|SIX TIPS FOR A BETTER ENGINEERING RESUME
by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC
One of the most key elements of success in a job search is the resume and the engineering
resume can often be one of the more difficult documents to develop. The engineering
resume is the engineering job seeker’s primary marketing document that sells the
product – the skills and experience of the engineer. To be effective, an engineering
resume must grab the attention of the reader in 35-45 seconds. A good engineering
resume will extend that attention span to over a minute. A successful resume will
prompt the reader to contact the job seeker. In effect, the success of the job search
revolves around the effectiveness of the first step – the resume.
No one knows your background and experience better than you. Most engineers can
get the basics of their projects and experience down on paper in a sensible fashion.
What most engineers who write their own resumes have difficulty with is making that
sell to the reader. Here are six tips to help you make your engineering resume sell.
1. Select the best organizational format. Most resumes are written in chronological
(reverse time order) format, but that does not mean that the chronological choice
is best for you. A combination format may be best. The combination format is evenly
balanced between skill set description, achievements, and employment history, with
the advantage being that projects can be highlighted for greater impact.
2. Assume that your resume will be viewed on a computer screen rather than on a
piece of paper. Most resumes are sent, received, and managed via PC. That does not
mean that the document has to be drab and ugly, visually. Many engineers who have
images or pictures of project work have good success with creating a CD ROM portfolio
of these images.
3. Make absolutely sure your document is error free. An error in a resume can often
be the killer between two closely matched candidates. Engineers are expected to
be detail-oriented so an error in the engineering resume reflects badly on possible
4. Find a balance between wordiness and lack of detail. Employers need to see details
about your work history and engineering experience, but they don’t need to know
everything. The fact that you were Den Leader in your Cub Scout troop is irrelevant.
Keep information germane to the goal of attaining an interview.
5. Think “accomplishments” rather than “job duties”. What made you stand out from
the crowd? How did you come up with a way to do things better, more efficiently,
or for less cost? What won honors for you? Information such as this will be what
makes you grab attention and put your engineering resume on the top of the stack.
6. Keep it positive. Reason for leaving a job, setbacks, failed initiatives, etc.
do not have a place on an engineering resume. Employers are seeking people who can
contribute, have a positive attitude, are enthusiastic, and have successfully performed
similar job skills in the past. Concentrate on communicating these issues and avoid
any detracting information.
Remember, resumes do not get jobs – people get jobs. Resumes get interviews. Most
first time job interviews are conducted via telephone rather than in person as they
used to be. Make sure you are prepared for that telephone call when it arrives.
And make sure you have an engineering resume that will make the phone ring!