How to write an engineering CV
As engineering recruiters we're frequently asked, "How should you structure an engineering CV and how should it differ from other CVs?"
The response is always the same...your CV style and format should always mirror the characteristics of your profession.
For example, if you were a graphic designer your CV should have a lot colour and show elements of your creativity and uniqueness. The same concept should be implemented for engineers.
Engineering roles are traditionally very technical, require structure and attention to detail so it is key that your CV reflects these skills. Your engineering CV should have a clear and concise structure that highlights your skills, experience and education.
Be clear and concise
A clearly laid out CV is crucially important in all disciplines but as mentioned, particularly in engineering.
Engineering hiring managers do not have the time to dissect a CV and try to understand it. A CV that is easy to review and understand will immediately have an advantage over other candidates.
Two similar engineering positions with the same title may be looking for very different experience. Tailor your CV! It's important to review every job specification and put the most relevant experience at the top of your responsibilities. A recruiter will be able to help you identify this.
We often see CVs with a photo of the applicant attached. This is unnecessary and irrelevant. It just takes up valuable space on your CV.
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No two applications should be the same
Every job specification is different, therefore, so too should every CV/application.
You need to make your experience and skills as applicable as possible to the employer. Do your research on the company and know their industry, technologies used within the company and if you have experience in these areas, highlight it!
This should be the first thing on your CV and give a brief outline of your job title, skills and personal characteristics, e.g.
“I am an experienced and results-orientated chemical engineer with ten years’ experience within the pharmaceutical industry. I have vast experience leading and implementing continuous improvement projects resulting in savings of €80,000 for the company.”
Keep it to the point and no more than four to five lines and avoiding talking too much about your personality.
With the introduction of modularisation in university, a number of engineering graduates have covered a broad range of subjects. Only subjects and areas of interest should be highlighted on CVs.
For example, most process engineers worth their salt would have a belt of some colour in Six Sigma lean manufacturing, highlighting this skill will express an interest in this sector. Maintenance engineers interested in automation engineering roles should highlight the systems they have experience in Allen Bradley, Siemens, Mitsubishi etc.
Engineering people love professional development. Include all up-to-date courses, even if you are currently completing it e.g. lean Six Sigma, auditor. This shows drive and ambition and can never be underestimated.
Hiring managers love achievements, statistics and results. Worked on a project? What did it involve and what were the results?
By putting this in your CV, it may set you apart from others and may just be the competitive advantage you need against a candidate who just puts a carbon copy of the job specification on their CV.
Keywords recruiters and hiring managers look for on engineering CVs
Be clear about your education, qualifications and knowledge of software systems i.e. Autocad, Solidworks, Inventor, QP, Allen Bradley, Siemens, CNC, Profibus.
These are not only what we use to search through mounds of CVs on databases, but also when both recruiters or hiring managers scan read over printed copies - these are what we're looking for.
Spell check and grammar
Engineers are known for their attention to detail, so bearing this in mind it is unforgivable to have spelling mistakes on your CV. This reflects badly on your application and immediately casts doubts over your abilities.
When detailing your work experience it is vital you do this in a structured manner using bullet points. Each bullet point should be no longer than two lines with no more than 10 bullet points per job. Again you need to highlight your experience that is relevant to the role you are applying to. You need to make yourself as applicable as possible.
The perfect engineering CV displays the applicant's achievements in both current and past positions, the language used on the CV should also mirror the job specification. For example, 'fast-paced environment', 'problem solving', 'energetic'.