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May 25, 2024

10 minutes read

Resume tips for engineers (with real examples)!

From personal experience, and my observations confirmed by Careerbuilder's research, I can say that recruiters are inundated with applications from job seekers. As a result, 39% of HR spend no more than one minute reviewing a single resume, and 19% spend about 30 seconds. To manage this volume, recruiters follow patterns and look for simple mistakes to quickly weed out less qualified candidates. According to statistics published by Glassdoor, on average only 2% of applicants make it to the interview stage for a given position.
 

 

But how to make a resume for an engineer? I read a lot of information about making resumes online, but I did not find any article that said how to correctly make a resume for an engineer.

As a career coach specializing in engineering, I have developed a comprehensive guide to help engineers create effective resumes that work well within years. This guide is valuable for both experienced engineers and students applying for their first job.


Having been on both sides of the table—as an engineer writing a CV in search of my dream job, and as a recruiter interviewing candidates from entry-level to senior engineering positions—I have gathered insights from my experiences and discussions with other recruiters. Here, I present a list of common mistakes job seekers make, followed by actionable tips to make your resume.
 

 

Common mistakes made in engineering resumes 

 

First, a list of typical mistakes that some engineers make.

The first mistake is an inaccurate description of skills

The first mistake most engineers make, and what nearly all write in their articles, is your skills! Ask Google or ChatGPT to list the TOP-10 skills, for example, for a Drilling Engineer. Mostly you will see soft skills like Communication Skills, Negotiation Skills, Project Management, Time Management, and so on. Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you, this is bullshit!


This is the main difference between an engineer's CV and the resume of a sales manager, a banker, and many other professions. Experienced and competent engineers are distinguished by hard skills, not soft skills. I'm not going to argue, and even I always say this, that communication skills are one of the most valuable skills in the modern world, but that's why having this skill is taken for granted, it becomes like a basic skill for any specialist. And just writing communication skills does not strengthen your resume. If you want to show that you have good communication skills, then include accomplishments that demonstrate this. For example, improving global engineering communication, reducing technical response time by 30%, demonstrating effective cross-cultural communication, and delivering tangible project results.

The second mistake is the template of your resume

Now there are a huge number of resume builders and beautiful templates created by designers. I do not dispute, many of them look very nice. But there is one problem, they do not work. I am a Certified Professional Resume Writer and a member of the American Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches and I can say with confidence that no Professional Resume Writer will ever use such resume templates. And when people use a scale to rate their skills in their resume, it looks unprofessional. For example, you use some made-up scale where you determine your skill is 4 out of 5 points or 8 out of 10. Bullshit! Who determined that your skill is exactly 8 out of 10, and not an entry level: 2 or 6. That is, such an assessment of your competencies and skills is nothing more than a story you made up, not reflecting your real level.


By the way, if you want to make a professional engineer's resume, use only working templates, and also get access to thousands of technical skills for hundreds of professions, handpicked by professional engineers, then go to the EngineerNow platform (https://engineernow.org).

The third mistake is photos and different pictures

We are talking about an engineer's resume, not an actor's or a model's, appearance does not matter here, and even the opposite can spoil everything right away. If you do not want to subject your appearance to a subjective assessment by the recruiter, you have the right not to add a photo. For example, when I worked as a manager, I conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewing thousands of resumes and I can honestly say that there were cases when I rejected candidates just by their photo. I am not an expert in reading people by face, but I have read and studied a lot about it. Physiognomy or Face Reading is the practice of assessing a person's character or personality from their outer appearance—especially the face. I can say with confidence that a lot can be said about a person's character just by their photo.

The main purpose of a CV is to demonstrate your value to the company as an employee. No matter how you look at it, a photo in the resume obviously affects of the applicant’s opinion. And if someone wants to see what you look like, now it's easier than ever to find a person on social networks. By the way, speaking of your social networks, check everything carefully for digital dirt, delete any content and photos that the employer may not like. This applies to any mention on online platforms, including Instagram, Facebook.


A LinkedIn account is a good reason to tell more about yourself as a future employee. The same applies to any pictures and logos, remember the simple rule, the resume should have ONLY TEXT so that Applicant Tracking Systems can scan it, the only exception is a QR code. And yes, you do not need to write the word RESUME/CV. I know a few companies that ask candidates to put a photo in the resume, but this is rather the exception to the rule.

The fourth mistake is to write your gender, age, date of birth, address, marital status, number of children, and especially the desired salary level.

In many countries, it is prohibited by law for employers to specify gender, age, nationality, religion, and some other criteria for candidates in job ads, it is considered discrimination. And since employers are prohibited from requesting this, why should we indicate it!? Each of these criteria can negatively affect the selection of your resume.


You can find many articles on the internet that will say the opposite, but here I want to emphasize that the format I am talking about is more oriented towards international companies and working as an expatriate with rotations or moving with the family to another country.


In this case, it doesn't even matter to the employer in which country you currently live, your address, or your marital status. Also, do not mention your desired salary level, everything is decided based on the results of the interview, and also, many employers request payslips from your current job for the last few months and make you a job offer based on that.

The fifth mistake is using one resume for all countries and all vacancies

As for the resume format, when applying for vacancies in different countries, it is necessary to consider that the US Letter format is used in the USA, Canada, and other Central and Northern American countries, while the rest of the world uses A4. These two formats are very similar, but have some size differences. So if you're sending a resume to companies in Europe, Asia, or maybe Arab countries, then convert your resume to A4, but if it's the USA, then use Letter.

Great Engineering Resume Writing Tips

Okay, you already know how not to do it wrong. Now, here are the most recent tips on how to do it right. Follow these guidelines to create a perfect resume that stands out to recruiters.


Bullet points to make your resume great:

  1. Start with the basics: Include contacts (your phone number and email), education, work experience, and list projects you've worked on. Students can list relevant courses, technologies and the key knowledge they've learned. Include relevant awards or honors, if applicable. Keep your resume to one page.
  2. Your engineering resume should highlight your professional skills. Even if you're a student, list the projects you worked on during internships, your role in those projects, and the tools you used.
  3. Include software relevant to the industry: list software you are familiar with. In addition to specialized engineering software such as SCADA, CAD, CGI, Math CAD, and MATLAB, include MS Office applications such as Excel, MS Access, or InfoPath.
  4. Be honest: Only list skills that you can substantiate during an interview. For example, if you mention participating in a project, be prepared to discuss your role and the results.
  5. Tailor your resume to the position: According to CareerBuilder, 60% of hiring managers look for a CV customized to the job description. You don't have to rewrite your entire resume, but remove irrelevant information and emphasize how your skills and experience meet the specific needs of your employment;
  6. Check for spelling or grammatical errors, make sure the CV is written in competent technical English for US, Canada. In some European countries, you must translate your CV into the local language;
  7. Save and share your resume as a PDF. This will ensure that the formatting is as you intended, even if HR opens the document on a different device. Remember, first impressions are important.

If you receive rejections from employers, write or call me. I am a consulting firm that helps people get their dream jobs. I can help you write a resume, cover letter, interview strategy and interview training.

Summary

A CV is not just a sheet of contacts and your track record. It is a recruitment marketing tool you have to sell your skills. Before you submit your resume, evaluate how compelling it is. Answer this question: If you were the hiring manager, would you hire this candidate? Keep it concise, focus on relevant skills, and please only include qualifications that you can verify in the interview. That's it, see you in the next post...
 

 

 

Alex 

Engineer & Career Coach 

CEng MIMechE, CMRP, CPCC, CPRW, CDCS 

 

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