How To Make Your Graduate Engineering Resume Stand Out From The Crowd
If you are a current engineering student applying for internships or graduate positions you no doubt have one more thing to stress about – writing the perfect Engineering resume. The Engineering resume is often regarded as one of the most difficult documents to develop. An effectively written resume will get the reader’s attention within the first 20 seconds. However, with such demand for engineering internships and jobs, 20 seconds is often too long to make an impact. You need to ensure that your resume makes an immediate and positive first impression.
5 Tips for Writing an Engineering Resume
With the demand for engineering internships and graduate jobs far greater than the supply of jobs, many firms now use software programs as a way of performing “first round interviews” and eliminating resumes that fail to get noticed. Using selected engineering keywords will ensure that your resume passes the first stage of selection. Depending on the position and criteria, specific programs, skills, subjects and applications can be used.
A clichéd resume can be spotted from a mile away. As an engineering student, you need to ensure that your resume is direct and targeted. As important as it is to show achievement based results, it is as equally important to show intangible skills and achievements such as being a good leader and team player.
Highlighting your achievements and accomplishments is crucial to standing out from your competition. Hiring managers are not interested in irrelevant information such as your hobbies or interests but want to know about your past successful endeavors. Highlight your initiatives and performances and back these statements up with quantified examples.
When you open your resume do you see the red or green lines underneath words or sentences? This is such a major turnoff to a hiring manager and will create an immediate unprofessional first impression. Remember that as a future engineer you need to be detail-orientated and mistake-free. The easiest way to avoid this from occurring is convert your word document into a PDF. Not only will it enhance your professionalism but will also ensure that those ugly looking lines don’t occur!
Make the reader’s life as easy as possible by using an easy to read and professional looking font. Use headings and bullet points to further emphasize key achievements and skills. Don’t forget that your resume is a professional marketing document not an art work.
From my experience as a resume writer working with job seekers there are many misconceptions about resume writing and the job search in general. As much as we hope that every hiring manger sits and studies our resumes every time we submit for a job, this unfortunately just does not happen. When a company posts a job on a major job board, that company can receive in excess of 300-500 resumes. I have once received over 1500 resumes for one particular job within 48 hours! As such, when it comes to writing your resume, it’s important to focus on providing value added content that strictly targets the job you are applying for.
Find below my top 4 Resume Writing Misconceptions:
1) Your resume will be read from start to finish:
When your resume is initially opened for the first time it is more than likely going to be viewed for less than 30 seconds. Including a qualifications profile at the beginning of your resume is a fantastic way of grabbing the reader’s attention. Focus your attention on the skills that you can offer the company as opposed to telling the reader what you are looking for in a job.
2) Any resume template will work:
This is completely wrong. Type into Google “Resume Templates” and you will see that there are literally thousands of templates that you can choose from. Be warned, resume templates have been around for many years. Most templates are old fashioned and nearly most of the templates that you can download online will not be read by “Automated Recruiting Software”, especially if they have boxes and tables. An experienced hiring manger can sniff out a resume template from a mile away and can portray an initial first impression of being lazy and lacking initiative and professionalism.
3) One size fits all approach:
If you’ve applied for multiple jobs using the same resume and have not found success at all, it’s probably because your resume is not standing out because it’s too generic. Target your resume toward every job you apply for. Ensure that when a recruiter or employer reads through your resume that it is written specifically for the position you are applying for. I’m not saying that you need to completely re-write your resume every time you apply for a job, however there are things that you can do to tailor your resume to a specific job so that a hiring manager knows you’ve taken the time to match up your qualifications and the job’s requirements.
4) The more creative the resume looks, the more the resume will stand out:
Remember that your resume is not a piece of artwork – it will never be hung up on the wall or put up on the fridge. The resume has one purpose and that is to get you to interview. Highlighting your name in big pink writing may get the attention of the reader, however will most probably not portray the professional image that is required. Ensure your resume stands out by including key achievements and the value added skills and training that you can bring to the job.
The job market is tough out there, especially for graduates who are competing against thousands of others for the same jobs. The way you construct your resume and cover letter will definitely give you a leg up on the competition, but there are also other ways to improve the content that you include on your resume.
One problem that graduates are typically faced with is the fact that they have little to no work experience. Employers obviously understand this, so they won’t hold this against you, but they also understand that opportunities to gain real-world experiences are available to students all the time. The students who take advantage of these opportunities are usually the ones who will stand out to hiring managers.
