In order to take the first steps of securing yourself a new position, you must be able to grab the attention of the reader in the first 35-45 seconds. If you are REALLY good, that span will extend beyond one minute. In essence, the success of your engineering job search depends on the effectiveness of your resume.
Engineering resumes can be a more difficult document to develop than a regular resume, especially because engineering jobs are often technical while those doing the hiring are not. Most engineers can get the basics of their past projects and experiences down on paper in a chronological and sensible fashion. However, many of them run into problems when trying to “sell” to the employer. That said, it is important to focus your efforts on what will sell the product (that’s you). And what sells are the skills and experience of you the engineer. It’s all about your pitch.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to create a sparking resume:
Organization of the Resume
Most resumes are written in chronological order. That is the most recent job at the top, followed by the next most recent, and the next after that, etc. But that does not necessarily mean that chronological is the best for you as an engineer. Chronology does not take into account things such as your skills set, achievements, organizational advancement and more. As such, a combination format that balances both these and the chronology of your career might be more appropriate so you can highlight specific projects for a greater impact.
Employers want to see the details of your engineering work history and experience, but they don’t need your life story. Keep information specific to the job and with one goal in mind – getting an interview. That means anything that you have done in past jobs that is not relevant to this job in any way is just filler.
Instead of Duties Why are you the best person for this job? Just because you fulfilled the same functions in a previous position does not make you the best person for the job. Did you revamp company processes, or do things in a more efficient way? Did this generate cost savings, or speed up development time? This sort of information is what will get your resume moved to the top of the pile and keep it out of the trash.
Ok, this goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway. Make sure you have absolutely no errors in your resume. Even if you’ve checked it before, making small edits here and there tend to generate typos. So best recheck the whole thing when making edits. An error in your resume can be the determining factor between you and another candidate, IF you even make it that far. As an engineer you are supposed to be detail oriented. So how poorly does an error reflect on you and your future performance?
We are Moving Towards a Paperless Society
These days, most resume are sent, received and managemed via PC. But that doesn’t mean your resume has to be dull, drab and visually ugly. In fact, you can use this to your advantage to spruce your resume up and include pertinent pictures, images or other documents of project work related to the job your are applying for. You could even make a CD-ROM portfolio.
Focus on the Positives
Inevitably, not everything you have done in the past has been a smashing success. There is no place on an engineering resume for why you left your old job, failed initiatives or anything else that is generally negative in nature. Try to emphasize your enthusiasm for the position, how you can contribute and how you successfully performed similar tasks in the past.
Finally, remember that resumes do not get jobs. People get jobs. Resumes get interviews. Your goal with the resume is to get an interview.