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I have been approached by a tier 1 automotive supplier about a position as an engineer.

I have been with my current employer for 20 years and have been an engineer there for the past 5. Not automotive relaated buisness.......
I have only had a few interviews in the past few years and am more than a little anxious about the idea of changing employers.
My questions are : What should I expect to be offered for an engineering position in the Southeast? How hectic is the auto industry supply?How much are most places willing to negociate vacation time. (I currently have 4 weeks and hate to drop back to 2 for the next five year?
 

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What should I expect to be offered for an engineering position in the Southeast?
First, are you a degreed engineer or have you been promoted into engineering. That usually will make a difference with the auto industry. Second, it may depend on the type of engineering position and how much of your experience they feel is beneficial. For instance, I have had really good offers to go do quality eng, but IMO that's a horrible job and no eng I know wants them which = high $ even w/out experience. I'm assuming that since either they or a headhunter contacted you that you have an idea of the package they are offering.
How hectic is the auto industry supply?
I think that depends upon who you're supplying, what you are supplying, and your actual function in the whole shebang. For instance, Honda has a rep for being very hard on it's suppliers. I have a close friend who has worked for Dana/Eaton, Zolner Piston, Borg-Warner, and now American Axle. He has had varying experiences with each again depending on what his reposibilities were, who they were supplying, and what they supplied.
How much are most places willing to negociate vacation time. (I currently have 4 weeks and hate to drop back to 2 for the next five year? I think this varies. I know I had to drop back to 2 weeks from 3 when I hired on at my current job and I don't get back to 3 until 7yrs! The other pros way outweighed that con though.
On a side note, you've been with your current employer 20yrs, they must be doing something right. Why leave?
 

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I can't help you with the Engineer salary questions, but I just coached my wife though a similar situation. I told her to stand firm on the items she found the most important, salary and hours. When she was offered a lower than average salary she said she wouldn't work at anything over X amount. Then the interviewer asked her why she expects more than most people with 2 years experience and my wife said bluntly, "because I'm really good and I'm worth it." :: She got the job and the money. :) If you don't act like you're worth it they won't either.
 

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The automotive business is a little on the down side. Where I work they have layed off a couple of engineers. I work for a stamping company. One of them had to move to MI to find another job and that took more than 6 months to find. I don't know how things are in the south but I would check in to the past history of the company as far as lay offs go. Are they growing? Why do they want you?

I can tell you that working in the automotive stamping business that I get stuck late at work because we have to make a shipment.
 

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Hey Mach1 you are in the box seat, someone wants you, you have been with your current lot for 20 years, TELL them what you want and let them negotiate with you. If it dosnt work out what have you lost, and if it does you have exactly what you asked for. Good luck. IMHO go for 4 weeks and a four day week. It does happen.
 

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I work in the automotive industry and things are definitely down. I agree you have to look at ALL the factors—not just the $$. Look at the cost of living, HEALTH insurance, and other fringe benefits they may offer. Now the Southeast is definitely a growing market for the auto industry. Seen many companies use the tax breaks and cheaper labor to compete in the marketplace. Now back to your specific questions.—Money.—well depends on the specific job and again education. Tier 1 supplier usually means corporate—and corporate is competitive within. Just remember internal politics’. You have to feel your way through the interviews and adjust. Second question was about how hectic. Since you mentioned supplier—suppliers are getting hit hard. It’s a cut-throat business—seen some dirty tactics. I would say very hectic. Your last question concerned vacation. 4 weeks will probably be hard—but definitely stick to 3. I can’t stress the need enough to look at Health Care. Many people overlook it but if tragedy hits—it can bankrupt you in a hurry. I’m a young man who lost a wife to cancer—without decent Health Care it would have bankrupt me as well. I had great insurance—we came across many who didn’t. Hopefully you came across a gem and this new opportunity will benefit you and your family. Good luck and remember to get a big garage for your Mustangs if you move to the southeast.

Rob
 

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If you currently have a 4 wk vacation benefit, be firm on asking for an equivalent benefit from the asking employer. Same for salary and other benefits. Why change jobs if the new one offers nothing better?
 

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MachI,

I noticed your located in Mtn city, I grew up in Bristol and know what the engineering labor force looks like for your area. If you have to move, factor that into the eqn. If the new company won't budge on vaccation and/or other benefits then they MUST make up for it in salary. 20% increase is generally the rule of thumb in such cases for someone to jump.

Also, look at future benefits. When, if ever, will you be getting 5 weeks of vaccation? Do you have a pension now? Does the new company have one? 401k matching? Flex account? Medical/dental/vision? Commute? Company car(tax implications)? Required travel? How bad is it at the old company? How good is it?

I wouldn't, however, seek more money from your current employer. That shows lack of loyality and wandering eyes. However, if you did, the current company may even match the new salary for you until they find your replacement. Then your let go because you're too expensive. To do such a thing, the company wouldn't really have that much more money invested in you. A $20k increase in your salary would only cost them an additional $1500 for 4 weeks worth of work from you - until your replacement is found. Companies have a way of just paying market value for employees. They'd hire the new guy w/ 2 yrs experience in at a big reduction from your old salary and save the company bundles in salary AND benefits.

One final thought, don't feel that you have to be loyal to your old company - they aren't loyal to you, even though they want you to be extreemly loyal. Its a business decision. They'd lay you off in a minute if hard times hit, its just a business decision.

So there's some pros and cons. Let us know how it goes.

BTW, there's a small car lot across the mtn in Jefferson that always seems to have several old mustangs and vets for sale. Ever seen or been by there?
 

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Sounds like you have some pretty good advice so far. I can't speak about the salary in the southeast, but offer the following. Job interview questions have changed quite a bit in the last twenty years. Don't be too surprised if you aren't asked any technical questions. It seems today the employers are asking things like :

1. Qustions regarding current events. Good indicator if you are aware of your surroundings - Situational Awareness

2. Talk about a difficult situation that was presented upon you and how did you handle it. This may include technical as well as personnel type issues. Discrimination in the workplace is huge.

3. Talk about some of your successful projects/situations and also some of your failures. How did you handle them

4. How would you handle a PITA boss/co-worker/customer.


The touchy-feely and how do you handle the situation type questions are what most of the large corporate employers are asking. They assume if you have been in an engineering position for some time, you probably know your stuff.

Good luck and hold tight on the things that are important to you (ie: vacation, salary,etc), but remember the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Lou
 
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