineers. I’m not surprised by these findings. In fact, they’re right in line with the hiring trends we’re seeing as an engineering firm. Electrical and mechanical engineers make up roughly 30 percent of our workforce, and finding new talent in those fields is particularly challenging. Right now, we have almost 200 openings nationwide for electrical or mechanical engineers — a number we expect to continue growing.

Engineering Jobs Chart

Electrical engineering positions, in particular, tend to be harder to fill than other disciplines. It comes down to basic economics: lack of supply. We’re seeing fewer electrical engineering graduates from U.S.-accredited engineering schools to meet the demand. Part of the challenge? Electrical engineering is an intense, math-based area of engineering, and junior and senior high school students often lose interest early when they don’t see how it applies to different types of jobs. The same can be said of any type of engineering, and that’s one of the many reasons we’re so passionate about STEM education and sharing our excitement about the possibilities that exist within engineering.

Hottest Industries

Although the report didn’t go into specific detail about the hottest industries, you can’t ignore that energy and oil and gas are hot right now — particularly shale oil and gas, which is often considered the future of the oil and gas industry in North America. As seasoned workers retire and new energy exploration projects come online, it creates a gap in the skill and talent pool. As a recruiter, it’s a challenge, but for engineers, it’s an exciting opportunity full of potential.

Additional opportunity lies with updating our aging infrastructure — something that is much-needed and long overdue. Finding qualified civil and structural engineers with transportation experience is important to rebuild bridges, repair roads, and upgrade levees and dams. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for civil engineers will increase 20 percent by 2020, growing faster than average for all occupations.

What other trends have you noticed in engineering? How do those compare with the trends outlined in the report? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And If you’re considering a career in engineering, be sure to check out our Careers pages and follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest job opportunities and company information.

Jen Parker is a certified professional of Human Resources (PHR) with more than 14 years of generalist experience ranging from recruitment to employee relations and training. As a recruitment manager at Burns & McDonnell, she oversees a team of HR generalists responsible for recruiting and hiring engineers of all levels.

Other posts you might like:

Four Reasons to Choose a Career in Engineering

U.S News: Do Good, Be in Demand as an Engineer


Tips for Working with Different Personalities

by Sue Maden on August 11, 2014

Tips for Working with Different PersonalitiesHave you ever worked in an office where all the employees were just like you? They all met deadlines, were productive and super fun to work with. No? Me neither. And while we might think we want our co-workers to be more like us, the truth is, we probably don’t.

Working life, much like every other part of life, is full of different personalities. Although it’s not always easy working with the various personalities, it’s always necessary. Our ability to function within that realm can determine our success in the workplace.

We sometimes confuse leadership styles and communication preferences with personalities. There are a number of assessment tools, like StrengthsFinder 2.0, that can tell us about these areas, and knowing these can be a helpful place to start to learn about ourselves and others. But personalities are different. They are the visible aspects of our character, and we all have a collection of qualities that make up our personalities. Some of these qualities are pleasing and others aren’t so much.

While different personalities may complicate things in the workplace, keep in mind that everyone is working toward the same goal. So what can you do to cope with different personalities in the workplace and avoid conflict?  Consider these tips:

Build relationships. Do you work with someone who’s gruff, rude or condescending? Spend a few minutes getting to know them and try to find common ground. Most people are willing to share something if approached in a non-threatening way. You might ask if they’re a native to the city you both live in. Depending on age, and other factors, you might ask if they have children or pets. Or if they plan to take a vacation this summer. You can almost always find ways to connect with someone on a more personal level. Find out what’s important to them and work toward building a relationship. Sometimes doing so can break down barriers, and you may just find the person treats you differently afterward.

Change scenery. One way to avoid potential conflict is to meet on neutral turf. Consider asking the person to grab a cup of Joe at the coffee shop down the street, step outside to enjoy the sun, or meet in a location that’s new to both of you. Getting all parties outside their comfort zones can help diffuse tension.

Try a different approach. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Sound familiar? If every time you call Amy in accounting she snaps at you, try emailing her instead. It may be Amy needs time to collect her thoughts or prepare before effectively communicating.

Look inward. As tempting as it may be to try to “fix” someone else’s behavior, the reality is that we only have the power to fix ourselves, so you may need to look at your own behavior for clues. Is there something you’re doing that’s encouraging the behavior in another? Or maybe they just have a different way of expressing things? Either way, don’t take it personally. Instead, try to figure out what you can do to have a different outcome next time. When you begin to understand other personalities, you can predict how someone might react to a particular situation and adapt your delivery accordingly.

Choose your battles. Try as you might, sometimes there’s just no way to avoid conflict that results from differing personalities. Decide which issues are important to you that need immediate attention and which ones you can let slide.

While accepting differences in the workplace is important and necessary, accepting inappropriate behavior isn’t. You can take tolerance too far. Have you ever heard someone say, “I know Bob can be condescending, but that’s just the way he is”? If Bob’s behavior goes unchecked, he not only risks alienating fellow colleagues and clients, but he’s being led to believe the behavior is OK. When a behavior is repetitive and harmful to others, it’s time to speak up. First try talking with Bob directly (maybe use one of the previous suggestions). If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, reach out to your manager for guidance.

How we manage the different personalities in the workplace matters. It can affect everything from how we feel about going to work each day to how much work we can accomplish — and the quality of our work. What has your experience been working with different personalities? And what tips do you have for overcoming the differences? I’d love to hear your take on this.

Sue Maden is Education & Training Manager for Burns & McDonnell. She oversees Burns & McDonnell University, providing professional growth and development to move employees’ careers forward. Sue creates resources for instructors to improve the course development process, simplifies access to learning for employees and looks for ways to increase benefits of collaboration and informal learning at Burns & McDonnell.

Other articles you might enjoy:

Fast Company: How Understanding Personalities Can Change Your Career

Forbes: The 9 Corporate Personality Types And How to Inspire Them to Innovate


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