Resume Writing For Engineers: Formatting Tips

Image Credit: Flazingo via Flickr

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.

Alan Carty, recruiter at automationtechies

About the Author:

This article is written by Alan Carty, President & CEO of Automationtechies.

Catch him on LinkedIn or by email.

2018-08-24T15:41:35+00:00August 3rd, 2015|Career Tips|7 Comments


  1. […] In my previous post, I wrote about what I like to see in a resume and offered advice on how to create an effective one. Today I’d like to share a few resume faux pas and resume fraud issues I’ve seen over the years.  First I’ll start with the minor infractions, primarily issues that stem from improper formatting and resume design. […]

  2. PLC in Chennai September 18, 2017 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    This session is very impressive and useful tips sharing for prepare fair resumes thanks for sharing very effective post for fresher’s.

  3. Larry Tessari November 6, 2017 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    What do you do if your college doesn’t exist any more? My college (Detroit Institute of Technology) ceased operation in1981. Without going into a lot of detail about all the gyrations about how a college went out of business, I simply state that it is now part of Lawrence Technological University because you can get a transcript of my work from there. I also state sometimes that my college was unique in that it had an astronaut (Wally Schirra) on the faculty.

    Does putting an “oversimplified” explanation on my resume like this help or hurt? If someone tries to find my college web site, they won’t because it doesn’t exist

    • Megan Carty, Recruiter & Blog Manager November 6, 2017 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      You should put Detroit Institute of Technology (now Lawrence Technological University) or Detroit Institute of Technology (now part of Lawrence Technological University). Company name changes follow a similar format. For example: XYZ Firm (formerly ABC Company) or ABC Inc (now known as XYZ Corporation).

      Plus, when a recruiter or prospective employer googles “Detroit Institute of Technology” the first 4 results that pop up explain everything. In just a few seconds I was able to gather that it was a fully accredited, four-year technical college in Detroit, Michigan that closed and that Lawrence Technological University was issued custody of the academic records of the Detroit Institute of Technology by the Michigan Department of Education.

      And, although it is interesting, I would leave off the astronaut comment. Just keep things simple.

      Hope that answers your question!

  4. Onlyremotejobs August 24, 2018 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Very helpful article! I am a starter and this is useful to me. Thank you.

  5. recrui July 11, 2019 at 10:57 am - Reply

    thanks for sharing your valuable information.

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