Tips on writing a successful engineering resume
It’s that time of the year again where spring is in full force, the sun is shining, birds are chirping and this year’s college graduates are spreading their wings and sending out resumes. Despite at least four years of schooling and tens of thousands of dollars spent on tuition, it’s unfortunate that their curriculum doesn’t include a resume 101 course or at least require students to attend a seminar on resume writing.
Awkwardly crafted and abysmal resumes aren’t constrained to recent graduates but also reach into the general engineering population. This leaves the perfect opportunity to review some basic tips for handling resumes and establishing an online presence, after all, resumes are no longer limited to simple paper versions.
Tip #1 - Ignore the one page rule
For some reason, since the beginning of time there has been this notion that a resume should only be one page. It should be short and simple and provide very basic information. This is great if the plan is to be a professional job seeker. A single page, in a readable font, provides enough space to put a name, a few companies and education before there is no more room left on the page. It doesn’t provide enough space to really sell or distinguish the applicant from anyone else. Single page resumes are often looked at and quickly discarded because there is nothing on them that really catches attention. Don’t allow this outdated rule to dictate the length of a resume.
Tip #2 - Explicitly show experience
A potential employer is not going to take the time to read between the lines as to whether an individual has a certain type of experience or skill. Experience needs to be explicitly declared and not implied. This can be done by listing each project that was performed at a company and then providing details as to what was involved. Demonstration of problem identification and the ability to come up with a solution is critical.
Tip #3 - Use bullet points to improve readability
Instead of writing paragraphs about the work performed at a company or on a project, the use of bullet points is highly recommended because they can drastically improve the readability of a resume. Bullet points are a quick way to break down skills and efforts that were put into a project. They allow the potential employer to quickly skim through and catch the highlights or experience. Figure 1 shows an example of how sentence structure can be combined with bullet points to effectively get the point across. This is something that someone adhering to the one page rule would never be able to do.
Figure 1. An example of using bullet points