Engineers have a unique view of the world. From a strict problem-solving STEM background, engineers are trained to look at problems and figure out the best solution. For those of you looking to find an internship, co-op, or full-time, getting your resume noticed by the right people can be a difficult problem. We recommend you don’t simply think of writing a resume, but think of it as building one. In fact, you can engineer your resume to become a powerful marketing tool for yourself!
Demonstrating you’re a great candidate with a single sheet of paper is harder than it looks. Recruiters only have so much time to look over your resume. You need to keep your resume short and sweet. Important skills or experiences can get swept under the rug if your resume has too much information, too much fluff, or poor formatting. Read on for helpful tips and tricks to nail that first impression and communicate your skills effectively on a single page.
No matter the format or discipline of engineering you are currently in, here are the items you MUST include in your resume:
Full name & contact information
Email, phone number, city, state, and portfolio/website link if applicable
Degree-pursuing, institution name, and graduation year
Brief summary that mentions your core competencies, career goals, and achievements
This can be any work experience, engineering related or not
Include the job title, start date-end date, company name, and location
Use the following template to describe your work experience
[Strong verb] + [job duty] + [impact]
Relevant skills that you learned in class or prior experiences
These can be soft skills as well! (Teamwork, cross-functional team collaboration, sales, etc.)
This is a bonus. It's common for students to not have any
Name of certification, the host organization, and the year completed
Filled out a single, 1-page document? That’s a good start, but without proper word use, custom job-specific tailoring, and concise metrics you won’t be getting that call back anytime soon.
Implement the following 4 tips in your resume to put yourself ahead of the competition.
1) Think Precision
Precision is paramount when it comes to being an engineer. The same holds up when talking about an engineering resume. Historically, engineers aren’t known for their creative writing, spelling, or grammar. Failing to proofread and correct simple grammatical or spelling mistakes is more common than one might think. Proofreading your resume is just like calculating a moment of inertia by hand; triple-check it. After triple-checking it yourself, hand it off to a peer to make sure it’s flawless. There is nothing more embarrassing than finding an error after you have applied to 10+ jobs with your resume.
Logging specific dates from experiences, jobs, or projects is also key. Be sure to have them lined up appropriately and include months to showcase the specific amount of time you were working somewhere or on something. Noting how long you have worked a specific job can tell the HR rep or hiring manager information they need quicker than you telling them specifically. It also can tell how much you enjoyed the specific role or project you were working on.
2) Be concise & organized
Precision and attention to detail are both major ingredients to building a resume. However, including too much detail or being too specific can lead to an information overload. Nobody wants to read a novel or even a novella about where you used to work. If your resume is several pages long or includes details unrelated to the job you are applying for, you need to re-think some of the content you have chosen. Having too much information & including un-relevant details will result in the hiring manager not understanding what message you are trying to convey.
The goal is to have a high-quality resume with key experiences that showcase your talents. Some helpful tips are:
Quantify the results
List specific numbers where appropriate to showcase what you achieved. This can add emphasis to certain tasks by providing impressive quantifiable numbers
Example job description: Hired and led a team of 10 direct reports through 5 successful product launches
Make it easy to read
It may be tempting to use bigger words or complex sentences to make you stand out. However, doing so will just make it harder for everyone to read. Keep it simple and to the point.
Tell a story. Think of your resume as a storyboard showcasing your professional life. You should be able to walk anyone through it in a concise and organized manner.
Quality over quantity
It is IMPOSSIBLE to list everything you have done in your life. Having quality entries is worth far more than squeezing in every last detail about your life. Be sure to pick and choose the right experiences that demonstrate who you are and why you are qualified.
3) Tailor the resume to the job opportunity
Adding personal touches to your resume every time you send it out can make a world of a difference. If it’s obvious you have mass-posted or mass applied with the same resume the hiring manager will most likely be able to tell and think you are not interested in the position as the other candidates.
Customize each resume you send to the specific role and engineering specialty you are targeting. If you see a Monster ad for a project engineer, for example, bring all of your project management experience to the forefront on your resume. A slight edit to your resume will go further than you think!
4) Personal projects & unique experiences
What is that special sauce that sets you apart from your peers? What are you doing outside of school that your peers might not be doing? Engineers are known for building just about everything we use in the modern world of today. Try to set yourself apart by building something that interests you or joining a new club/organization. Whatever it might be, make sure you are passionate about it. If it isn’t fun or exciting for you, then why pursue it?
Everyone goes through the same courses & projects so be aware of what school projects you are putting on your resume as they are often common and seen by many local recruiters. Be creative, get technical, and swing for the fences!
Resumes are taxing and can take weeks if not months to finalize. There is no way around creating your own, so just take it one step at a time. Don’t be afraid to ask your peers and professors for a quick review. That's what they're there for - use your resources!
Find and apply to our current engineering pre-internship programs here →