When foraying into the job market, a strategically planned and well-crafted professional resume is the most powerful marketing weapon in an applicant’s arsenal. Awareness about this fact is the first correct step towards a job meant for you.
Despite a wide array of specialised skills under their belt, many engineers tend to pitch and sell themselves short. Not only that, an engineering resume is slightly difficult to pull off as engineering jobs are technical in nature, and people screening these resumes are usually from non-technical backgrounds, due to which a levelling ground needs to be created.
Here are some tips on how to write a resume to boost your job search:
1. Tailor Your Resume Template To Fit Job Description
On an average, it takes a hiring manager less than 10 seconds to ascertain from a resume whether an applicant could make the cut. Therefore, it becomes vital to prioritise and tailor information, skills, and experiences in accordance with the job description. Applicants shouldn’t go overboard by dumping information that’s irrelevant for the advertised job. Your resume should be optimally designed for the hiring manager to extract most about your professional experiences-as quickly as possible.
Each job requirement has certain specifications in terms of the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) required. Hence, a ‘master resume’, which has all the basic essentials needs to be reviewed and modified in light of the particular specifications contained in the job description.
For instance, if a particular job requires proficiency in Java, it’s wise to mention and highlight all work experiences involving the programming language. Including experiences that do not have strong synergies with the job being applied for, leads to unnecessary consumption of resume space without any corresponding payoff.
2. Technical Skills For Resume Enhancement
For an engineer, technical skills are his/her selling point. Not only should these skills be categorically mentioned, but suitable projects, internships, and freelancing assignments need to be tied to these skills as concrete evidence. Further, skills should be matched to their business application and translated in terms that convey the applicant`s business prowess to the hiring panel. Technical skills are of little use unless they can be used to deliver business outcomes, and if applicants can successfully exhibit their business acumen, they outshine other candidates.
However, for the mere purpose of enhancing a resume, a candidate must not fib about his technical skills. If, for example, the applicant only has a theoretical overview or an elementary understanding of a computer language, but no expertise to back it up with, then this can be classified under ‘Additional Information or Interests’.
According to Jennifer Bensusen, the Technology Lead and Senior Recruitment Partner at national recruiting firm Decision Toolbox, applicants must refrain from using vague words like ‘dabbled’ for technologies and languages they know very little about. So a bullet like, “dabbled in HTML for website designing during the internship, along with other main job activities,” is a total no-no until or unless the candidate is a master with HTML techniques and can effectively add value to the employer. A word like ‘expert’ seems overstretched for a fresh graduate, and can invariably invite a slew of difficult questions during the interview.
3. Use Action-Oriented Bullets
An engineer is expected to deliver tangible results after an objective assessment of the problem at hand. Beginning resume bullets with positive action verbs like ‘Achieved’, ‘Optimised, ‘Implemented, etc. reinforces the skill sets mentioned. While preparing bullets, careful emphasis must be paid to the flow; what was done, how it was done, and what the outcome was, while considering the objective for performing the task.
For example, Implemented Lean Six Sigma at the factory floor, coordinating operations with 5 Product Teams; led to a cost reduction of 20% and an enhanced product quality of 22%.
4. Go Easy On Industry Jargon
Using industry jargon without adding the context of professional and academic backgrounds in most cases, impairs a candidate’s chances at scoring an interview, and doesn’t really spruce up the resume either, as most candidates believe.
Most resumes are initially screened by HR professionals before they are routed to a senior engineer. A resume peppered erratically with mere names of engineering terminologies such as ECMs (Energy Conservation Measures), OS&Y Valve can become too overwhelming and may end up getting rejected.
That is not to say that terminologies must be outrightly ignored. Terminologies are essential tools to demonstrate accomplishments and expertise in a resume. However, ensure that you are not merely stating abbreviations but expanding the same to denote the business implications of a technology.
For example, instead of directly writing ECMs, the full terminology, Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) should be included. You can include the abbreviation in a parenthesis to account for industry familiarity.
Most organisations, these days take the aid of the Application Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen relevant candidate profiles. The ATS relies on bots for scanning resumes for particular keywords. Your resume must be ready to pass through the technical checks in-built within the ATS. Therefore it is significantly useful to include job-specific keywords as long as the information is authentic and is accompanied by sufficient context and examples of specific experiences.
