Recruiters will receive hundreds of applications for every competitive engineering job, so how can you make sure your CV stands out from the crowd and doesn’t get discarded on the first hurdle?
Whether you are applying for a software engineering or a mechanical engineering role, recruiters will be looking for the same key points; does your technical experience match the job description, will you fit in with the company culture and what differentiates you in particular from the other hundred identical applicants?
With limited space on your CV to make that lasting impression, where do you start?
To ensure your CV makes the cut, we have asked our engineering recruiters for their top advice when it comes to writing the perfect engineering CV. Here is a list of what to prioritise.
1. A clear structure
First things first, recruiters expect an engineering CV to reflect the characteristics of an engineer; it needs to be concise, straight-forward and structured. With that in mind, we would advise against using colour, photos, logos etc.
Start your CV with a couple of lines outlining your current job title, key skills and achievements. This section is designed to get the recruiter’s attention, without going into any detail.
2. Highlight your technical skills
Unsurprisingly, technical skills are the first thing a recruiter will look for when assessing a candidate for an engineering role. Specifically, the recruiter will be checking your education, your work experience as well as your understanding of different programs, systems and software – depending on your speciality. Therefore, any relevant technical information should be at the forefront of your CV.
If you are a recent graduate or intern with little professional technical experience, it is a good idea to focus on the technical skills you have acquired at university. A good way to do this is to list any relevant modules you have studied, and detail the types of projects you have worked on and the different technologies you have learnt to use in each module.
3. Include any relevant professional development
Have you completed any additional training, such as a project management course or a six-sigma belt? Including this kind of detail will help differentiate your application from all the others. Not only does additional training show drive and a desire to learn, it also helps a recruiter understand your broader breadth of skills.
4. Tailor your technical experience
At CK, our recruiters’ number one recommendation would always be to tailor your CV to the job description. No two roles are the same, so neither should your applications.
Do your research on the company, look at the latest projects they have worked on and find out what technologies they use within the company. If you have experience in these areas, mention it clearly in your CV!
Another good tip is to highlight keywords from the job description, and include these in your CV. For instance, if an advert asks for experience in Autocad, the recruiter will be discarding any CVs with no or little mention of it. Instead, show off your experience and use specific examples of when you use Autocad in your day-to-day role, even if it may seem obvious to you.
5. But don’t forget the soft skills
Although your CV should mainly focus on your technical abilities, examples of soft skills should not go a miss.
In this day and age, an engineer is expected to work in a team and to think critically.
Not only that, but nowadays companies are also more determined than ever to hire staff which match their values and company culture. With such an emphasis on staff retention, companies want someone who will be a good fit, technically and personally.
However, applicants shouldn’t just list their soft skills like a shopping list with no context. Rather, examples of soft skills should be woven in with key accomplishments and specific examples, in the work experience section of your CV.
Some key soft skills to include are:
Most engineers will work in a team, where communication skills are essential. Many engineering jobs are information-heavy, and employers want to be assured that their engineering staff can easily communicate and share important information with their team, and in some cases clients.
If you can, use examples of when your communication skills were key to the success of a project.
It’s one thing having the right technical skillset, it’s another knowing when and how to use that skillset, especially in times of crisis.
Every engineer will know that too often projects will encounter issues. Again, employers are looking for staff who can deal with these issues promptly and effectively.
Why not use examples of times you needed to solve a problem, and how you dealt with the situation.
As mentioned above, companies are more and more interested in hiring staff who will fit in with the company dynamics and culture. Therefore, they are on the lookout for candidates who show a positive attitude and will interact with others in a friendly and professional manner.
This is especially important to remember for interviews, but interpersonal soft skills can also be demonstrated in your CV. They can be mentioned, for instance, when detailing examples of teamwork, leadership, responsibility and dependability.
Still struggling to write that perfect engineering CV? At CK our team know exactly what our clients are looking for, so why not send in your CV and get one of our recruiters to give you some recommendations?