Whatever your engineering focus, you will need to put together a CV to help you secure that perfect graduate engineering job. Typically, engineers need to show a mixture of skills, such as technical skills, soft skills and communication skills, on their CV. Communicating this in just two pages is not as easy as it sounds. For your CV to be successful, it will need to be concise and clear, don’t make a potential employer or recruiter work too hard to find the information they need.
CV format for engineers
Laying out your CV in a way that presents the information in an accessible, easy-to-read format is important. Stay away from big blocks of text and lay it out in sections, such as:
- Contact details – ensure you include your email address, phone number and a link to your LinkedIn page. At STEM Graduates, we have seen many CVs that lack contact details, if we have no way of getting in touch with you, we cannot offer an interview
- Personal statement – a personal statement is a short paragraph at the top of the page that outlines your areas of expertise, skills and career goals. Ensure you tweak this for each job you are applying for
- Technical skills and qualifications – highlight the technical skills and qualifications (outside of your degree) you have that are relevant to the role you are applying for
- Education – ensure you add the achieved grades for your degree, A-Levels or B-Tech or any other educational attainment you have. Also, include a short sentence about your dissertation – especially if it’s relevant to the role you are applying for
- Relevant work experience – ensure you highlight any relevant work experience you have done, whether that is a year in industry, summer jobs or internships
- Other work experience (optional) – if you have had other commercial work experience it is worth adding this too. There may be many transferable skills that you may be able to highlight
- Skills – this section is for other skills that you may have, that are not directly related to engineering. For example, leadership skills, languages you may speak or awards you may have won
- Extra-curricular activities/ leadership positions (optional) – if you have taken part in any extra-curricular activities, even if they are not directly related to engineering, add them to this section. Most employers are not just interested in your qualifications, they also want to see who you are as a person
- Interests – in this section list your hobbies and interests. If possible, try and bring this back to the job description. If you play for a sports team for example, you can use this to show how you are a team player or if you are a trail runner you can demonstrate how you enjoy a challenge by how you have trained for races.
There is not a set way to lay out a CV; you can change things around if you think that it flows better or if, in the application instructions, the employer has asked to have it set out in a certain way.
Prove your skills and experience
It is not enough to list your skills; you will need to prove how you have used these skills either during your education, in extra-curricular activities or in the workplace. Employers do not expect graduates to have lots of experience – what they are generally looking for is the potential you show, based on the skills and qualifications you have gained.
When it comes to the technical skills section, make sure you include any software packages or platforms and systems you have used that are relevant to the job. You may have used several different types of software to complete your university work or in a work placement.
If you did a year in industry, a summer placement or had a relevant part-time job, highlight what you did and use it to show that you do have the skills you say you have. For example, if you have stated on your CV that you have used a certain type of CAD software while on your year in industry placement, explain the context of where, when and how it was used.
If your work experience is limited, you can use your extra-curricular activities and hobbies to flesh out your CV. For example, if you were a member of a society at university and had a leadership role, use this to demonstrate soft skills, such as leadership skills, organisation skills and communication skills. However, you will need to back them up, for example, if you organised social events, state some of the tasks involved, such as using a spreadsheet to track finances and communicating with the other society members, venues and suppliers.
Check for mistakes
One of the most common reasons that a CV is rejected is due to poor grammar and spelling. So, once you have written your CV, ask someone to read over it and make sure you check it three or four times before sending it off. Typical mistakes to look out for include:
- Spelling mistakes
- Grammatical errors
- Colloquial language
- Consistent writing style (e.g keep to either first or third person - do not mix the two)
- Consistent capitalisations (e.g if you have used bullet points, either capitalise the first letter in each one or keep them all lower case and check that names of places and software are set out in the right way, for example, AutoCAD not Auto CAD).
Top tips from a recruiter
Engineering is a diverse industry; as a specialist STEM recruiter, we have seen thousands of engineering CVs, so to help you along we have devised five universal tips that should help any engineering graduate build a winning CV:
- Within your education section, detail any group or individual projects and give a very brief summary of your dissertation
- Add any relevant modules you have studied
- Always put your degree grade and any higher education grades achieved (HND, A-levels etc.)
- Detail any commercial experience, even if not directly relevant to engineering
- Detail any aspects of engineering you have studied or practised in your spare time.
If you are looking for your first role in engineering, then upload your CV to STEM Graduates today.
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