5. Projects And Certifications Must Be Explicitly Mentioned
To understand an applicant’s core strengths, abilities and interest areas, an employer requires something even more tangible than his/her course subjects and grades. Entering projects such as a course credit project, an internship project, or a capstone project, aids hiring managers in gauging the robustness of knowledge an applicant possesses. However, ensure that the inherent skills and knowledge pertaining to these projects promote your candidature for the job being applied for.
You may provide a separate project list along with the resume in case you want to supplement your resume with detailed project information. In addition, project outcomes should be concisely stated, both quantitatively and qualitatively wherever possible.
For example, Collaborated with the Product Management team in implementing product lifecycle methodologies of Agile and Waterfall, reducing overhead costs by 25%; deployed configuration system changes, collaborating with 2 cross-functional business teams
Professional certifications and affiliations to professional networks bolster an applicant’s chances. Certificates like Salesforce.com Certified Developer, Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer – RHCJD, or those from Oracle, Microsoft, etc., prove to be of tremendous value to a developer.
6. Extracurriculars Are Equally Important
Successful engineers need to be adept at micromanaging and multitasking, skills which can be built by indulging in extracurricular activities. In fact, Elon Musk claimed that he ‘nano-manages’ his projects and is a hands-on boss.
John C. Robak, Executive VP and COO of Greenley and Hansen, a Chicago-based civil and environmental engineering consulting firm, maintains that they look keenly towards candidates with enriching experiences in college-level extracurriculars, especially when hiring fresh graduates. Being part of student engineering groups like Robotics Club, Aeronautics Society, etc. and service projects adds a lot of weight to the profile. These clubs can foster qualities of collaboration and innovation in students while providing them with a platform for tinkering with complicated machinery, and an opportunity to build something innovative. He further adds that a leadership role in these engineering groups further amplifies a candidate’s chances.
Many engineering students refrain from highlighting these extracurricular achievements or find it hard to squeeze them in with a gamut of other academic achievements. However, these activities are on an equal footing as academic achievements and functional skills, and must not be ignored.
7. Add Soft Skills To Enhance Your Resume
Engineers are expected to collaborate with project managers, business analysts, sales executives, etc. on a routine basis to deliver effective business solutions. This requires them to to be a leader, a team player, and a strong communicator.
Any activity or project, whether directly related to the job in question or not, can be leveraged to demonstrate the transferable soft skills of team-work, collaboration, leadership, etc. An experience in organising a college fest, for instance, indicates a strong soft skill set.
By uploading your resume on VMock SMART Resume Platform you can obtain further guidance on sharpening your resume format and content with the correct soft skills and shoot up its competency and impact.
8. Attention To Detail
Engineers are objective, detail-oriented, and practical professionals-qualities which must be reflected through their resumes as well. A resume riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and overused words raises a red flag. Therefore, before submitting, a candidate must polish his resume to purge it of any such inconsistencies and ideally get it reviewed by mentors, friends, or family. It’s also wise to run it on software like Grammarly to cross-check for grammatical accuracy. Any failure can be inferred as an incompetency, which for hiring managers translates into potential incompetency at work projects.
A hiring panel can judge the efficacy of a software engineer’s skill-sets by studying codes submitted during the application process. These codes are reviewed closely to check for adherence to principles of efficiency and attention to detail. According to Mark Lubarsky, Engineering Manager at Viralheat, a social media intelligence platform, a quick scan of the code or a little whiteboard exercise has the potential to reveal if the candidate writes complicated, redundant codes or is lean, concise and clear in his thinking.
9. Portfolio Of Work
Engineers dealing with design and software would be served well by preparing an online portfolio where they can conveniently display their work. For a design or a manufacturing profile, a strong and well-constructed portfolio of design work helps a candidate gain competitive advantage. Such techniques can be leveraged to demonstrate design engineering skills. Similarly, employers, especially startup founders, have been scouting for coders well-versed with Github.
In a nutshell, there’s no rocket science to building a perfect resume for an entry-level engineer. An ideal resume needs to succinctly demonstrate the candidate’s educational background, skills, and achievements. The bouquet of technical skills he/she possesses must be neatly linked to the potential value that can be brought to the firm. Although an engineer is nothing without his technical skills, his soft skills and business expertise are just as vital in today’s dynamic business environment. Relevant projects and experiences add credibility, and an unpolished resume sends warning signals to the recruiters. Resumes are in essence the strongest mediums to express who you are and why you can be the best at a job. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to prove the same to a recruiter!