Resume – General Tips

Each section of the resume will be addressed specifically, but the following tips apply generally to the resume.

The length of a resume depends on the situation.

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 resume should be kept current and updated at least once a semester.

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.

Content, organization and consistency are critical.

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. Click here for more information on utilizing keywords and action verbs.
  • 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.

Resume building tools and templates can be useful, but use with caution.

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.

Proofreading is critical.

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.

Save your resume in .pdf and in .txt format with your name in the file name.

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.

Resume Paper and some colored printing may help.

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.