Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC
One of the most key
elements of success in a job search is the resume and the
engineering resume can often be one of the more difficult
documents to develop. The engineering resume is the engineering
job seeker’s primary marketing document that sells the product –
the skills and experience of the engineer. To be effective, an
engineering resume must grab the attention of the reader in
35-45 seconds. A good engineering resume will extend that
attention span to over a minute. A successful resume will prompt
the reader to contact the job seeker. In effect, the success of
the job search revolves around the effectiveness of the first
step – the resume.
No one knows your background and
experience better than you. Most engineers can get the basics of
their projects and experience down on paper in a sensible fashion.
What most engineers who write their own resumes have difficulty
with is making that sell to the reader. Here are six tips to help
you make your engineering resume sell.
1. Select the best organizational
format. Most resumes are written in
chronological (reverse time order) format, but that does not mean
that the chronological choice is best for you. A combination
format may be best. The combination format is evenly balanced
between skill set description, achievements, and employment
history, with the advantage being that projects can be highlighted
for greater impact.
2. Assume that your resume will be
viewed on a computer screen rather than on a piece of paper.
Most resumes are sent, received, and managed via PC. That does
not mean that the document has to be drab and ugly, visually. Many
engineers who have images or pictures of project work have good
success with creating a CD ROM portfolio of these images.
3. Make absolutely sure your
document is error free. An error in
a resume can often be the killer between two closely matched
candidates. Engineers are expected to be detail-oriented so an
error in the engineering resume reflects badly on possible future
4. Find a balance between wordiness
and lack of detail.
Employers need to see details about your
work history and engineering experience, but they don’t need to
know everything. The fact that you were Den Leader in your Cub
Scout troop is irrelevant. Keep information germane to the goal of
attaining an interview.
5. Think “accomplishments” rather
than “job duties”.
What made you stand out from the crowd? How did you come up with
a way to do things better, more efficiently, or for less cost?
What won honors for you? Information such as this will be what
makes you grab attention and put your engineering resume on the
top of the stack.
6. Keep it positive.
Reason for leaving a job, setbacks, failed initiatives, etc. do
not have a place on an engineering resume. Employers are seeking
people who can contribute, have a positive attitude, are
enthusiastic, and have successfully performed similar job skills
in the past. Concentrate on communicating these issues and avoid
any detracting information.
Remember, resumes do not get jobs –
people get jobs. Resumes get interviews. Most first time job
interviews are conducted via telephone rather than in person as
they used to be. Make sure you are prepared for that telephone
call when it arrives. And make sure you have an engineering resume
that will make the phone ring!