How to Write an Engineer Resume That Will Stand Out in 2018

What you need for a winning engineer resume:

Whether you have decades of experience as a network engineer or are an electrical engineer straight out of university, you face the challenge of standing out in a competitive field. Here are the main things you need to get right:

  • Make sure your resume is the right length
  • Ensure it shows you have the specific skills and attributes mentioned in the job posting
  • Write your resume with the recruiter, (HR professional, or whoever will read it) in mind; they are your audience
  • Be sure to include specific metrics wherever possible
  • Try as much as possible to show and not tell about who you are and what you can do

Taken together, these 5 things form the backbone of any great engineer resume. It’s easy to think that experience will get you the job you want, but these points show that how you present that experience matters just as much. After all, the hiring process is a human one, (minute getting through ATS systems the main person you need to make an impression on is the hiring manager, HR person, or other professional who will read your resume. Of course, the best way to learn what works is by seeing successful engineer resumes. We’ve brought together several from our users:

Best Engineering resume examples by users who got hired

How to write an engineer resume

Begin with the job description

We generally start our resumes by thinking about ourselves and our experience. But this puts the focus in the wrong place. Your resume isn’t for you, it’s for the recruiter or hiring manager who will read it. So start by reading the job description and noting all the skills and qualities it mentions they’re looking for. Now, when you create or rework your resume, make sure everything is framed around those skills and qualities and that you always keep the end-reader in mind. Do this well and you’ll leave them saying “wow, this person seems perfect.”

Make it a One-Pager (with exceptions)

You may be tempted to include every detail of every project you’ve ever worked on, but remember this rule. Look at everything you include and ask yourself whether it’s contributing something to your resume. If it’s not contributing, it shouldn’t be there. In general, recruiters are pressed for time and appreciate not being asked to pour over pages of detail in a resume. For most engineers in the early years of their career, one page should be fine.

Use concrete numbers whenever possible

Happily, engineers aren’t as likely to rely on overused buzzwords than other professionals (who will remain unnamed). Still, it’s worth pointing out that the most effective engineer resumes back up as many claims as possible with concrete metrics showing their impact.

Resume Section

Show, don’t tell

Much like with avoiding buzzwords and showing concrete numbers, in general a good engineer resume should show and not tell. So don’t just claim you have the qualities they’re looking for in an applicant, give numbers or examples which show you have them.

Resume Section

Focus on what makes you unique

It’s a hard reality that not everyone who looks over your engineer resume is going to be an engineer themself. That’s why it makes sense to balance what could be quite technical aspects of your resume with more personal ones. This makes you more memorable and can demonstrate things like culture fit far better than metrics can. This could be talking about your hobbies, passions, or describing a day in your life using our My Time section. Sidrah stood out by mentioning the volunteering she does.

Resume Section

10 sections recruiters and hiring managers look for in an engineer resume

While you don’t necessarily need all 10 sections (that would be a bit overwhelming) these are the top sections to consider for an engineer resume.

1. Bio
2. Strengths
3. Experience
4. Your Uniqueness
5. Languages
6. Most proud of
7. Philosophy
8. Projects
9. Contact information
10. Education

1. Your Bio

This is one of the simplest ways to make an engineer resume more effective. A simple sentence describing who you are and (possibly) what your goal is does wonders for setting the overall message of your resume from the beginning.

Resume Section

2. Your Strengths

This is where you’ll want to put that “show, don’t tell” mantra into action. Explain what your strengths are, but make sure each is accompanied with a concrete example. So don’t just say you’re great at managing people, demonstrate it.

Resume Section

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3. Experience

Clearly this section is at the core of all but the most junior engineering graduates’ resumes. This is where you need to apply all of the lessons mentioned above: think about the person reading your resume, use metrics, make sure you’re showing the skills and attributes mentioned in the job spec, etc. All that is to say, two people with identical engineering experience can have wildly different experience sections. So this is a place to have a big impact.

Resume Section

4. Your Uniqueness

There are obviously plenty of ways to show who you are as a person on a resume, so this is a place to get a bit creative. Network engineer Marcellus Nixon showed his passion and strict personal regime in his “day in my life” section:

Resume Section

5. Your Languages

Being multilingual is about much more than just the languages themselves. It’s about understanding different cultures and perspectives, as well as increasing your cognitive abilities. It’s no wonder speaking more languages makes it more likely you’ll get hired. That’s why it’s worth mentioning, even on an engineer resume.

Resume Section

6. What you’re most proud of

This is perhaps the best section to really stand out and show who you are and what’s important to you. You can share a story about overcoming hardship, learning a life-changing lesson, or triumphing over an engineering challenge. In any case, this is the place to put something that will make the reader really remember who you are as a person and an engineering professional.

Resume Section

7. Your philosophy

What’s your approach to engineering? Where do you stand on how projects should be run, how engineers and management should interact, or just on how life should be lived? This is a place to include a short sentence or two which can really show an employer that you’ll fit into their work culture and that you share their values.

Resume Section

8. Your projects

It’s your choice how to balance this but a projects section is a great place to show work you did in university, as a side project, on your own, or just anything that won’t fit neatly into your experience section.

Resume Section

9. Your contact information

Yes, you’re probably thinking this is too obvious to mention, but plenty of people get do this wrong. Your contact information is worth carefully considering with the recruiter in mind. What message are you sending, how would you like to be contacted? Just make sure the recruiter can get in touch with you as easily as possible.

10. Your education

Some professionals can get away without really mentioning their education, but engineers are not among them. You need to mention not just where you went to school but your technical qualifications. If you have some qualification which isn’t required for the position you’re applying for, you can choose whether to include it. But in general, this is an essential section for any engineer resume.

Resume Section

How to get a referral on LinkedIn for the engineer role you want

There are few things you can do to improve your chances of getting hired more than getting referred to a position. Referred employees are hired 60% of the time compared to the 2% of regular applicants who typically get interviewed. This is an area where it’s worth investing some time.
Even if you don’t think you know anyone in a company you’d like to work for, your 2nd degree contacts just might. So start with LinkedIn and try to attending industry events and meetups to establish a better network. Even if you might not be able to develop one in time for this next job, those networks will be invaluable in the future.
Check out our complete guide to getting job referrals for more actionable tips.

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