How to write a CV: A guide for engineers

Engineering is a highly sought after profession, thanks to its impressive pay rates and career progression opportunities. Therefore, if you have the qualifications, you’re already off to a great start. However, at times you’ll be competing with hundreds of others just for one position. So, in order to stand out, you’ll need a great CV.

Everyone’s CV is different and people may offer you advice based on their experience. However, everyone’s circumstance is different. Instead, you need to focus on ensuring your own CV is accurate, relevant and exhibits what you have to offer the company.

Our general advice will help you get started, or further improve your CV and develop your career in engineering.

Balance

Balance is always important when building an engineering CV. Focusing on your practical skills along with any technical skills shows diversity. Combine this with your personal skills and you’re on your way to building a well-balanced CV.

Regardless of which industry, structurally a CV should always be tailored towards the employer. We advise keeping a master copy aside and tailoring each CV before sending it out to the company.

Structure

Ease of navigation is crucial. Avoid having a badly written CV with the right structuring and cut down any chunks of text that could put off potential recruiters. Ensure your CV is easy to read and choose a font such as Arial or Calibri. Not only does this make your CV more modern, it also allows you more space to show why you’re the perfect fit.

Start with a personal statement that summarises your achievements, experience and differentiating skills. This should parallel each job you’re applying for and must always aim to engage the recruiter immediately, encouraging them to read on.

Focus on the chronological format of your CV based on what your strengths are. If you’ve developed any transferable skills throughout your career or extracurricular activities, then make sure you convey this in your CV.

It’s best to always take the occasional keyword from the job description and apply it to your CV. However, always make sure it reads naturally and focuses on why you’re the best candidate for the position.

Skills

Draw upon your work experience, education and interests to demonstrate any transferable skills that will be useful in the role. For example, exams and dissertations require thorough research, excellent written communication and proofreading skills. Playing sport requires focus and often a team based mentality.

These are all transferable skills that you can apply to your engineering career. Alongside this, consider times where you’ve been able to demonstrate your problem solving skills and provide examples of working well under pressure. These are highly sought after attributes in engineering that make you stand out.

Organise this into sections and use headings to help draw attention to relevant skills. Try to use bullet points here – these help break up any lengthy paragraphs.

Evidence

Providing evidence of your knowledge and skills is important because it gives credibility as opposed to making empty claims. For example, rather than just stating you have experience in engineering, include previous projects and any associated engineering institutes. Include your technical skills and any engineering and design software that you may have used, for example AutoCAD or Autodesk Architectural.

Although, don’t fall into the trap of listing everything you’ve ever worked on. Instead, keep it concise and focus on the experience that’s most relevant to the position.

Communication

Engineering, along with most industries, depends on accuracy and attention to detail. Therefore, you should make sure your CV represents your communication skills effectively. If written communication isn’t your strongest asset then refresh on basic punctuation and grammar before drafting up your CV.

You can also ask a friend or family member to proofread your CV before sending it out. Remember that an accurate and professional CV will always reflect positively on you. It needs to be a professional representation of who you are.

Avoid including any private information such as your marital status, salary expectations and religious views. This takes up valuable space and is irrelevant information.

While social links can be useful to include, such as LinkedIn, remember to check your Facebook and Twitter account to avoid recruiters seeing anything that warranted as unprofessional. Novelty email addresses can also be harmful to your career so check yours isn’t potentially discriminating or reflects poorly of you. It’s best to have an address that includes your first name and surname, where possible.

Conclusion

The purpose of your CV is to exhibit what you have to offer. It shows why you’re the perfect fit for the job, prompting a potential employer to bring you in for an interview. In order to achieve this you must demonstrate that you have the specific skills, experience and personal attributes for your target roles.

Engineering employers want to see examples of strong technical skills, relevant project experience and unique personalities. Always remember to cater your engineering CV to demonstrate your commitment to the individual role. It should convince a potential employer that you have what it takes to succeed in their distinctive workplace and meet the recruiter’s needs.

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