Formatting Maybe's (i.e. use sparingly):
- Bulleted lists - bullets help bring important points to the fore and are easy for the reader to grasp.
- Microsoft Word format
- Ample white space - don't make your resume copy-dense. With plenty of room between sections and wide
margins, your reader's eyes won't be bombarded, which means they're likely to spend more time and glean
- Short descriptive phrases (rather than complete sentences)
- Action words such as responsible, implemented, directed, etc.
- Bold, underline, large fonts
- Acronyms - use only if it's well known (and keep in mind keywords)
- PDF. Word Perfect. HTML. Any other file format other than Word.
- .docx - many people do not have Microsoft Office 2007 yet, so .docx is not recommended for now.
- Plain courier text
- Columns, tables and text boxes
- ALL CAPS
- Fonts over 12
- Headers and footers
- Fancy fonts or more than two fonts (one font is preferable)
- Combined font enhancements (e.g., underlined and bold)
- Over-capitalization. Only capitalize:
o Proper names
o Company and university names
o Section titles
Your Full Name - you may bold your name if you wish; include your middle initial, if applicable. If you area licensed
Professional Engineer, put the P.E. designation behind your name (E.g., John Doe, P.E.)
Mailing Address - optional, but you should at least put the city and state where you live
Phone Number(s) - Specify home, cell, and/or office (if you don't want calls at particular number, don't give it out)
E-mail address - make sure you that use one that doesn't pick up every strange e-mail as spam. It is a good idea
to get a free new e-mail (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) just for the purpose of receiving job opportunities. Just
remember to check it often.
Website - optional and not recommended for conveying your resume
Your Objective should appear at the beginning of your resume and clearly describe, in two or three brief sentences
or 3 or more bullets (this is a good place to get in some of your keywords):
- Your professional specialty, experience, and distinctions.
- What type of engineering position you are seeking.
- Geographic preferences, if any. If you are open to moving anywhere, say it.
If you are open to a wide range of job possibilities, say that, but within what your education and experience says
you are capable of doing. Do not say something so general that you make the reader try to interpret what you are
capable of doing.
Wrong: "Open to any position that my experience qualifies me for"
Wrong: "I am looking to improve my skills and ambition in career of my interest"
Wrong: "Looking for a good job with a company that treats employees well."
Right: "A recent civil engineering graduate who is seeking a full-time position in the field of civil, construction, or
transportation engineering. Presently living in Boston; willing to relocate New York City or Philadelphia.
Right: "Structural Engineer with 15 years experience seeking a position as a project manager or structural
department head in the refining, petrochemical, or oil & gas industry. Presently living in California; would like to
relocate to New Orleans.
Education Section Content
This section should only include major degrees, such as your Bachelors, Masters, etc. Training courses should be
included in the "Professional" section below.
Degree - acronym should only be used if it is universally known (BSCE, BSME, etc.)
Month and Year earned - there should not be a comma in between month and year
School Name - the full official name, not an acronym
Location - city and state (if U.S.); city and country (if non-U.S.)
Experience Section Content
Experience should be in reverse chronological order (most recent engagement first). This section should list each
employment engagement including company name, location (city and state), your title/position, employment dates
(month and year), and a brief description of your duties. It is also necessary to work into the description what the
company does (or did).
Wrong: "Compiled and documented research. Evaluated production equipment due to current set up, and data was
analyzed for written reports and/or recommendations. Tools and sampling equipment were used for data analysis
to determine observation of samples." This is too non-specific. What kind of research? What production equipment?
Right: "Performed structural engineering design on Texas state bridge widening projects. Used GTSTRUDL and
CUGAR software for the analysis."
Right: "Performed design on and managed small capital projects (up to $200,000) in a 200,000 barrel per day oil
refinery, from concept through construction. (Bullet point each project and state what each involved)
Explain any gaps in your work history - be very brief (e.g., took time off to raise a family)
Should include licenses, certifications, training courses, and professional society memberships
This section should include all software you are familiar with. Some people include their proficiency in each
(beginner, intermediate, expert).
- Photos or graphic elements
- I, me or your name in the body of the resume.
- Accomplishments - "I saved the company $8 billion by..." I ignore them (you can make any claim you want -
there's no way to verify it)
- References or the statement "References provided upon request." You will be asked for references at the
* Run spell check and double-check capitalization of proper names, places and terms, such as AutoCAD
* Check spelling and grammar manually. Spell check will not find all errors (e.g., there instead of their).
* If you are not a native English speaker, ask someone who is to check your grammar
* Re-read your resume very carefully and remove every extra word
* Customize your resume to the job you are seeking. Emphasize your experience in one particular area if that is
the position you are seeking.
Before you start writing your resume, you should remember this: A human resources representative or recruiter will
spend less than a minute on your resume before they move on to the next one, so make it easy by highlighting
the important points - objective, education, experience, professional information, and other skills.
Your resume should not be over three pages long. Period.
If you are going to be placing your resume on the Internet, you need to be sure it contains the keywords
necessary for your resume to be found. Some people put a keyword section in their resume, but this is not
recommended. The keywords should flow naturally.
- For key terms that have common abbreviations, use both the abbreviation and the spelled-out term - e.g.,
Graphical User Interface (GUI). That way, anyone searching for the term or the abbreviation will be able to
find your resume.
- For place names, such as states, spell out the name and also use the official abbreviation - e.g., California
Resume Writing Tips for Engineers & Other Technical Professionals
When It's Complete
Negatives to avoid:
- Gaps in your timeline, especially long gaps in employment history. A couple of months is OK (looking for a
job), but anything over 2 months needs to be explained (briefly).
- No months given in employment history or education. Worse yet, no dates at all (yes, some people actually
have resumes with no dates)
- No locations given in employment history.
- Education - no specific degree, university name not given, etc.
- Typos, misspelled words, bad grammar - this is pretty obvious, but you cannot believe how many resumes
we see with any or all of the above
- "Jumpiness" - This isn't just related to a resume, but anyone who cannot hold a job for more than a few
months at a time, regardless of the reason, is looked upon negatively by employers.
- Overly wordy or, conversely, overly brief description of your work history - there is a fine line between too
much and too little explanation of what you have done. If you list every calculation you have ever done,
that's too much. A one sentence summary of 10 years experience is too little. Start with a project list, then
edit it down by combining similar projects together. For example, "performed structural calculations on five
commercial building projects."
- Overly inflated "accomplishments." In fact, our recommendation is to avoid claiming "accomplishments"
- Not necessarily a red flag, but avoid long descriptions of unrelated experience. If you're trying to get an
engineering job, giving a two paragraph explanation of what you did at Wal-Mart is not appropriate.
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