When companies post an engineering position, they get flooded with application. I’ve created the following engineering resume tips to increase your chances of getting your resume selected out of the flood. You need to add in the awesomeness.
The average time a recruiter spends looking at a resume is only six seconds. If the resume doesn’t grab their attention, it gets discarded. If the resume breaks one of many unwritten rules, it gets discarded. If the recruiter finds anything wrong with the resume or just doesn’t like it, it gets discarded. Hopefully these engineering resume tips will keep you from making those easy mistakes that could get you thrown out.
As a Professional Engineer, I have reviewed hundreds of resumes from graduate engineers looking for their first job. Over the years, I have learned what separates the good resumes that are selected to move on, from the bad resumes that get discarded. Using that information, I developed these engineering resume tips. I believe that these resume tips can greatly increase your chances of getting hired.
These engineering resume tips are not specific to one discipline of engineering. The same engineering resume tips that work for a civil engineer will also work for an electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, industrial engineer, and so on.
Ok, lets start looking at how we can improve your engineering resume.
Engineering Resume Tip No. 1 – Fill Up the Page
If you are an entry level engineer, your resume at a minimum needs to be one complete page. That means it should be around 350-380 words in total.
If you are an engineer with around three or four years of experience, your resume should fill up a page and a half. If you are an engineer with over eight years of experience, your resume should be two pages long. Please don’t go over two pages in length though; people don’t want to read a resume book.
Most entry level engineers struggle to fill up one complete page. While I think they have the experience and achievements to create a one-page resume, they forget it all when they start writing a resume. A half-page resume is the opposite of awesome, it is just sad.
To help with this, I developed the Engineering Resume Checklist. It walks you through each section of your resume to help you brainstorm things you can incorporate. I have included the Engineering Resume Checklist as part of a free giveaway titled Improve Your Engineering Resume. You can download it here for free: Click here.
If you don’t follow this engineering resume tip, the other engineering resume tips won’t help you. Leaving too much white space automatically deters recruiters from reading your resume.
When I review resumes from engineering students, I skip the ones that are sparsely filled out. I figure that if the graduate engineer had good achievements and experiences, they should have been able to fill at least one page.
For entry level engineers, see the list below for a way start remembering all those great achievements you have.
Scholastic Achievements – List academic achievements. Include awards, grants, or scholarships that you have won.
Certifications – Have you have already obtained your Engineer-in-Training (E.I.T.)?
Senior Design Projects
Any other information that is specialized to you that will make employers want to hire you.
If you are an engineer with five years of experience or more, you need to forget all about your college experiences. Your recent work history will be a better representation of your abilities than your college experience. That is why your resume should be focused on all the engineering experience you have gained since graduation.
Engineering Resume Tip No. 2 – Make Your Resume Sell You
Your engineering resume is a marketing tool to get you hired. It is not a list of facts and figures. When you read back through all the engineering resume tips, you will see that all of them are geared toward making your resume a better sales tool.
So how in the world do I follow this engineering resume tip? Here are a few examples:
Companies like hiring people from the surrounding area. When you hire local people, there is a better chance they will stay, and there is no relocation drama and so on. So when you apply for a job, make sure the location listed on your resume is the closest location you have to the business.
Let’s say you are college senior applying for a job in Dallas, Texas. You went to school in Austin, but you grew up in Florida. For your resume address, should you put the Florida address or your Austin, Texas address? If you guessed Austin, you’re right!
The experience section is the most important part of your resume. Focus on your engineering experiences because that is what your recruiter is going to care about. Make sure each experience you write down on your resume is written so it shows either:
What you gained (learned)
What you achieved
Demonstrates a soft skill (like teamwork, time management, etc.)
When I had an engineering internship, I spent a lot of time binding copies of project manuals. Instead of writing:
I copied and bound project manuals for my manager.
Assisted in the development of eight project manuals while learning the specific requirements associated with these technical documents.
See how the second one sounds a lot better than just saying, “copied and bound”?
For the skill section of your resume, the best way to sell yourself is to show that you have the skills the job position is looking for. This is easy; just follow these three easy steps:
Read the job posting for any soft and hard skills necessary. For engineering positions, required hard skills tend to be focused around computer programs. Examples could be modeling (HEC-RAS), drafting (SolidWorks or AutoCAD), GIS, Microsoft Project, programing, or many more.
If you have this skill, make sure it is listed on your resume! Don’t just list the skill as one word; expand on it. Really sell it to the recruiter that you have the skills they are looking for.
If you don’t have the skill, go get it. This is really true if you see the skill pop up on multiple job positions. You can generally sign up to take either free or relatively cheap training courses on any needed computer software. If you do that, you are at least able to represent an introductory skill level in whatever program the position requires.
Engineering Resume Tip No. 3 – Make it Visually Appealing
Humans are visual creatures. We like pretty objects, pretty photos, pretty people, and pretty resumes. The same is true for the engineer reading your resume. If your resume is not visually appealing, it is going to minimize the chances that someone reads it.
Up until several years ago, all you would have to do is download a Microsoft Word resume template. That was the gold standard for making your resume appealing. However, as technology has advanced, the bar has been raised.
If you want to boost your resume to another level, try a resume drafting website. The software on these websites is designed to help you create a visually appealing resume. Just looking through resume examples on their website, you can see how appealing it can make a resume look.
A lot of these websites offer a subscription service. I don’t completely understand why you would need this service month after month. My guess is that they are marketing it to people who want to update their resume for every job application. IF possible, I would just purchase the one-month option. Even better, some companies offer a free trial. That is a risk-free way to see if you can take your resume up a notch.
Just remember, a visually appealing resume will not make up for a poorly written resume or one with no practical content. All the fancy appeal does is increase the chance it gets read. It is still up to you to make sure what they read makes them want to interview you.
Whichever resume software you chose, make sure it that the final product is compliant with applicant tracking systems (ATS). ATS is the software that manages the recruiting and hiring process, including job postings and job applications. You must get through this AI gate keeper before your resume can be seen by human eyes.
If the information in your resume is hidden in images, is in tables or can not be converted to a Microsoft Word document, it is probably not compatible with ATS. Check with whichever service you select that their resumes work well with ATS systems.
The Winning Entry-Level Engineering Resume
Using these engineering resume tips, you are bound to add some awesomeness into your resume. If you enjoyed the tips and you want to dig deeper, check out my free guide, The Winning Entry-Level Engineering Resume.
I personally understand how difficult it can be to create a great engineering resume. As a professional engineer myself, I went through the same struggle trying to write my first resume. That is why I created my free resume guide to help entry level engineers make a better resume. In my free guide, you get:
Click on the link to get your free copy.
Way to take charge of your engineering career. With that attitude, nothing can stop you. Your successful future awaits!
If you are looking for additional resources, check out these two blog posts that might interest you: