Update your image in a down economy

It's pretty obvious that the current economy in which we operate could stand to be a whole lot better. The latest metrics from our hired hands in Washington say the national unemployment rate is about 9%. And that excludes those who have simply given up and are no longer looking for work. The prognosis for improvement also is rather bleak.

It’s ironic that the engineers - the people most capable of making things faster, better, and cheaper - aren’t immune to the downturn and unemployment woes that our lower-tier compatriots also must face each morning.

The recession has taken a big bite out of the funds everyone has been hoarding in 401(k) and IRA accounts. We’re all spending money, but where in the world does it go after we take it out of our wallets? A black hole somewhere? Why isn’t it being recirculated?

Websites selling the idea that their job boards are the vital key to upward mobility on the corporate ladder don’t appear to be delivering on the implied promise. Check out http://www.careerbuilder.com/, http://www.monster.com/, http://www.indeed.com/, and http://www.engineer.net/. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone out there who experienced a phenomenally successful job search using one of these resources.

Overall, there doesn’t seem to be anything happening that could lift the spirits of our beleaguered engineering brethren out in the real world. Part of the problem might be a question of socialization.

Engineers, in general, are unwilling victims of a certain stereotype image. Various public opinion polls indicate repeatedly that the folks around us have a great respect for our technical abilities. At the same time, those “civilians” out there view engineers as techno-geeks, not the “barrel of laughs” one approaches when having a good time is on the agenda. Is it true that engineers have no sense of humor? Or is it that they have a sense of humor, but it’s, shall we say, nonstandard?

The next websites seek to address the matter that’s on the table here. The first comes to you from Enercheck Services, a firm in North Carolina that performs ultrasonic inspections on steam traps, electrical systems, and compressed air/gas systems.

Another online resource that attempts to do the same thing seems to have a certain amount of nearly identical content, so I guess that, like all things posted on the Web, it’s all true. You be the judge.