Resume Writing For Engineers: Formatting Tips
I am not an expert on resume writing, however, after functioning as a recruiter for over 15 years, I do have a strong preference for what I like to see, and not see, in a resume.
In general, people within our niche (industrial automation) tend to represent themselves well on their resume, but I also see some strange formats that are either hard to read or present the information in an illogical fashion.
Here is an example of what I consider to be a solid resume format:
Below are some things to note about this format that I like:
- All contact information is at the top and easy to find. Don’t use the footer to display your address, phone etc., or for that matter ANY important information, as many people will never even look at the footer.
- Start off the content portion with a Summary/Objective section. This should be short and describes what you’ve done and what you’d like to do.
- Next, your work history should be in reverse chronological order. This seems very elementary, but about 5% of the resumes I review show a candidate’s first (most irrelevant) job at the beginning.
- Your work history should also include bullets describing your responsibilities and skills used during that job. I see many resumes that list the work history with no detail and then later you find all their responsibilities, accomplishments and skills in another section. How does a prospective employer know if your skills are current if they are not listed within your work history?
- Your education section should be below your work history for one simple reason: it’s not as important as your work history. Many people continue adding to the resume they used in college (when work history might not be as relevant as your education) and are still be leading with their education 15 years later.
- There are many variations on what people list at the end of their resume, many of which include hobbies, interests, etc. My advice on this? Don’t do it! People know you likely have hobbies and there is a slight chance that your hobby might even be something shared by the reader. However, there’s also a chance that the reader might interpret something negative in your hobbies. Here are a few that I have seen that made me cringe:
- Avid golfer – 2 handicap. (That’s awesome, but you have to golf a lot to be that good and I want to hire someone who works a lot.)
- Watching television (I’m serious! Who doesn’t like to watch TV, but listing this as a hobby really makes you sound unimaginative.)
- Reading/Listening to Music (Two of the most common. See above.)
- Internet Surfing (Even at work?)
- Anything about politics, religion, gender, or relationship status. (Any of these can potentially lead to discrimination or give a bad impression.)
It’s best to leave the hobbies and interest section off your resume since it is irrelevant at best and could actually hurt your chances for an interview. Stick to your educational and work achievements instead!
By now it’s clear I’ve developed quite the opinion of how I like to see a resume presented. Along the way, I have also run across common resume faux pas and even some resume fraud that I will share with you in my next blog post. Stay tuned!
Click to read Alan’s next post: Resume Writing For Engineers: Fraud, Flaws, and Faux Pas.