As an engineer, you’re used to working within tight tolerances, but have you considered how that applies to your resume? When you send in a resume, it has about 30 seconds to make a positive, lasting impression on a hiring director. Within that time, it has to communicate who you are, what you’ve learned, where you’ve been, and how you can benefit your prospective employer. It’s a tall order, but with these upgrades, you can fine-tune your resume for better performance.
The person who’s making hiring decisions might receive dozens or even hundreds of resumes for a single position. If you don’t think comma splices and letter transpositions count against you, think again. With that much competition, you need to be flawless on the fundamentals of grammar and composition. Leaving in errors looks sloppy and suggests you aren’t meticulous – not a statement you want to make about yourself as an engineer. Automated grammar checkers don’t catch everything, so take your resume to someone whose grammar and spelling skills you trust for proofreading before you send it.
Looks Matter Too
The layout of your resume makes a difference in how much attention it receives from prospective employers. Bullet lists, orderly paragraphs, and parallel structure throughout the document create a neatly organized resume that lets readers see highlights at a glance. If you have years of experience and find your lists getting unwieldy, create a separate project list as part of your resume. A two-column list detailing projects on one side and outcomes on the other organizes a lengthy resume in a reader-friendly format.
Make It Concise
Your resume is the sum of your experience, so many applicants mistakenly think more is better. From a hiring director’s standpoint, a four-page resume has at least twice as many pages as it needs to get across the essence of this candidate’s qualifications. Edit out extraneous information to tighten your resume and put the focus where you want it – on the qualifications that truly matter.
Include a Summary
Objectives at the top of resumes are old-fashioned space-takers, say many hiring directors. Your objective is already clear: You’re applying because you’re interested in the job opening. Instead, summarize your qualifications, educational background, and best characteristics at the top of your resume. A summary does for your resume what the blurb on the back of a novel does for it, intriguing readers and convincing them they want to read on and learn more.
Custom-Fit Your Resume
Because no two positions or employers are the same, the same resume shouldn’t go out to multiple organizations. Leave batch mailings to your competitors and make your resume fit what employers want. Tailor your resume to the people who will read it by writing a new summary for each, rearranging your experience and education to highlight what a specific position requires, and writing a customized cover sheet.
A resume is for you to put your best foot forward, not to use someone else’s foot altogether. Deception on a resume may not be uncovered at first, but it does come out eventually, often with dire results. By resisting the temptation to embellish that some candidates feel, your own honest but compelling presentation will shine.