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How to Secure Your Ideal Job within Transportation

Written by: George Place
Date: 09 August 2019

In our experience, there’s some truth to the maxim, “the best things in life are usually found when you are not looking for them.” Last year, 89% of the transport-related professionals we placed into a new job were not actively searching for a new role. So, we know it’s always worth listening when someone contacts you about an opportunity. It’s natural to be curious about what’s available on the market, and certainly okay to pursue something that sounds like a step up from your current position.

Whether you’re actively looking for a new role or not, it’s worth keeping your resume up-to-date in case something piques your interest. Make sure you include any relevant keywords from the job description so that your resume has the best chance of passing an initial screening by any Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The beginning of your resume should be concise and interesting, with a bold opening statement that pinpoints what you can do for the company you are applying for. Quantifying your success makes a difference – for example: “Target-oriented Transportation Engineer with 20 years’ experience working on DOT projects across the state while delivering on time and under budget”. 

The main part of your resume should include your career and project information in chronological order, with most recent experience listed first. Use bullet points to outline each role undertaken, your responsibilities, the experience gained and the value you added to the role or project. Make sure you include relevant, data-driven results and focus on the active tense – don’t be afraid to use the first person to avoid a passive tone of voice. What sounds better? “A promotion to supervisor was awarded after only six months of service.” or “After only six months, I earned a promotion to supervisor.”

Ensuring your resume is no longer than two pages, end with your relevant qualifications and software experience. Double check the role requirements again and put your most relevant qualifications first and foremost. 

To interview or not to interview?

So, you’ve attracted the interest of a few recruiters and hiring managers within your network and have refreshed your resume. How do you know a role is worth pursuing to interview stage? If you are working with a recruiter, make sure to ask them the right questions about the role, such as:

Why is the position vacant? High turnover in the role could be a red flag. 
Do you think the company culture and management style a good fit for me? If not, there’s no point going forwards. 
What career progression opportunities are available? Before you get invested, find out if there's potential to progress in this role and could there be a long-term future at the company?

To land your ideal job, we highly recommend you keep an open mind to new opportunities within the transportation field. Don’t let yourself be pigeon holed by your current experience. We’re entering a tremendous period of advancement for the transportation sector. As autonomous vehicles become more widely adopted, alongside the decreasing cost of battery storage for renewable energy sources, we are arriving at the era of smart transportation. To secure your dream job you should keep up-to-date with market trends, such as exciting changes with safety and sustainability, connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies, multimodal design, ITS and fully automated transit networks. Ensuring you are exposed to a variety of areas will allow you to stay ahead of the curve and make the most of any opportunity. 

What makes an opportunity worthwhile?

The below factors are some of the most common and important factors to take into consideration when looking into new opportunities.

1. Company – Are they keeping up with market trends? For example, are they putting themselves in a position to be key players in CAV market for example? What are the firm’s ambitions? Will the company plan enable the growth you’re looking for?
2. People – Who are the senior figures/upper management in the firm? Will they be good mentors?
3. Location – If the role involves a long daily commute, could you realistically do this commute day in and day out? Can you work remotely now and then or should you relocate for a new opportunity? 
4. Job security – How have the firm grown in the past few years? What are the firms plans for growth? Have they sustained levels of projects in recent years?
5. Projects & company backlog – How exciting are the history of projects? What upcoming projects does the company have?
6. Culture – What’s the professional environment like? How do they approach work-life balance? Can you work from home sometimes? How does the team interact? What company events do they do? 
7. Reputation – Have you spoken with your network about the company? What are the company best known for? 
8. Position details – Is this role challenging? Will this position take your career to the next level? Will the role allow you to reach your ambitions? 
9. Career progression & training/professional development - Do they encourage receiving certifications/qualifications to help your career. Do the firm have a clear path for progression?

How to give a winning performance at interview 

So, you’ve decided the opportunity is worth the shot. How can you give your best performance at interview? The key to interview success hinges on one thing: preparation. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Plan to articulate how you will meet the employer’s needs and have a detailed look through the job description. Think of clear examples of your project experience and bring demonstrable materials with you, e.g. signalization plans (etc.,) that support your case that you have the technical requirement the role demands.

Research and understand the hiring manager’s background and experience. The transportation field is a tight-knit community, so you’ll likely have several shared connections that you can ask for intel. This is a great way to highlight your communication skills, as well as show your interest in your potential colleagues and the role. Having some talking points about a particularly interesting project will also help you build a good rapport by finding common ground based on your experience, as well as flattering the interviewer.

how-to-land-your-dream-job-transport

Make sure you also research the firm thoroughly and get an understanding of their history, mission, core values and financial performance. Doing this research will also help you prepare your own questions for the interview, which is a really good way to show your interest in the company and, truly find out if this is the dream job for you. Be ready to sell your technical skills, project management, or even business development skills to the hiring managers you’re speaking to. Use the STAR technique to make sure you are answering the interviewer’s questions well and supporting your argument. Here’s how it works:

– Situation: Set the scene and give some context on the project/ need for the project
– Task: Explain what you were required to do
– Activity: Clarify what you achieved throughout the project
– Result: Describe the successful outcomes of the project.

Body language is also very important. Research by social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, reveals that the posture you adopt before an interview can alter how powerful you feel going into the situation – affecting the likely success of the interview. Holding a high-power pose boosts hormonal changes that configure your brain to be more assertive, confident, and optimistic, whereas low power poses (such as folding arms and hunching over) do the opposite. So, take a moment in the reception before your interview and strike a pose. 

What qualifications are in high demand?

Many of our clients are looking for people to have a Professional Engineer (PE) licence. The PE license can help engineering professionals reach a more advanced career level and earn the respect of their peers and potential employers. However, it’s a difficult and time-consuming process, which may not always be at the top of someone’s to do list. Although the road to obtaining a PE license is long and intense, and requires a lifelong commitment to remain certified, for many, we believe it’s a pursuit worth undertaking. A PE offers engineers a slew of valuable opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.

In our experience partnering with top firms, candidates who are certified as a Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE) are highly sought-after. Having PTOE status will give you a significant advantage above other engineers interviewing for the same roles for showing your dedication to traffic engineering, operations and design. At LVI Associates, we have seen an increased demand for PTOE over the last two years, with the certificate becoming a preferred qualification in many job descriptions. Many of our clients also look for well-rounded engineers with a Professional Transportation Planner (PTP) or who are certified by The American Institute of Certified Planners to highlight a background in planning.

Taking the time to invest in your professional career and advancement by pursuing relevant qualifications will give you a clear advantage to landing your ideal job. You will demonstrate a higher level of skill, passion and dedication than the average candidate on the market, as well as open yourself up to new opportunities that may not have been accessible before. Looking for your next opportunity? Click here to view our latest vacancies.