Six Resume-Building Tips for Entry-Level Engineers

Considerations for setting yourself apart as you pursue your next gig in the engineering field

6 June 2017

The field of engineering comprises the number one entry-level job, according to a recent study by WalletHub. This is certainly welcome news to those entering the workforce with an engineering degree. The availability of immediate opportunities—combined with excellent starting salaries and growth potential—makes engineering a wise career choice.

The future for engineers appears bright as well: The number of related jobs in the United States grew 0.1 percent in March from February to almost 2.6 million, according to the TechServe Alliance, an association of IT and engineering staffing companies. Further, the year-over-year increase was greater than 1 percent for the first time in two years.

However, while many excellent engineering jobs are available, plenty of qualified candidates are looking for positions as well. A thoughtfully written résumé should be enticing enough to land an interview as well as be a point of reference during the conversation. In addition, it’s a physical reminder to the interviewer of your credentials and, hopefully, of your personality after you have left the building. Your résumé should be tailored every time it’s submitted, showcasing your experiences and the skills most relevant for that particular position.

Here are six tips for creating the best résumé  for your first engineering job.

#1 Avoid Overuse of Industry Jargon

Using acronyms and engineering terms doesn’t make you sound smarter. Your course load and extracurricular activities will, however.

The first stop your résumé will make is likely at human resources, not with another engineer. To get the attention of that human resources expert, write your cover letter in a manner that everyone understands. Some engineering jargon in your résumé can show your level of understanding, but be sure to showcase your accomplishments rather than your knowledge of insider terminology.

#2 Demonstrate You Are a Team Player

Engineers often work on teams. Employers want to know that you can work with other people, express your ideas clearly, listen to others, and collaborate. Therefore, include any experience you have in being a part of a team, especially if you were a leader. Summer jobs, volunteer work, and personal projects that received public recognition are perfect for this purpose. It’s acceptable to include work experience and other activities that aren’t directly related to the position you’re looking at because soft skills—such as team building, communication, and delegating—are transferrable. Start each description with an action verb, and do not use first person or pronouns. Include what you did, how you did it, and why, while remaining focused on the results.

Here's an example; note the jargon is in parenthesis:

            Mechanical Engineer Intern, Big Sky Infrastructure, Columbus, Ohio.

            Focused on energy conservation measures (ECMs). Conducted feasibility studies (FS) and developed cost estimations with 20 percent return on investment (ROI).

#3 Name-Dropping Is OK

Did you study under an engineer who works or used to work for the company you’re applying to?  If so, definitely mention that person in the description of the jobs you’ve performed or classes you’ve taken. If you did poorly in the class, however, you may want to omit that information.

#4 Include a Section on Relevant Academic Projects

Because you’ve just graduated, you will have more experience in school than in the workplace. Employers are interested in your courses to understand certain skills that you acquired through your coursework, and to learn whether you have concentrated in an area of interest, such as energy, or business.

For example:


Spring 2017

  • Collaborated with a team of four peers to design a reconfigurable thermal modeling environment for testing and validation of building controls algorithms.

#5 Leave High School Behind

You should have a wealth of college experiences from which to draw by the time graduation rolls around. Unless directly related to the position you are seeking, remove your high school experiences. One particular exception is when applying to an organization where alumni from your school work. In such a case, include the high school name, location, and your graduation date at the bottom of the résumé.

#6 Consider Including a Career Objective

In some cases, applicants find that including a career objective section helps organize each résumé they send out. Remember, it’s fine to craft and send individual, personalized résumés. An objective can be helpful for résumés that showcase work that may not be clearly aligned with your career goals. Or simply include your objective in your cover letter, which should always be customized. Be careful not to sound grandiose in the objective. Convey the information about the type of position you are seeking, but don't be too specific as that may limit your options.

Don't forget to have someone—a friend, teacher, or parent—review your résumé. It’s a good way to find typographical or spelling errors, as well as to clarify an unclear entry. Then, with your new diploma and finely-tuned résumé, you'll be ready to apply to engineering positions, get a great job, and begin your new career.

Content sponsored by Digi-Key Electronics

This article is part of our December 2017 special issue on young professionals.

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