to Write Your Resume
The purpose of
a resume is to summarize your qualifications to a prospective employer. A resume
also communicates information about your organizational abilities. The document
displays your skill in organizing information and tests your ability to present
that information in a brief and clear format. You can set yourself apart from
many of your competitors by assembling a well-organized resume.
Follow these guidelines
to write an effective resume:
- Write briefly
An employer will only scan your resume for 30 seconds or less. Make sure that
your strengths and skills will register with the reader during those 30 seconds.
- Do not use
This saves space and makes for faster, easier reading by the employer.
- Use reverse
In any list, show your most recent job, activity, or accomplishment first.
Avoid extraneous date information. Usually, the month and year of
the activity are sufficient.
- Write in
a serious, professional tone.
Avoid using sarcasm, or humor.
Resumes can be
written in different styles and formats. Here are some common components:
- Name, address,
and telephone numbers:
Names are generally written with a middle initial to make the document seem
more formal. Licensed individuals should follow their name with the initials
contact address and telephone number. It is also wise to list an e-mail
address if you have one. Although employers will usually prefer to contact
you by phone, the address will demonstrate that you are connected to the
"information superhighway" and underscore your computer literacy. However,
be sure to check your e-mail every day if you list your e-mail address.
numbers should include area codes. Also include country codes if you are
applying for a job in a foreign country. Most employers will attempt to
contact you during normal business hours, so it is recommended that you
set up an answering machine to take messages if you are not available during
Briefly describe the position for which you are applying.
If you are seeking an entry level position, this section should be listed
immediately after the "Objective" section, since your education is likely
to be more relevant than your work experience.
certificates, majors, and institutions attended. Include your graduation
date, and the institution's city and state. List any awards or honors received.
If you are a recent graduate, you should also list your Grade Point Average
This section should only be used if you are a recent graduate. List the descriptive
course names of upper-division engineering courses that you have taken (i.e.,
list Structural Steel Design & Water Resources Quality, but omit Statics &
Introductory Physics). Generally, you can copy course names from your college's
course catalog, although you should feel free to shorten or alter names to
save space. Avoid listing course numbers, since they are meaningless to employers.
- Work experience:
If you have been in the work force for a while, this section should be listed
immediately after the "Objective" section, since your work experience is more
relevant than your education. List related work, including full-time, part-time,
internships or unpaid work. State your title, the company name, city, and
state. Also, write a brief description of your responsibilities and accomplishments
using "action" verbs (see the table below) to give your statements added impact.
company quality assurance procedures.
2. Updated software to meet new building code requirements.
3. Developed computer software resulting in 30 percent reduction in engineering
4. Approved structural steel shop drawings.
5. Reviewed construction drawings for constructability.
6. Designed sample warehouse in accordance with 1994 Uniform Building Code.
7. Prepared calculations for review by regulatory authorities.
8. Resolved construction difficulties at job site.
You can write
multiple entries for a single company if you held significantly different
positions or levels of responsibility. For example if you were promoted
from a "staff engineer" to a "project manager", each position probably warrants
a separate listing and description.
List job-related licenses such as Engineer-In-Training or Professional
Engineer registrations. If applicable, specify in which state or jurisdiction
you hold your license. Omit license numbers--your employer will ask for
them if needed.
List the title, city, and state of projects in which you have played a substantial
role, and give a brief description of that role. Often job seekers with substantial
work experience attach this as a "stand-alone" second page to their resume.
List job-related skills such as computer and software skills. Be sure to mention
knowledge of non-Windows operating systems such as DOS or UNIX. Many engineering
companies use software that run on these operating systems.
- Other Miscellaneous
These items are generally only listed when a job seeker is trying to fill
space on his resume. They are not essential components of a resume, but
can serve to help you stand out from your competitors:
in organizations, especially if they are in professional engineering societies
or if you hold or held a leadership position.
languages read or spoken.
hobby if it is unique or unusual, but projects a positive image of you.
Especially mention a hobby that somehow relates to engineering.
available upon request" at the very bottom of your resume.
IV. The Document
Use a good quality, heavy, 8.5" x 11" paper. Light-weight paper will cheapen
the effect of your resume. White or off-white paper is safest, but if you wish to use
colored paper, make sure it is tasteful, and that it photocopies well.
- White space:
Use plenty of white space within your resume. Do not overcrowd the resume.
Do not be afraid to play with margins, but make sure that they are not too narrow!
Avoid excessive use of bullets, underlining, italicizing, or bolding.
Entry-level resumes should almost never exceed one page. Resumes for more
experienced job seekers may require more than one page, but should not exeed
two pages. It is usually best to convey the most important information
on the first page and to assume that the second page may not be read.
Select a font that is clean and readable. Avoid using extremely small fonts
or any of the "artistic" fonts that come with modern software.
Use a laser printer to print your resume. Make sure photocopies are without
streaks, blots, or smudges.
V. Final Thoughts
to make their resume stand out from those of their competitors. Make sure that it does
so for the right reasons. Avoid violating these rules:
- Do not send
a photo with your cover letter.
- Do not list
anything related to high school. Your high school achievements became irrelevant
the moment you attended college.
- Make extra
sure that your resume is free of typos. Do not solely rely on spell-check
programs. Have several people review your resume.
- Avoid listing
extraneous numbers. Don't list your student ID number, driver's license number,
green card number, P.E. number, etc.
- Double check
all dates; typos in dates are very common and easy to miss.
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