Everyone I've known who changed engineering jobs in recent years did so through networking, and I've never met anyone who successfully landed a job offer from an application process that started online -- and that includes monster & careerbuilder job listings.
The example mentioned in the article is a good indicator of how hopeless the online approach is, both for the job seeker and the employer. 29,000 applications for one fairly standard engineering position, and the screening software determined that not one of them was qualified. Perhaps the screening software was too rigorous in its buzzword search & match, because one would hope that out of 29,000 applicants, at least a handful of them truly WERE qualified for the position!
I agree with the article if it's saying that online search is a hindrance, but I only agree if the online stuff takes the place of networking. Employers want to hire good people. They're less concerned about price and specific skills than they are that the person is honest, smart, and can hit the ground running and not cost them months. Their fear is hiring someone who doesn't works out and adds months onto their project. They need to feel warm fuzzies that the person they're hiring is honest and competent. http://bit.ly/Ne6ljt
In many ways, you answered your own question. First, what is a good engineer. Second, what is a good job. Third, how do you find a job.
1. Research the requirements for a Good job.
2. Assess yourself to see if you qualify.
3. Correct your deficiencies.
4. Find a company with a good job opening and put a very pointed application request with career details, reliable references and a list of your capabilities vs the job requirement.
Now you still have to convince the people doing the hiring that you are right for the job AND right for their company. You need to understand who you will work with.
None of this is new and I doubt if the issues have really changed. You just really need to prepare yourself well before a company identifies you as the RIGHT hire.
Just my opinion.
Comment, part 2.
I also had the challenges of being at the top of one field while entering the bottom pay scale of the new. I also became well schooled in relating seemingly unrelated skills into transferable ones.
I used all of my vacation from my then current employer to do some job shadowing, day-long interviewing and testing and the like. In the end I snatched up my job the old fashioned way. The company called career services at my school who passed along my current resume. I interviewed twice and after much negotiation we came to an agreement. I really like where I am and enjoy the challenges I face everyday. It has also been made clear that I have the ability to move up so that is reassuring.
The newborn is now 4 and I am back in school plugging away. After a short break, I am still working full time and going to school full time for my BSEE. In a little over a year the bachelors will be complete. Then, MSEE? We'll see. I'm sorry for the long comment but I hope my experience can help someone.
Finding another job (even if you already have one) is another full time job. While I do not like most online application processes, they are there and will not likely go away. The filtering system certainly eliminates qualified individuals but is that the fault of the system? Yes and No. The person in HR is usually given a list of requirements that are then blindly "plugged in" so to speak for the filter to search. In the job market today an applicant MUST tweak and redefine their resume for each application sent.
I will briefly relate my own experiences as an example. I was making a career change from graphic design to electrical engineering so one can imagine the difficulty already...
My dad was/is an engineer and my mom was an artist. After going as far as one can really do in the art field I needed a bigger challenge. Now enter the "bright" idea to manage a full time work schedule and full time school, a newborn, and an older house in constant need of TLC.
I managed to complete my associate degree with a 4.0 and perfect attendance so I figure: "...a new job should be snap!" Well, um, it wasn't. I found I needed to tailor my resume for each application I sent out. When I started doing this I noticed my "application to scheduled interview ratio" become much better. A little math: 127 applications sent out, 31 job interviews (this includes phone interviews, 2nd and in some cases 3rd interviews), 4 job offers, 1 job worth taking, significant pay-cut.