The first step in the resume preparation process is to gather your content. Take the time to brainstorm and write down all of your work experiences, activities, honors, and skills. Again, it is okay to include your high school involvement and accomplishments; however, they will disappear from your resume after your 1st or 2nd year in college. Employers are most interested in:
- your education and grade point average.
- the skills, knowledge and professional practices that you have developed through work experiences and other experiential learning activities (student organizations, volunteer activities, etc.) Of particular interest are the engineering competencies that are typical for your major.
- your inclination to show initiative, take responsibility and provide leadership.
- any special recognitions and/or awards that you have received.
- your professional interests (if your interests match the type of work they have to offer, employers are more likely to give you additional consideration).
Unless you want to limit your job search to a specific company or industry, focus on your application of transferable engineering skills. These include problem solving, data analysis, project management, communication, customer service, teamwork, and initiative. The competency list that each department develops for their ABET accreditation process specifies the skills that employers currently find most important for the practice of engineering. Add other skills to this list, such as specialized lab equipment, software programming languages and business skills, that you feel employers will find valuable.
Any individual can state that they have certain skills, but employers need to see evidence. For example, they may be scanning your resume for key words that indicate problem solving skills, but they are not going to simply accept that you have those skills if you simply say, “I have strong problem solving skills.” They want to see evidence that you have successfully used your problem solving skills. Therefore, you will need to provide statements that demonstrate that you have used your transferable engineering skills to accomplish something.
You will likely discover that the most difficult aspect of the resume preparation process is remembering all the tasks that you accomplished during your work experiences and student projects. With this in mind, your goal for future resume development should be to regularly spend a few minutes reflecting on and making notes about your experiences. As mentioned previously, a resume is meant to be a dynamic representation of a job candidate’s highest marketable qualifications, so your resume will be constantly evolving. You should always be thinking about strengthening your resume. This not only involves doing well in classes and seeking experiences where you can hone your engineering skills, but also reflecting on your experiences and documenting what you learned and accomplished.
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