How to write an entry-level engineering CV

Excellent starting salaries, great career development and plenty of immediate opportunities? Engineering is a wise career choice. So, we can totally see why you’re determined to secure your first role as soon as you can.

But if you’re applying straight out of university, you’re up against plenty of other bright and tenacious graduates. Not to mention the candidates who’ve been working in the industry for a number of years.

Thankfully, we’ve got some great tips to help you write an entry-level engineering CV which will stand out to recruiters and land you that all-important interview – no matter how little experience you have!

Facilitate for ease of reading

The structure and format of the document should lead to an engineering CV which:

  • Looks professional and well thought-out
  • Helps readers to navigate to the information they’re looking for
  • Is easy to read and not time-consuming for recruiters

How to achieve this? Firstly, make sure you use a simple, clear font with a neutral colour palette – black will do! Use plenty of bullet-pointed lists and bold any key achievements, qualifications or skills which you’d like to stand out.

Secondly, don’t overwhelm the page with information. While your entry-level engineering CV should be detailed, you need to leave some white space to ensure it’s easy on the reader’s eye.

Lastly, think about the structure before you start writing. Consider building your CV around these headings:

Contact details – Name, e-mail, phone number and location

Personal statement – An introductory paragraph

Work experience – Detail any placements, internships or projects you’ve been involved in

Education – Include dates, governing bodies and outcomes

Interests – Describe any relevant industry interests to showcase your passion

Lead with a strong personal statement

Your personal statement should be punchy and compelling. You’re basically selling yourself and convincing the recruiters who read your CV to continue to the bottom of the document.

The idea is to introduce yourself by summarising your skills, knowledge, education, relevant interests and career goals in one powerful paragraph. This is your chance to compensate for your lack of experience by showcasing your qualifications, the skills you’ve picked up in university and expressing your sheer passion for the industry.

Aim for a paragraph which entices readers without boring them. Do this by writing sharp and snappy sentences, totalling to around 10-15 lines of text

Showcase your education

You might not have much work experience, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got nothing to talk about. You’ve studied hard at University for years on end, picked up loads of skills and been part of tons of academic projects – so shout out about it!

Don’t just note your degree or masters title and grade. Give details about your dissertation, as well as individual modules or assignments you completed. Also make sure to highlight any impressive grades or findings. If any of the modules link well to the position you’re applying to, make these the star of the education section.

Show off your work placements

If you’ve just graduated, it’s unlikely you’ll have any full-time work experience other than your university placements. So, use them to your advantage. Think about what you learnt during your placement. How did you help the business, what did you gain from the experience and what skills did you develop. Work the points which are most relevant to the role you’re applying to into the work experience section of your CV.

Part-time jobs or roles outside of the industry may be worth mentioning too, as long as you can note down transferable skills that would help you in your new role.

Tie in relevant hobbies and interests

If you have any interests or hobbies related to the industry or have attended any industry conferences or events, it could be worth including them in your CV.

However, you should only include interests which allow you to utilize engineering or project management skills, a technical mind, or focus.

For example, you could include model making if you’re applying for an architectural role, or playing an instrument (which requires focus and attention to detail) if you’re seeking a career in civil engineering.

Ready to perfect your entry-level engineering CV?

Hopefully these pointers should give you some food for thought and offer a helpful starting point. Remember, alongside your engineering cover letter, your CV is the first impression the employer will have of you – so make it a good one!

About the author: Andrew Fennel is the founder of StandOut CV; a leading resource centre for CV and job search advice, including engineering CV writing guides.