It would seem that an unfortunate consequence of the adoption of CAD is that a primary focus is all too often being placed on a piping designer's exposure to a certain software, rather than their experiences and abilities in piping design itself. While small and large companies alike may suffer from this prejudice, I think that this is more likely to occur when dealing with the larger engineering houses where the first contact is with the company's HR or an agency. It usually goes something like this; a client awards a contract to an engineering company and the design software of choice for the project is PDS, PDMS, Bentley AutoPlant, etc. The project management charges the department managers with staffing the project. The department managers work with their HR and, if contract personnel are to be employed, an agency or agencies may also be involved (many larger companies will not allow direct contract hire). The HR and the agency personnel will take the first cuts at the resumes submitted, but, often lacking an understanding of what a piping designer does, they tend to focus their search on designers that have experience in the mandated software.
So, what is a piping designer who is applying to work on a project that utilizes an unfamiliar software to do? Firstly, make sure your resume lists the years of experience with the 3D CAD software that you are familiar with and emphasive in your cover letter that your familiarity with these software means that you can adapt readily to the new software with a minimal learning curve. It is most likely that this will not be the first time that you've had to change software and maybe you can state examples of how quickly your familiarity with one software enabled you to adapt to another. If you have experience in the software of choice, make sure this clearly comes through in your resume. Also, if you know the piping lead or department manager you could approach them and let them know you're interested in a position and have submitted your resume. It can help in the sense that they may be willing to inform HR to let your resume through. I have to make it clear though that I am only suggesting this if you have a prior history with this individual and feel that you had a close enough working relationship to be comfortable enough to do so, otherwise it may go against you. Even when it is the case that you had a good prior working experience you must let them know that your resume has already been submitted (if it has) to the HR or an agency because resumes that come from two different directions may cause complications that will also go against you.
The above may not give much hope to someone currently looking for employment who lacks experience in the software of choice, and I think the real answer to this dilemma is that department managers and piping leads have to start making it clear to those assisting them in resume selection that they are primarily looking for piping designers preferably with experience in a particular software, but not exclusively with experience in that particular software and certainly not just for CAD operators of that particular software. The managers and leads have to differentiate between a piping designer and a CAD operator for the HR and agency personnel and clearly explain what they need for the positions posted. While the edge may go to the individual with experience in the software of choice when comparing two individuals of equal experience in piping design, this should not be the deciding factor.
Personally speaking, when I was a piping lead I wanted to see all of the resumes and I would decide who I would interview. I always made my final selections based on piping experience, attitude, personality and chemistry. Software experience is low down on my list. My rational was, and is, that if I have a really good piping designer in front of me with a solid five, ten or fifteen years of piping design experience, I'd be silly to let them go based on a lack of exposure to the 3D software we were using. A piping designer with five, ten or fifteen years of piping design experience and hands on experience with any 3D CAD software can become proficient in a new 3D CAD software within months, whereas five, ten or fifteen years of piping design experience can only be gained in five, ten or fifteen years. None of us has the time to fully train a good CAD operator to become a good piping designer during the course of one project, but we can most certainly arrange to train someone with the right piping design experience in a new sofware within ample time to make them productive to satisfy the needs of the project.
Last edited by Flowr8 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:29 pm, edited 6 times in total.