Back in the 12th century "engineer" referred to someone who "schemed", and it had a rather negative connotation, such as someone who would "engineer to overthrow the King". By the 14th century however it had garnered some respect as "someone who designed war machines, such as ballistae, catapults, and siege engines (e.g. battering rams with a cover to protect soldiers from arrows, rocks, boiling water/oil, or even molten lead).
It wasn't until the 15th century when it took on something closer to the modern meaning of "inventor, designer, or creator". Then it generally referred to civic works (aqueducts, sanitation, and public buildings), so we continue to distinguish between a civil engineer, and an engineer of every other stripe, to this very day.
Once upon a time there was a fellow named Keith. Ever since he'd been old enough to work he had found a job to do. He had paper routes; he shopped for some of the old ladies in his neighborhood; he cut grass and shoveled snow on sidewalks or driveways.
He was always doing something (even if he wasn't being paid). He taught himself to draw; learned to build his own computers; apprenticed as a carpenter, plumber, electrician, and auto mechanic. He once deliberately spent a whole year with a new job every week. Eventually, just before his 30th birthday, he figured out that he wanted to be a Life Coach—dedicated himself to it—and he lived happily ever after.
This is what you call a 50/50 proposition. About half of businesses require that you wear what amounts to a uniform. It could be something as formal as a full business suit (male or female) including tie, pressed white shirt, and conservative, dark colors, or it might be sweater-vests and open collar shirts, but essentially everyone wears the same thing.
You are so prepared it is just ridiculous! You've got your answers prepared for the "Tell me about your biggest failure" question complete with your "What I learned" anecdote; you're ready for the "Tell me about a success where you exceeded your wildest expectations"; and the "Tell me about a time where you provided valuable leadership in a time of crisis" is a guaranteed #1 Best Seller. So why do you feel like you're missing something crucial?
It’s no longer enough to be qualified. If you want a job in today’s business environment, you have to shine, and there’s no better way to show your excellence than by asking excellent questions
—John Kador, Monster Contributing Writer
If you operated a grocery store, it is very likely that you would send out a weekly flyer telling everybody about all of your specially priced items. Potential customers would look and say "I need this, and this, and this…I guess I'll shop there this week." That is a fine strategy when you are dealing with a massive sea of potential buyers.
That is not what you are doing with your résumé. It's time to change the way you think about things.
Variety is the spice of life
Technical engineering jobs cover a very wide range. People tend to think in terms of "The Engineering Department" when considering technical staffing, and then their imagination falters. But it's not all drafting tables under fluorescent lighting.
Technology staffing companies in Dallas are always looking for good technical management job candidates. People are often surprised at how diverse the job can be, and about who would make a good candidate.
It's only natural to assume that the technical manager would spend all day in the office, coordinating his or her department. We're all pretty used to the notion of "managers" sitting in pristine, air conditioned offices like a chess master moving all the pieces around on the board.
Sometimes that is true, but most often it isn't. Technical Management is seldom the "Ivory Tower" scenario as depicted by Hollywood moviemakers.
Back in the middle years of the 20th century, hobbyists that had taught themselves about electronics were in short supply. These autodidacts had been the folks who built crystal radios before the transistor was invented.
Later they taught themselves how to build real radios using vacuum tubes (essentially a single transistor that ranged in size from a cigar tube to a can of tomato paste). Eventually companies like Heath™ began to sell packages with all the needed components to build something in particular. They became known as Heathkits.
Heathkits allowed hobbyists to build all sorts of electronic test equipment such as Ohmmeters and oscilloscopes; it allowed them to build decent quality audio equipment, shortwave radio equipment, televisions, robots, and eventually the famous H-8, H-11, and the H-89 computers.
Those people became the "experts"; the ones you called when you had a problem you couldn't solve. They were the ones that opened the first TV stores; they had a television-repair business and would bring tube testers, spare parts, and other test equipment to your house to fix your TV, since many TVs were essentially "furniture" enclosed in large cabinets and too large to move. They were Tech Support.
IT staffing companies in Dallas will be among the first to tell you that IT jobs are alive and well in the state of Texas. Demand is high and the supply is low. This is just about the best time to be in IT. These are the typical jobs and the salaries which they are currently drawing. It is such a good time to be a nerd or geek!
Ok, it has probably been said before, but I'm going to say it again because a lot of information technology (IT) job seekers just don't seem to get it. Don't specialize when you're just getting started. You don't have the experience, or for that matter, the ability to specialize yet.
Imagine that you have become a Ruby on Rails guru. Everybody in the IT department knows that you are the go-to expert for anything Ruby-related. One day your boss walks up to you and says "I've just hired four new web-app programmers for your department, and I need you to get them up-to-speed. Whip up a PowerPoint presentation for them, would you?"
"Ummm..." you say.
"Prepare a seminar for Monday. You'll have Conference Room B for an hour before lunch, and an hour after lunch. That should be enough time, right? Get back to me by Friday and report your progress. Thanks".
The problem is that you're a UNIX guy… You have no idea how PowerPoint works. Heck, you barely managed to create a satisfactory résumé in Microsoft WORD to get this job…
There's an old adage that exemplifies specialization. It points out that contemporary experts are getting to know more-and-more about less-and-less, and that one day soon we're going to be faced with people that know absolutely everything about next-to-nothing.
You don't want to be that person. All it will do is end up crippling your IT career.
All generalizations are useless…except this one
Be a Generalist. Of course you have interests in specific IT skills and jobs, and you can focus on those areas, but not to the exclusion of other knowledge.
The most successful people in the information technology business are generalists because not only can they work in multiple areas, but their diversified knowledge allows them to see relationships that elude specialists. We're talking about versatility, one of the most useful items you will ever have in your tool kit of skills.