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Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
Mark has been involved in EDA recruiting for over 18 years. He is Founder and President of EDA Careers, but started his career in EDA as executive Vice President at EDA Jobs. Mark was also VP of Marketing and Business Development in the beginning of the Internet revolution and has been a … More »

How was DAC?…Is EDA a Place to Continue Your Career?…When Should You Change Jobs?

 
July 25th, 2017 by Mark Gilbert

DAC Austin, while seemingly not as busy as last year, was one of my best DACS in YEARS. I left DAC with several new clients and job reqs, so from my perspective it was terrific.  However, while my ego thinks I am important and the best judge, others may not, so let’s talk about what I heard talking to so many for three full days. DAC is still the place for us in EDA to come together to do business. Yes, it has lost a bit of its allure as the place for the good ole boys of EDA to come together, but as I notice more and more every year, there are not as many good ole boys left.

As a 20-year veteran, I am considered by many to be an old-timer (which I hate thinking about; how about you just call me a long-time veteran much younger than most)! As always, those that knew the right people, saw the right people.  Most booths were busy and several people I know well were locked in meetings consistently…that is the real criteria.  All in all, DAC 2017 was a success with decent attendance (though I doubt they broke any attendance records this year, we shall know soon enough) and contrary to the beliefs of some, DAC will be around for many years to come.

As for the future of EDA, I doubt it is a secret to anyone to learn that EDA is not the first choice on new grads’ agendas and that many quality engineers have migrated out.  Careers in IOT or similar spokes on the proverbial wheel of Internet programming and functionality are, as some would say, a bit more exciting.  The reality is that no one ever claimed that EDA is the most exciting field in the business, though those that go to DAC and see the endless magicians and parties might somewhat disagree. (Most of them don’t get out much).

While there is certainly a bit more excitement in some of the more social or even SaaS type projects, EDA remains strong, is growing and is without doubt, the foundation for all computer circuity-type development.  Brilliant people enter our fray and spend their entire careers here learning, developing and challenging their knowledge base and the realm of possibilities.  The unimaginable becomes reality and EDA is what makes all that developmentally possible. People stay because this is still a secure industry and one that takes years to comprehend and master.  They know that their work, while not noticed by many, is the real incubation place that allows for all the computer development around us, and that my friends is a really good feeling and significant achievement.  Quite simply stated, without EDA, all types of devices that require circuitry remain stagnant, and it is quite humbling to know that our world plays the integral role in that progress.

So here is the question…knowing you like and want to remain in EDA and knowing you’re good at what you do, how do you best advance your career? Smart money always says that the more you know, the more valuable you are to a company and I subscribe to that thinking, with one significant caveat…deeper domain knowledge is usually better than wider.  Let me explain.  In our design world, the design knowledge categories we work in have significant depths–as deep as the deepest oceans.  Being an expert in an area, and having the ability to dive deep, makes you a real asset to a prospective new employer. If you are in Layout for example, knowing the domain intricately will no doubt serve you well and impress those employers that need that level of expertise. Having said that, going wide also has merits and is also something you can and should consider in your career development. From Layout for example, perhaps it is more Custom, maybe Routing or Floorplanning.  These are all branches and part of the physical space surrounding layout, all things that could aid you as you change companies and move your career along.

As I said, prospective companies want expertise…this is critical to understand for two important reasons.  First, this helps that company NOW, allowing you to make a more immediate contribution to whatever they are developing.  It is your ability to make that contribution because of your specific domain knowledge base, that puts you in a stronger position to be considered quickly.  Secondly, when you submit your resume for a new opportunity, you will come up in a search and easily pass the first level of inspection of your resume.  Like I always say, Keywords and simple explanations are critical and if your resume does not clearly reflect your areas of strength and knowledge, you won’t even come up in the search or pass the first level of inspection, thus giving you a zero chance of being considered.

So lastly, let’s discuss when you might want to either change companies or change careers.  Changing companies is only a good idea if you are not happy currently or if an opportunity is presented that is simply more exciting and too good an offer to refuse.  Remember and take this to heart; know that when you are happy overall, that that happiness is not always easy to replicate somewhere else.  Liking where you work and the people you work with should be an important part of your decision to change, as it is especially nice to like the place and people you spend the majority of your waking hours with…do not take that lightly.

As for career paths, think hard and fast before deciding to move out of your area of expertise. That choice takes you from being in demand and NEEDED to perhaps being given an opportunity to prove yourself.  I am an advocate of moving out of your comfort zone, but not as much an advocate of leaping out of that zone, especially if you are good at what you do.  Just know, there might be significant ramp-up time before you make any, let alone a significant contribution.  Coming from an area where you were a respected authority, you might not be as well-respected as you were in your previous career.  Sometimes you simply want to do something different, but just make sure you have really thought through all the ramifications.

By the way, my WHITE JACKET was a smashing success and still up to date, my most brilliant marketing endeavor ever (as I was told by many). DAC is in San Francisco next year…next planned conference, ARM…see you there.

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