Writing a great engineering CV can be a tough job.
Because of the technical nature of the industry it’s important to showcase your practical skills, but it’s also important to make sure you don’t neglect any relevant transferable skills you may have.
With engineering generating 23% of the UK’s total turnover, it’s predicted that 203,000 people with Level 3+ engineering skills will be needed every year until 2024 to keep up with demand, so it’s important that your CV helps you stand out from the crowd.
Here’s our top tips for writing a great engineering CV.
While you’re not expected to be a graphic designer, creating a well-structured CV will make it easier for recruiters to skim through your skills and experience.
The average time recruiters spend looking at a CV is 5-7 seconds, so it’s important to get the key information at the top.
Including a short professional statement explaining your job title and experience, and a small section that showcases your technical skills, gives you the best chance to get a recruiter to read on in more detail.
It’s important to put the relevant information in the place recruiters will expect it to be.
Standing out is great, but with the most common format for a CV being reverse-chronological, where you list your most recent experience at the top and work backwards, it could be confusing to read if you decide to do something different.
It can be tempting to use boxes to organize the information, but this can quickly become messy and difficult to read. Instead, use headers and subheadings to break up information, but make sure you use an easy-to-read font in a sensible size.
If you’ve only recently graduated, you’ll need to put any relevant experience like internships or placements at the top, and expand more on your education to show you’ve gained the relevant skills while in education.
When you list your skills and experience, it’s important to use examples and numbers to substantiate your claims.
For instance, rather than just writing:
Increased production output.
Instead, put something along the lines of:
Reduced manufacturing errors to increase production output by 12%.
This helps show the recruiter that you’ve got the experience they’re looking for, and shows a deeper level of experience than someone who has just listed a skill straight from the job description.
If you’re a graduate, you can highlight your skills by elaborating on the projects or work experience you’ve completed and tying them to requirements laid out in the job description.
Soft skills are just as important as technical skills.
What’s the point in hiring a talented engineer if they can’t communicate well with the rest of the team, or if they have to be constantly motivated to do even the simplest of tasks?
It’s important to show these transferable skills within your technical expertise, but don’t make the recruiter have to read between the lines to get the information.
Be sure to read through the job description to identify any key soft skills the position is asking for, and be sure to include examples in your work experience.
If the role will involve presenting to a large group, for example, it’s important to highlight an occasion when you did that within a previous position.
As tempting as it is to create one CV to send to every job that’s a close match to your skills, make sure you take the time to tailor each CV.
Take the time to read the job description carefully, and show you have the relevant skills by using examples within your work experience.
No two roles are exactly the same, so make sure you understand what experience they’re looking for within the role, and then use your personal experiences to demonstrate that you have those skills.
Again, don’t make the recruiter read between the lines for this. If the role asks for you to perform work to a specific BSI standard, give an example where you worked to that specific BSI standard.
While it’s tempting to show you know how to do every job you could ever be expected to do in a role, make sure your primary focus is on including the skills they’ve asked for.
The maximum length of a CV should be no more than two pages.
If yours is coming out any longer, then there’s a good chance you’re not being as clear and concise as you could be.
Breaking the text down into bullet points helps to keep your CV from looking like an essay, and will help you to keep it shorter and sweeter.
If you’ve got a number of roles where you performed the same tasks, there’s no need to go into detail for each position - just ensure you explain it in your most recent role.
The key to any CV is relevant experience. You don’t need to go into detail about how you were trusted to lock the office every evening if the role doesn’t ask for it.
This shouldn’t even need to be said, but somehow, we felt we couldn’t quite leave it out.
The worst thing you can do on a CV is lie.
Even if you ended up making your way through the interview and getting the job, eventually your inexperience will be revealed - and in an engineering environment inexperience could be a very dangerous thing.
If you have closely related skills to the ones required, then put that. It’s perfectly acceptable to list a similar skill to demonstrate that you have abilities that may be transferable with the right training.
Again, it should go without saying, but a spelling mistake can kill your chances of getting a role.
If you’ve put on your CV that you have great attention to detail, but it’s littered with spelling mistakes, take a guess at what the recruiters will think…
Make sure you double, triple, and quadruple check your spelling.
You’ll also need to make sure your CV is consistent, that you’ve used the same tense, fonts and writing style throughout.
Give your CV to a friend or partner to read through, as a second pair of eyes can often pick up on subtle mistakes or inconsistencies that you’ve missed.
Nowadays, with most job applications done online, it can be tempting to forego a cover letter, but they’re still an important part of any job application.
While it may not always be necessary to send cover letters to recruitment agencies when you’re submitting a speculative CV, a well-crafted letter can help to expand on your CV and gives you the chance to go into more detail about why you’re the perfect candidate for the role.
This is especially true if you have slightly less experience than the job is asking for, or if you are a graduate applying to your first role.
If you’re not sure whether to write a cover letter or not, we recommend erring on the side of caution and sending one through.
Make sure you look up cover letter examples and be clear and concise in highlighting your skills and experience, but don’t just repeat everything you’ve already written. Include examples that you didn’t include in your CV, and expand on things you only got to mention briefly.
As engineering recruitment specialists, we’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to CV mistakes!
One simple mistake on any CV can act as a big red flag to a recruiter, so it’s important to make sure you haven’t made any rookie errors!
Before you start applying, make sure you’ve also checked for these 21 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Your Engineering CV.
If you’ve already spent hours fine-tuning your CV and you’re looking for your next engineering role, why not send your CV across to one of our recruiters to see if they can find you the perfect new position?