Be Professional – that’s part of being an Engineer in Australia

I meet many newly arrived migrant engineers in Australia. Many fail to make a good first impression. They put themselves at a disadvataage before they have even spoken by presenting poorly.

Every time you go to an event to meet other engineers you may meet a potential employer – Prepare properly.

An Australian employer wants an engineer who will make his company look good. Some one who will impress customers.Here are some things you should do every time you are going to a networking event or making a cold call or job interview:

Dress

As a professional engineer, you should look like a professional. A suit (and tie for men) is standard dress even in hot parts of the country. An exception is construction sites where you can be more practical. But look smart. Be clean, with tidy hair, and be clean shaven (unless you have a beard). You are selling yourself; look your best. If in doubt, dress up.

Behaviour and body language

You are on show the moment you walk through the door. If you are offhand or rude to the receptionist, others will see and will not be impressed. When you enter a room, smile and look everyone in the eye. If you are carrying a briefcase, have it in your left hand; you need to be ready to shake hands with people as you meet them. Shake hands firmly with both men and women.

Smalltalk

Generally employers will want to put you at ease. They will ask questions like “Did you find our office okay?” Answer with a sentence such as “Yes, thanks. The instructions given were good. It took longer than I had expected due to the traffic.” Everyone will feel awkward if just you say “Yes.” Be prepared to talk about the weather, a common subject to open conversations. The next most popular subject is any current major sporting event involving Australians.

Read the newspaper or watch the TV news so you can talk about poplar topics. It takes surprisingly little knowledge to hold a conversation by making broad statements and asking general questions. For example, Australians love cricket, but it is a complex and mysterious game to many people. However, if you know the Australian cricket team has just won or lost a match, you can always comment: “Did you see the cricketers win/lose yesterday? They seem to be playing well/not so well at present.”

Such smalltalk, or idle conversation, is an important sign that you will be able to talk with colleagues in the workplace. Practice smalltalk. It puts you at ease and creates a good first impression.

In Australia it is important to make a good first impression.