One of the most common questions I get from job seeking engineers is:
“What is the best format for an engineering resume?”
There are plenty of sources out there that will tell you that you need a functional resume with project accomplishments. Or a “skills first” resume with limited focus on your employment history. In general neither of these is correct.
After years of writing resumes and evaluating hundreds of engineers for jobs I can tell you the two most important things in your resume are:
1. Employment History
Imagine I am the prospective employer. As an employer one of the first things I am going to look for is your career history. I want to know of your progress, your evolution along your career path and your ability to stay in the same place for a while. Gaps in employment or constant job changes are major red flags unless clearly explainable. So a career history is very important in your resume. It showcases your career progression and tells the employer a lot about you. You should take advantage of the career history to highlight your accomplishments and crucial skills, especially as they relate to the position I am looking to fill. More on that in future posts…
2. Strong Opening
Another “must have” in your resume is a strong opening statement of skills and capability. You need to tell me immediately who you are and what you can do. As an employer, when I am looking for an engineer I need a skilled professional to fill a need. The closer you get to convincing me you fill my need the more likely you are to get an interview call. So open with a strong summary and tell me immediately what you can do for me. This can take the form of a summary or a professional profile. What is crucial is that within 15 seconds of reading your engineering resume I need to have a picture of what you can do. This takes place in the initial section which is the most important of all.
So in summary…
“What is the best format for my engineering resume?”
Open strong, tell the hiring manager what you can do for him/her in 15 seconds and then impress him/her with your employment history while focusing on accomplishments.
If either the intro or the job history is weak, then strengthen the other part. If both are weak, your resume is not going to lead to an interview call so make sure you pay careful attention to these two elements of an engineer’s resume. The format is not as relevant as having the two sections above clearly labeled and well written.
Get a head start with our Very Best Engineering Resume Collection, a collection of the best engineering resumes and cover letters. Available to you in a simple download.
If you have any questions about this or any other topics please feel free to contact me directly. Good luck with your search!
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