Tips for Creating an Effective Engineering Resume was originally published on Firsthand.
It goes without saying that a great resume will help distinguish you from the multitude of other applicants out there. Engineering resumes can be particularly tricky, and demand in the industry is high, which makes a stand-out resume even more important. Today we’re going to go over some tips to help make yours more effective. So, without any further ado, let’s begin.
Summary of Qualifications
The idea of including an objective statement is hotly debated, but if you’re putting together a solid engineering resume, you’re better off including a summary of qualifications in place of an objective statement. The reason for this is that an objective statement might not align with the specifics outlined in the job listing, which could cause the hiring manager to toss your resume (along with your candidacy) straight into the trash.
Of course, you can make the argument that you could tailor your objective statement to match the specifics of each job you apply for, but a statement of qualifications has the potential to be much more impactful. The point is you want to make yourself stand out, while also grabbing the attention of the hiring manager quickly. With a strong summary of qualifications opening up your resume, you’ll have a much better chance at completing both of those tasks.
Your summary statement should be two or three sentences. You don’t want your resume to be more than two pages, so do your best to keep it brief so you have plenty of room left over. Lead with how many years of experience you have, followed by a short summary of your background. Next, list any qualifications, licenses or certifications you might have. Below is some example framework that you can build off of:
Forward-thinking environmental engineer with 5 years of experience in the industrial manufacturing industry, and a strong background in project development and pollution control technology. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
The trick here is to choose some nice adjectives to make your experience and background sound more interesting, while also maintaining a certain degree of professionalism. When it comes to your qualifications, you can list any additional licenses or certifications you have acquired, along with your education.
Precision is Key
As an engineer, you already know that precision is the name of the game, and the same goes for your resume. When crafting your resume, take your time and check very carefully for spelling and grammar errors. This goes without saying, but it can sometimes be difficult to spot silly mistakes when you’re checking your own work. A good tactic is to step away from your resume for some time and go back to it later. This will allow you to view your work with a fresh perspective and with a little less familiarity, thus making it easier to eyeball any mistakes you might have made.
Along with this sort of precision, we also want to make sure we’re not including any superfluous details. When drafting your resume, try to imagine that you’re the hiring manager—which details would be important to them? Which details are unnecessary or otherwise distracting? With these questions in mind, take a look at the job listing and make any adjustments to your resume that you feel will help it more closely align with the details provided in the listing. A common problem with engineering resumes is that they provide more information than is necessary, so do your best to be concise when listing your experience and skills.
When listing your accomplishments, use bullet points so your resume is easier to read. More often than not, a hiring manager will decide whether or not to continue reviewing an applicant’s resume in less than a minute, and if they can’t pick out any relevant accomplishments quickly, it’s likely that you won’t be considered for the position. Again, it’s important not to go overboard with what you include, which means you’ll likely have to make some minor adjustments to your resume for each job you apply for.
The best types of accomplishments to include are ones that are quantifiable. For example, if you’ve developed or implemented any materials or procedures that led to reduced costs, make sure you include that along with the amount of money that was saved. Another type of example could be the evaluation and re-organization of resources in order to optimize workflow by [insert percentage here]. The point is to provide tangible examples that can be proven with a numerical value, this way the hiring manager has a real understanding of what you can bring to the table.
A Project List
Naturally, you’ll need to include any projects you’ve worked on. The trick here is to keep your resume as short and concise as possible, as engineering resumes have the tendency to be overwrought. In the event your resume is getting a bit too long, consider including a separate project list. This is especially helpful if you’ve got several years of experience under your belt and you’ve worked on numerous projects.
A good rule of thumb is your resume shouldn’t be more than two pages. In most cases, you should be able to list your summary of qualifications, and your experience, skills, accomplishments, projects, and any professional affiliations within two pages; however, if you absolutely cannot find anything else to exclude and you’re hitting critical mass, then a separate project list is the way to go. On your project list, include each employer or client, and a short description of their related tasks and outcomes.
To sum it all up, lead with a strong summary of qualifications. This will capture the attention of the hiring manager, greatly increasing the chances that they’ll continue to review your resume. Mix in some quantifiable examples of your accomplishments along with your experience, and edit your resume meticulously. Keep it strong, but brief—envision yourself as the hiring manager and eliminate any unnecessary information. With these things in mind, you’ll be able to craft an effective resume that will make your candidacy more attractive to potential employers.