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I have been working for this company for 18 months now. At the beginning, the job was very good. But as time passed business began to slow down. Currently the business is at an all time low. The problem that I am facing right now is that we are six people of the same work profile, and I have the least experience.

For quite a time now, say 4 months, my boss has not communicated with me at all - very few mail exchanges and very limited conversation. I am not getting any kind of work assignments here either, and it seems like I have just been killing time for months.

What should I do?

Since the company I am working belongs to a niche industry and there are hardly any competitors, should I look into changing my work profile? How easy is it to change your work profile and industry nowadays? I am a mechanical engineer by qualification.

  • Hello RDS, and welcome to The Workplace! You will get better answers if you take a look at the help center, and then edit your question to be in line with our site guidelines. Additionally, you may want to look at these questions: 1, 2 as they may help. – jmac Oct 25 '13 at 7:38
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    Ask the boss for a meeting and find out. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Oct 25 '13 at 8:14
  • Congratulations, you have just discovered what it means to be "on the bench". If you want to know if your boss is having any plans for you, you should talk to him/her and find out. – Masked Man Oct 25 '13 at 10:22
  • Different people do different things in these situations. Those who tend to excel always seem to manage to find ways to benefit the company, many times opening up new opportunities for theirself in the process. Most others just never seem to find useful things to do. Which type of person are you? – Dunk Oct 25 '13 at 17:51
  • Time to look for a new job. Learn all you can about the technology used (java, spring, mvc, mvp, .net, etc). Do all you can for the projects. – Blessed Geek Oct 27 '13 at 8:25
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I've heard stories like this before. Generally they start out as 'when I come in to work I don't know whether I'll be working on my stuff or company stuff' - in short, whether the day will be spent browsing the web and tinkering or doing real work for a customer. The next thing I hear is they're laid off.

One of the stories in the business press is that the construction equipment market is going through a severe retrenchment. If you're doing something in this business they may be waiting for things to improve, and your job is literally safe even though you're 'benched'. Recommendation: learn every last thing you can about whatever CAD tools you have, FEA (Finite Element Analysis), the way engineering designs are translated to manufacturing, and so forth. In short, 'hack' the larger scale environment you're operating in to see how your work fits with others. Knowing how to document all this stuff is also highly valued.

Keeping up with the trade press doesn't hurt, although I suspect most benched engineers do that out of habit.

If your company has an 'emerging market', learn whatever you can about it. That will most likely be where your work is focused when it resumes.

The nosier you appear to be, the more likely the boss will notice. Eventually the two of you will chat just so he can find out what you're up to.

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    That last paragraph assumes you don't have an oblivious pointy-haired boss. – Amy Blankenship Oct 25 '13 at 18:06
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No matter where and what you are working, you should always have alternatives around.

The one who has alternatives is in a position to negotiate and have a deal. Otherwise you are entirely dependable on the disposition of your boss, whoever he is.

So my answer is, take whatever you deem appropriate under the current circumstances - changing work profile/ establishing more contacts in the industry, whatever.

It is not so important what exactly you are going to do now (I am not saying that it is not important, I am saying that it is not so important) as it is that you incorporate "at any place and time have at least one more work opportunity out there" as a practice of life.

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