We are often asked what makes a good CV? So we decided to put together some Hints and Tips mostly from our team, who together have over twenty years experience in recruiting engineering personnel.
A short and easy read is always preferable, but dont get too caught up in this and be tempted to go too short.
The majority of engineering companies, when recruiting, are aiming to obtain knowledge of your experience. They are looking to identify this in black and white within the body of your CV.
Ultimately they do what you and I would, and that is look for the experiences they require within the CV to be able to move onto an interview stage. However unless they have a lot of time on their hands (and they rarely do) they are unlikely to read a CV the length of War and Peace.
So we suggest that you should aim to present 20-years experience into no more than 5 pages.
Do you feel up to it?
Now some of you will be saying that careers councillors normally say 2 pages is the optimum size.
Well, that is true if you take an average on all professions from secretary to bishop. Engineering however is a diverse subject and civil design engineers, for example, can work on projects as diverse as the channel tunnel rail link to the design of your average house extension foundations.
Because of this we find that the majority of companies find up to 5 pages generally acceptable.
Companies are usually only interested in your most recent experience over the last 5 years worked.
So, to gain the right exposure your CV should be in reverse chronological order and show a clear employment history with greater detail in the more recent jobs and very little in the earlier ones.
Dont leave any gaps. If you have had a break in employment at any point state why that was.
e.g. seeking suitable employment or world travel.
OK so what about your earlier experience?
This experience should not be forgotten about, remember it was the building blocks of who you are today and needs to be mentioned to give a full picture.
The best way to do this is in a Profile/Summary.
A good summary gains the readers attention early on and sells you.
Profile / Summary
This should be no more than half a page and should be descriptive.
Its your opportunity to sell yourself and gain interest, you can briefly mention your early experience, study and personal characteristics i.e. that you are a strong manager, work well under pressure etc.
1. An experienced Engineer with expertise in steel, concrete, timber and masonry. He has enthusiastically adopted the benefits of computer technology purchasing his first software package comprising the SKELETON plane frame analysis & VisiCalc spreadsheet in 1984, has subsequently mastered QSE, STAAD, SuperSTRESS & SAND, together with Excel & Lotus 123 spreadsheets. This varied experience has given him an acute awareness to both the advantages & limitations of computer analyses. He is fully conversant in all the main current UK codes of practice BS5950, BS8110 & BS8007, together with the American standards AISC & ACI.
- An enthusiastic and well-motivated Engineering Professional with a background in structural and dynamic analysis of structures and components in the aerospace, rail and automotive industry sectors. This is complemented with more recent experience in project and man management, budgetary control, consultancy and IT sales, marketing and business development activities and the co-ordination and preparation of technical quotations for various clients world-wide. Excellent interpersonal skills are shown by the ability to communicate confidently with people at all levels.
An ideal layout should present all the relevant information in an easy readable fashion, for example:
Date of Birth and any further relevant personal details
Profile / Summary
If you are a chartered engineer, then details on your degree or HND/HNC is all that is required
Details on your O Level in cookery are not required.....!
Career History. With Dates, Name of Employer, your Job Title and a brief Description of Duties.
July 1979- August 1980
With the last 5 years being the most important, you should give a good description of the role, your duties and projects, plus indication of the project value if appropriate. You should however still limit the description to no more than a couple of paragraphs.
Remember you have the profile at the beginning of your CV to cover your wider experience.
10 KEY POINTS to remember:
- Your CV is there to get you an interview
- You usually have no more than 30 seconds to grab the clients attention with your CV
- Correct address and all contact numbers
- Personal details are all there including your name, gender, date of birth and nationality
- Educational details must be clear and correct with dates
- Your CV must demonstrate a clear employment history with dates
- Hobbies and interests are relevant for permanent posts, not contract
- References - if you have them provide them
- Do not send a picture of yourself unless requested to do so
- Keep the presentation of the CV clear and simple