How to Write the Perfect CV for your First Engineering Job
Performing the role of HR Manager in an engineering business and running my own marketing business for the Process Industry, I have experienced the pain of trying to find the right person for a vacancy.
As an engineering graduate you might think you are at a disadvantage due to lack of ‘real life' experience. However, many descriptions of dissertations and theses can be tailored to bring out their real-life value and the relevant skills you have developed whilst pursuing them. Experience isn't everything, and even if it is, it might still be worth a try! Read on to find out why...
Top Tip 1 – know the target company
Researching the target company is the most important thing any candidate can bring to the interview table. Get to know and understand the company's values, mission, their strategic direction and over-riding goals and objectives.
Tailor your CV to demonstrate that you know the company and understand the job description. Relate your dissertation to the company's activities, link your aspirations to the company's strategic direction and align your interests with the company's opportunities.
Top Tip 2 – Think outside the box
The most common problem I see with engineering graduates is a CV lacking in substance because they don't think they have anything to talk about that's relevant to the role.
Rather than leaving a gaping hole in your CV, where previous job descriptions would usually go, why not focus more on the modules you have studied on your degree, masters or PhD course? Explain the reasons why you enjoyed the module you did and why your personality/work ethic made you excel at them (of course, these modules will be coincidentally relevant to the job you are applying for...)
Top Tip 3 – If you don't ask, you don't get!
Even if the role you are applying for does require real-life experience as an essential element, most organizations are likely to have a place for you – especially if you make yourself a ‘no-brainer'. Most forward-thinking organizations are desperate to recruit new engineers and develop them through the ranks.
I once received a CV from a graduate who applied for an experienced role. He explained that although he doesn't have the experience, he would love to join the company on minimum wage and learn for a year. He felt that he would then gain the necessary skills to re-apply for the job advertised. This commitment and hunger for personal development won him a job; he remains our highest performing (& best paid!) engineer to this date.
As a graduate you are often seen as a ‘blank slate' that can be easily molded into a company's culture, processes & policies. Use this to your advantage – this is the one time in your entire career where your CV can be written solely to appeal to a particular company.
Top Tip 4 – Give the employer a compelling reason to read on...
Most CV's are 2 to 3 pages in length. A potential employer will on a first scan take 10 seconds to look at your CV; it is during this first scan you need to give him or her a compelling reason to read on. Use the first paragraph to clearly and concisely explain why your CV is worth reading, demonstrating how exactly you intend to contribute to their organization.
Good luck getting those engineering jobs!