Whether you’re looking to make a change in your engineering career or not, your resume acts as a wonderful tool of reflection and planning. It’s the perfect time of year to review your professional accomplishments, projects, and new skills and to document them while they’re fresh in your mind. It’s also an opportunity to review where you’re at professionally now and set your goals for what you’d like to accomplish professionally in the next year.
Also, keep in mind that some companies include their engineering teams resumes in proposals to show prospective clients they have the expertise to get the job done. It is a determining factor for engineering firms to win new work, so it’s critical that you keep your information updated.
While updating and/or crafting your engineering resume, consider the following resume writing tips for engineers:
Proofread! Accuracy is critical – Just as accuracy is important when it comes to engineering projects, it’s important when it comes to your resume. If you make a spelling or grammatical error, it is a reflection of you, your work, and what can be expected in the quality of your work. Proofread it several times and enlist the help of friends/family for more sets of eyes. Sometimes there are things hiding in plain sight and because you’re so close to it, you miss it.
Get to the point! – You need to catch the attention of the person reviewing your resume within 30 seconds or less. It’s easy for engineers to give a lot of detail, much more than necessary for the hiring manager. Your resume should speak specifically to the role you are applying for and should market your background accordingly in a clear and concise manner. Consider your audience -- in this case, the hiring manager -- what are they going to want to see? What’s important to them? Once you understand that, then tailor your resume specifically to the engineering opportunity.
Honesty is the best policy – When speaking to what the hiring manager is looking for, never be deceptive or mislead. You want to paint a compelling picture of your background, projects, skills, education and experience, but not at the risk of not being 100% truthful.
LIST key accomplishments – Don’t bury your accomplishments in sentences or paragraphs of text. Use bullet points. Remember, you have 30 seconds or less to catch the attention of the hiring manager.
Add a Project List – An engineering resume should stay to 2 pages or less. Get your vitals on the first one to two pages - your professional experience, technical expertise, key accomplishments, education and specific related project experience. Depending the length of your career and engineering specialty, you may have dozens and dozens of related project experience. In this case, add a project list to supplement your resume. List projects by employer or client and give a concise description of what you did and the project outcome.
If project experience is lacking, use DIY projects to demonstrate learning experiences. Create something and go through the design process from A to Z. This will show the hiring manager your self-motivated and passionate and will also give you something to bring along with you to the interview and show what you did and learned from the project.
Include a technical expertise section – Again, you have 30 seconds or less to grab their attention. Add a technical expertise area so the hiring manager can see at a glance what you bring to the table technically (i.e. hardware, software, systems, languages, etc.).
I hope these resume writing tips for engineers prove helpful as you update or craft a resume to land a new job or simply to keep your resume relevant and current.