It is important to realize that the employment process involves marketing yourself.  The best products won’t be successful without a solid marketing strategy and the same is true for your job search.   A lot of great students struggle to find employment simply because they have not put the time and effort into creating quality marketing tools.  These marketing tools are your resume, your cover letters and your pitch or elevator speech.   These three items are used to get you an interview where you can more fully present your qualifications.  They must be done well.

The Resume

The resume is used to apply for all engineering internships and post-graduation jobs.  It is essential that you create and maintain a resume that represents your qualifications for professional positions.   A well-crafted resume showcases communication skills and presents the carefully-selected information that indicates you possess the education, skills, experiences, and interests that will benefit the company.

General Tips:

One page of well-presented information is enough for recruiters to make an initial evaluation during a networking event such as the career fair. When screening a candidate, recruiters only have time to spend about a minute reviewing a resume so it needs to be well organized and concise.  If you are applying online for a position, it is fine to have a multiple-page resume if the extra space is needed to fully present your relevant qualifications.

A college resume typically includes all significant college accomplishments and maybe a few major high school accomplishments.  Employers are primarily interested in your most recent experience relevant to engineering.  As your resume lengthens, drop older and less relevant pieces.

Recruiters look for professional content that demonstrates experience in their needed skill areas and experience that separates you from other candidates.  Organization is also critical because employers must be able to find the information quickly.  They like resumes that have a familiar look to them but it is okay to add a personal touch as long as the document looks professional. Make sure formatting is consistent throughout your resume as this will speak to your attention to detail.  Employers often use scanners to search for keywords in resumes. Make sure it is easy to read and do not use wild fonts or formatting that could cause problems with the scanner.

  • Reverse chronological order (most recent to least recent) should be used.
    As mentioned above, employers are most interested in the most recent information.
  • Use descriptive and precise statements for ease of reading.
    Avoid large paragraphs of information that require the reader to search for the key information.  Recruiters prefer bulleted statements over large blocks of information. Start phrases with action verbs and avoid overusing certain action words.
  • Identify key words and tailor your resume when possible.
    Find the key words in the job description and include them in your resume.  For example, if the job description mentions mechanical testing and you have done some mechanical testing, make sure to include it in your resume.  Some employers use scanning systems for the first screening of candidates.  If a certain number of key words from the job description are not found in a resume, it will not be considered. See below for advice on saving your resume in a format that is compatible with scanning technology.
  • Be honest and don’t embellish, but don’t undervalue your experience and accomplishments.
    If the information presented in a resume is inaccurate or inconsistent with other information obtained in the initial review or interview process, the candidate will most likely be eliminated from further consideration.   Conversely, this is not the time for modesty either as employers want to know about your accomplishments.

Templates can be helpful when making a resume for the first time. These tools help to ensure that all the important information is included. There are a number of professional-looking layouts and styles that can be used. Please note that certain templates make the resume look boxy or add unwanted, random characters/spaces. Engineering Career Services has several example resumes available on our engineering prep course to help you build your resume.

Employers expect your resume to be an example of your best work, therefore, spelling and grammatical errors often result in elimination from further consideration.  Have multiple reviewers look for mistakes in grammar, spelling, alignment, and consistency.

Many companies scan resumes or require them to be pasted into company career portals as simple text. Employers may receive many resumes; make it easy for them to find yours by including your name in the file name.

Printing on plain paper is perfectly acceptable, but printing on premium weighted or linen business paper may help your resume stand out. Additionally, using some color in headings might accentuate parts of your resume.  Remember, you will be primarily judged by the content of your resume but the quality-related details can be a tie breaker.

The Cover Letter

A cover letter is used to introduce yourself and your resume when you are not able to make these introductions in person.  A cover letter should be used whenever you are sending your resume to someone for consideration for employment. It is very important to tailor each cover letter to create a connection to the position and help convince the employer that you are the best candidate.

General Tips:

Make this match your resume header.

First Name, Last Name

Phone Number| Email | Street address, City, State, Zip (Or you can solely list City & State)

Month Day, Year

  • Use a formal salutation whether you personally know the contact person or not.
  • When there is a specific contact, address it to that individual.
  • If you do not know the individual’s preferred pronouns then use their full name instead of Mr./Ms. (Example) “Dear Chris Smith”:
  • When there is not a contact person, use a formal generic salutation. (e.g., “To the Search Committee:”, or “Dear Hiring Manager:”

  • Introduce yourself and reestablish a prior connection to the addressee if possible (e.g., “you may remember me from our discussion at the career fair”).
  • Explain why you are writing.
    • When applying for a specific position – State that you are applying for The Specific Position Title. Many companies have multiple job openings, so it is important to specify which job you are seeking.
    • When prospecting – State that you are seeking employment and have a strong interest in their organization or industry.
    • When networking – State that you are seeking employment and were hoping they could help you connect with someone that is looking to hire someone with your qualifications.
  • Explain how you learned of the position because employers like to know.
  • Provide basic information about yourself and why you are interested in the position or working for the organization. Identify connections between your interests and the job, employer and/or industry.

  • Depending on the number of skills/qualifications you wish to write about, this section might be comprised of either one or two paragraphs.
  • The goal in this section is to:
    • Highlight your skills and qualifications that you view as strengths that explicitly match the needs of the employer (based on the position description)
    • Indicate your passion and interest for the type of work, company, and/or industry
  • Describe experiences that have provided you with knowledge, skills, and interests that explicitly match the needs of the company.
  • Draw attention to select pieces of information on your resume that directly relate to the desired qualifications. Highlight specific experiences and provide additional details that demonstrate your level of experience to the employer.
  • For experiences that are closely related (example: You have experience with statistics software similar to the one they ask for) give a summary sentence that shows the impact of your experience and qualifies your learning as similar to what they ask for.
  • If you have little connection to the specific qualifications then you should show your passion and interest for the industry, company, and position. Also, add your highest quality examples of transferable professional skills that most employers will be seeking (e.g., teamwork, communication, quality orientation). Students and recent graduates will often draw upon quality examples from coursework, internships, part-time work, project-based activities, and leadership positions.
  • If you are from the area where the job is located or you have a specific reason to want to relocate there, it is often helpful to make this known. Employers know that you are more likely to be a long-term employee if you have a connection to the area.

  • The first one to two sentences is often a summary statement that reinforces that you are a good match for the position and refers the reader to your attached resume.
  • Thank the reader for their time and for considering you for the position.
  • Indicate you would like an opportunity to interview for a position or to talk with the employer to learn more about career opportunities and indicate your preferred method of contact.

  • Use a formal closing such as “Sincerely,” “Best Regards,” or “Respectfully,”.
  • Leave space for your signature and then type your name.
  • Sign the letter.
    • You can either sign and scan your signature or pick a cursive font.

Introductory Conversations *formerly known as Elevator Pitches

Based on feedback from employers, we have updated our guidance on how to introduce yourself to employers. Information on how to have these introductory conversations has been moved to Module 6: Networking. For more information on how to have these introductory conversations follow the link below.