Keys to a Successful Engineering Resume

Did you know you can engineer your resume to be a powerful marketing tool? While engineering jobs can encompass a wide range of different specialties (mechanical, reservoir, nuclear, electrical, software, etc.), there are effective resume strategies applicable across disciplines. Here are seven key tips (culled from the minds of recruiters and hiring managers alike) to keep in mind when crafting your engineering resume.

Tip #1: Think Precision

Precision is paramount when it comes to engineering projects, and the same holds true for engineering resumes. Failing to proofread and correct all errors on the resume is a common mistake engineers make. It’s imperative that you have a well-prepared, professional resume with no spelling or grammatical errors. Triple-check it and have other people go over it as well to make sure it’s perfect.

Tip #2: Be Concise

There is a tendency among engineers to go into information overload on their resumes. However, resumes often get accepted or rejected in 30 seconds or less, so you must be concise.

You should create a resume that is crisp and to the point. Scrutinize your resume with an editor’s eye — just because you think the information is relevant doesn’t mean the hiring manager will.

Tip #3: Add a Project List

Depending on your engineering specialty and years of experience, you may find a dozen or more key projects should be included on your resume. When this causes your document to overflow onto a third page, a separate project list sheet is an effective solution. List projects by employer or client, and give a short — even one-sentence — description of what you did. Most importantly, don’t forget to include your project outcomes.

Tip #4: If recent project experience is lacking, use a DIY project

Sometimes inexplicable things happen and an experienced engineer finds themselves on the unemployment list for a while. These employment gaps can result in an employer having a hard time justifying even taking the time to talk with the candidate. This is why these gaps should be filled with learning experiences from do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Create something and go through the design process of gathering requirements, block diagramming and prototyping and put that experience and maybe even some lessons learned on the resume! This will show the prospective employer that the individual is self-motivated, passionate and a number of other things. The best part is that when they call for an interview, the candidate can bring what was designed and talk about the process, the hardware design, the software etc. It might just give that edge needed to even beat out the competition.

Tip #5: List Key Accomplishments

Use bullet points to make your resume easier to read. When writing bulleted accomplishments, keep the text to a few key points and quantify the results so employers understand the significance of your work. Here are a few examples:

  • Conducted process mapping studies to improve throughput by 36% and ensure compliance with customer specifications.
  • Regarded as one of consulting firm’s most highly requested mechanical engineers, maintaining 89% or higher billable utilization for the past 4 years.
  • Co-developed material for cooling radiators that saved $300K/year.

Tip #6: List Useful Skills

Forcing an employer to read between the lines is a dangerous game. Listing project details is one thing but an employer also wants to know in general the types of skills the candidate has. Having a technical expertise section that lists various items such as hardware, software and programming language and provide a quick overview summary of what an individual brings to the table can be very beneficial.

Tip #7: Review and Update Quarterly

The worst time to update a resume is when an individual is looking for a job. Going for long periods of time without updates usually results in gaps of information or misrepresentation from just forgetting what was done. That is why it is useful to set a periodic time, whether it is every quarter or twice a year, to sit down and update the resume with new projects, skills, etc. Sometimes employers will include employee resumes in proposals in order to show a potential client that their team has the skills necessary to get the job done. If a resume isn’t kept up to date then the team could quickly look like they are not up-to-date with the latest and greatest techniques and cause the employer to lose business.

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