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Get Hired: Sagent Recruitment

Written by Imran Yusuf | Get Hired | Thursday 4th July 2013 13:09:00 GMT

Greet Brosens set up Sagent Recruitment, a women-owned business, to change engineering recruitment. Her mission is to use 'the power of relationships whilst embracing technological innovation.'

Greet Brosens urges engineers to sharpen their 'soft skills'.

Greet Brosens urges engineers to sharpen their 'soft skills'.

Greet Brosens is Co-Director and Co-Founder of Sagent Recruitment, a specialist engineering recruitment company. Originally from Belgium, Greet has two decades of experience as a recruiter, and holds degrees from the Catholic University Leuven and the University of Oxford.
What's the job market like for engineers right now?
We work mainly in the UK, but I can say for sure that in Britain, in Europe and in the US there is a shortage of engineers. So engineers are very much in demand. Everyone agrees there's a big gap between engineering students and the actual needs of the economy. The demand might not be the same in Asia, however, where the percentage of engineering students is higher. But in the West, the shortage is across the board in engineering: electrical, chemical, mechanical, everything. In fact, the skills gap in the UK applies to STEM subjects as a whole.
The UK government has taken steps to address this shortfall. Is it doing enough?
There is a bit of a challenge in terms of perception of engineering in the UK. It's tough for the government to change deeply ingrained societal views, but bodies - such as Engineering UK - are perhaps better placed to do this. A lot of these bodies are doing great work, which is vital in order to portray engineering as being more interesting to students. 
It does seem to be a worse problem in the UK than elsewhere.
Yes, when I first studied in Belgium, engineering was the most prestigious subject at the university. Unfortunately it's not given its due status here in the UK at the moment. But we're working on that. It will change.
So engineers are very much in demand. That's music to our members' ears. But they still have to apply for jobs. What do companies often say to you that applicants are doing wrong?
Engineers often don't do themselves favours, and have developed a reputation as being somewhat short on 'soft skills'. There is still a perception that the majority of engineers will not be great at communication. However, if you then get a cover letter full of typos, or a CV without a good structure, that's obviously much worse. So be clear and positive in your communication at interview. And before that, a clear cover letter and a well-structured CV with good layout will get you far. These are the basics but they're essential: you only really have a few seconds to attract the attention of someone browsing through hundreds of CVs. They are looking for a reason to reject you, so make sure you present yourself with clarity.
And are internships an essential component of CVs?
It's not essential but it really does mark you out. If you can show anything related to experience in the field, or even a research project which relates to the job you're applying for, something that shows you've already worked in the industry, it conveys that you're genuinely interested in that career. 
Are you optimistic about women in engineering?
Yes, I am. It's something we're very passionate about and work very hard at. It does seem to be a cultural issue. There's lots of work being done in schools to make girls realise engineering is as much for them as for boys. But then at industry level, it's such a male-dominated industry, so that can be tough. Women applicants are, most of the time, assessed by men. It's possible there's an unconscious bias at work in organisations when it comes to hiring women engineers. The good news is that companies are very willing to change this. They all want to hire more women. It will take time, but it's being addressed.
Any final tips for engineering students thinking about their career?
Don't rush in. Your first job will really be important in terms of defining your career. Pick wisely, go for what you're passionate about. So the thing to do is use your student time well: make the most of all the opportunities and projects on offer at university. That will help you define yourself as an engineer and make you stand out when applying for a job. Otherwise you graduate, and then apply for jobs, and it might not be right for you. If your first job is the wrong one, you can get stuck in the wrong career.


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Friday 5th July 2013, 05.20 (UTC)

Fadhillah Norzahari

Hi Greet,

Thank you for your article. As a job seeker, I must say that now is a tough time to re-enter the job market, particularly here in Australia.

I was wondering if you have any recommendations as to how I could improve my CV/resume to make it more appealing to recruiters? I know that recruiters/HR do not necessarily understand the technical terms used by engineers in our CVs/resumes. So if you have any comments or links to share, that would be great!


Friday 5th July 2013, 11.01 (UTC)

Greet Brosens

Dear Fadhillah, in the current job market (internal) recruiters have to go through lots of CVs to make that first longlist of candidates. In many cases, they process 100s of CVs each day. As a result, they will make the first no/maybe decision in a few seconds, and you need to make sure that you get on the right pile! I find it helps if people have a good summary at the top of their CV, highlighting their skills and interests in a concise way. Make sure that you write a summary that fits with the job you are applying for, and there is nothing wrong with having some technical terminology in that summary. Whislt recruiters often don't have a technical background, they should have enough of an understanding to be able to read your CV. So in a nutshell, spend time to write a summary at the top of your CV every time you apply! I hope this is helpful, and that you find a suitable role soon.

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