Students have access to a variety of resources. They can apply for a number of internships or volunteer positions, most of which are unpaid, and these types of positions are usually easy to find within your school. Internships are designed to not interfere with your school work; they typically occupy only a few hours a week and they do not impact your ability to study or complete your course work. While working for free may not be at the top of your list, you need to realize that it will give you an advantage over your competition and it’s in your best interest to jump at the opportunity.
Just think about it from a hiring manager’s point of view. He or she is deciding between 2 candidates for a position. Both received excellent marks in school and both have beautifully written resumes and cover letters. One, however, used one of his summers to intern for 12 weeks. Looking at these applications strictly from a qualifications point of view, which one do you think has a slight edge over the other?
Sure there are tons of factors that can influence one candidate’s qualifications over another, but your best chance is to always stay ahead of the competition. Experience is never frowned upon.
Ever wonder why your professional resume, for example military resume, is not getting the attention you feel it deserves or you don’t get offered an interview for a position you have all the right qualifications for?
The answer may be as simple as using strategic keywords in your resume!
With the high volume of applications employers receive for each position, more and more companies are using automated resume screening systems to search for keywords including specific skills, experience or software and technology competencies they require of suitable candidates. Even if you do get a human to screen your resume, hiring managers are typically looking for key skills and experiences to quickly set a limited number of applicants apart from the rest of the pile.
When you begin the process of resume writing, in order to ensure that your resume makes it through these keyword screening tactics, you should:
Identify keywords in your industry.
You can do this by exploring job postings in job search engines for your career field and taking note of keywords that frequently pop up. Many employers will search for industry-specific jargon, software and database systems in your resume that they feel a top candidate should have experience with. You may have all the right qualifications an employer is looking for, but if you don’t know how to communicate them in the same way employers want, your chances of an interview drop significantly.
The best place to find the keywords specific employers are looking for is in the actual job opening description. Read the job posting carefully and identify the qualifications/ skills/ competencies listed on that position. Consider this as your “cheat sheet” to getting the position. The employer is spelling out exactly what they want in an ideal candidate. Of course you should never lie about your qualifications or experiences, but by customizing your resume to include the keywords you have that the employer lists on the job posting, you can drastically improve your chances of getting an interview.
Where to include keywords:
Depending on the type of keywords you find in a job posting, which can include desired skills, technological competencies or key experiences, you can add keywords to a “Qualifications Summary” or “Key Skills and Competencies” section at the beginning of your resume. You can also add keywords when you highlight your responsibilities and achievements in past professional experiences.
Examples of keywords:
Examples of keywords in the Manufacturing industry could include: asset management; capacity planning; cell manufacturing; cost reductions; distribution management; outsourcing; materials coordinator; on-time delivery; and shipping and receiving operation.
One of the most asked questions I receive via my blog is about including references in the resume. Questions include:
Should I or shouldn’t I?
If I do decide to include the references where do I put them?
How many references should I include?
And the list goes on and on. It seems that everyone from a recent student or graduate to high flying executive are all asking themselves the same question.
Before we delve into the issue about putting references on the resume, lets first recap the aim of the resume. The resume is a marketing document with the aim of getting you to the interview. Everything that goes on the resume needs to be targeted towards the role you are applying for. In the limited space you have available on your resume you need to ensure that only the most relevant and important information is included. Focus on highlighting your achievements and the value added skills that you can bring to your next job. Remember that a hiring manager may have hundreds of job applications and therefore in order to stand out from the competition, you need to ensure that you provide only relevant and targeted-based information.
Will references help my resume application?
As mentioned above, the aim of the resume is to get you to the interview stage. The hiring manager is going to evaluate your skills and experiences and then decided if you are worth interviewing. It is highly unlikely that a hiring manager will even bother to read your references and if they do it is even more unlikely that they will make a hiring decision based on who your references are. What’s more is that at no stage during the initial selection process is a hiring manager going to contact your references. It just does not make sense. Why would someone contact your references before they have even met you?
Should I include something on the resume to show that I have references?
At the very end of the resume all you need to include on the resume is “References Available Upon Request.” This states to the reader that if they decide to take your application further, you are able to provide them with references upon being requested. These 4 simple words should be the last 4 words you write on your resume. Generally speaking, only once you pass the initial resume screening process and have completed interviews would a hiring manager be interested in speaking with your contacts. Only at this stage would you be required to provide the name and contact details of your references.
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