I'm a computer engineer (as academic background) and I've almost never done the same things twice (I've got some experiences, but I'm not an "old" engineer). I've been looking for new opportunities, and I was wondering how much should I stick with my current experience.

The general thing that actually characterize my profile I think is that I always worked in R & D, but never for the same thing. I've worked on cryptography, machine learning... but also graphics, physics and most recently hardware optimization (which is my longest experience, and also my first industrial experience). I have many many interests in engineering (for example I'd like to work in computational fluid dynamics and related algorithms). I don't have a PhD, but I enjoy research.

But let's say you're an employer and I introduce myself in the way I just did (with such passion for many different things because I like the idea of gathering different experiences since it makes you develop a very flexible mind) how would you evaluate me?

Would you think I can be a very good resource? If not should I instead try to get more and more specialized on one specific thing?

I mean I have some specific skills (technical skills) in which I'm particularly good at, but in terms of ... let's say theoretical background is it a problem for an employer to hire me?

Because I'm trying to understand what usually an employer look for (we are talking about R & D positions).

More info:

My relevent working experience covers 5 1/2 years. I have never quit a job, and have held numerous positions. I worked for my university for the first year where I worked on two different projects. The second job I worked in a start-up focusing on medical imaging, then I moved to an industry for an R&D position in a computer graphics company. I mostly work on numerical algorithms and how these affect hardware designs at a high level.

  • 1
    Can you give us more information about the number of years you've been doing this, and the average amount of time you've spend per project/technology? Those are important.
    – John Feltz
    Nov 16 '16 at 19:36
  • While the question in the title is answerable, keep in mind that we can't offer resume evaluations or personalised career advice.
    – Lilienthal
    Nov 16 '16 at 19:40
  • Sure sure. That wasn't my goal, I just wanted a general thought not a specific advice for career. Mostly an opinion. Because one day I could be from the other side of the stick xD. Nov 16 '16 at 19:46
  • @JohnFeltz does the update help? Nov 16 '16 at 19:48
  • Just as a practical matter, you aren't going to be able to work on the same things throughout your career. Otherwise I'd still be doing electric powerflow & stability programs on an IBM mainframe - in Fortran 77. Or doing 80x86 assembly graphics libraries for DOS. Or,,, Technology changes.
    – jamesqf
    Nov 18 '16 at 6:05

The thing that you have that an R&D employer would value most is that you're willing and eager to learn new things. That's fundamentally what R&D is.

What you have to avoid is giving the impression that nothing is ever good enough for you, or that you get bored easily, or that you're picky about your work environment. If you only spend a few months on one subject before you get (from the perspective of the employer) burned out, bored, or stumped, then you're not an appealing candidate.

(following your edit) Three jobs in six years is not unusual, and should not be an obstacle.

  • So it's no an "obstacle" for an employer hiring a person who has experience in several fields. Nov 16 '16 at 19:48
  • @user8469759 no but if he ask specifically for 5 years in one field when you have only 2, you might not be a fit :)
    – Walfrat
    Nov 18 '16 at 8:49

Broad experience at lower levels is fine, even desirable. For specialist positions though, experience in the speciality is more important. So the higher up the ladder you want to be, the more you should stick to one field.

All else being equal an employer will take the guy/lady with the most 'relevant' experience.


It also depends on the employer. If we are talking about multi nationals, you want to specialise more for the future. Even if they operate in different fields, they can hire so many employees that they will want to have specialised experts in each one.

If you combine two fields of expertise that are used together in companies but rarely mastered by the same person, it can still be great for you though. You can be the interface that makes the two teams of experts understand each other. Even if you take that role on only informally at the beginning, this can land you into leadership- rather than expert roles. You wouldn't need to worry that the experts still know their own field better than you. Up to you to decide if you find this desirable.

Smaller companies or startups that operate in dynamic environments cannot hire a separate expert for everything. They will hire a few experts for what they perceive to be the core business but they also love allrounders. These types of opportunities come of course with other risks and benefits than the corporate jobs.

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