A Reddit thread (now archived) examined some common misconceptions about the engineering industry — mainly, how job descriptions are often a "wish list," and not necessarily the minimum credentials to land the job.
This came as Neuralink CEO and Founder Elon Musk tweeted his desire for exceptional engineers, instead of only people with 'brain expertise.'
Engineering industry 'secrets' show shortcut into great jobs
Preparing for a career in engineering is a daunting task. Beyond university performance and a solid GPA, many entry-level job descriptions can feel like a catch-22 — with the dreaded "previous experience preferred" clause.
Some may wonder how anyone can begin a career when even the entry-level jobs seem to require previous experience. Luckily, this paradox was addressed in a recent Reddit thread.
Engineering job requirements are 'wish list' for companies
One poster who claimed they have screened resumes for small companies said: "'[R]equirements' are more of a wish-list situation. Never let some unchecked boxes deter you from applying."
"[Y]ou have no idea what the applicant pool is like," they continued. "The biggest boon, especially at small companies, is someone who legitimately cares."
Big companies can seem intimidating because they're used to putting applicants through the ropes of a large-scale hiring machine — which can feel impersonal and even random. But smaller companies often add a more personal touch to the hiring process — since CEOs may work shoulder-to-shoulder with new-hires, they're often more open to fresh problem-solving perspectives than a perfect resume.
Nothing to lose in applying for high-level jobs
Another Redditor posted their experience, saying: "My company once put out a job vacancy for a position that would assist me in my job. Looking purely at the job requirements, I did not feel that I was [adequately qualified] to assist myself in a job I've been doing for 2 years," they began, explaining how their would-be assistant must be more proficient than them, going by the job requirements.
"If you're looking for work and a job seems even remotely like you could do it, apply anyway; it's not like you have anything to lose," they added.
Elon Musk also wants talent outside the standard resume
Recently, Elon Musk took to Twitter to voice his openness in hiring people on the basis of capability, and not necessarily a standard resume.
If you feel Neuralink might have incorrectly overlooked your resume or declined to make an offer, please lmk in comment below https://t.co/G81RblBZ0Z— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 19, 2020
"If you feel Neuralink might have incorrectly overlooked your resume or declined to make an offer, please lmk in comment below," tweeted Musk, doing away with the typical bureaucracy of hiring managers and resume submissions in favor of direct connection on his timeline.
A prior track record of exceptional achievement in engineering *is* required, but *no* prior experience working on the brain or human physiology is required. We will teach you what’s known about the brain, which is not much tbh.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 19, 2020
Neuralink wants exceptional engineers, not 'brain experts'
He later commented on the initial tweet to elaborate, saying: "A prior track record of exceptional achievement in engineering *is* required, but *no* prior experience working on the brain or human physiology is required. We will teach you what's known about the brain, which is not much tbh," tweeted Musk.
So it seems the consensus around hiring the engineers of tomorrow is changing — even for bleeding-edge companies like Neuralink, as it works to adapt digital technologies to react and interact directly with the neurons of the brain itself.
Of course, engineers need previous experience to work at Neuralink, but the lesson for aspiring engineers is not to rule oneself out of a job simply because some of the requirements go beyond previous experience. Engineering is an inherently creative craft, where innovation often trumps routine and a comprehensive resume.