The essential guide to writing an effective engineering resume

Engineers make the world go ‘round – whether it’s designing roadways and infrastructure or developing new technology and innovative equipment. To earn your dream engineering job, you need to craft a resume that not only highlights your experience but also your professional specializations and skills.

In this guide, we will provide you with 5 key steps for writing an Engineering resume. Keep reading to learn all about:

  • Choosing the best resume format as an engineer
  • Creating a resume summary to showcase your professional attributes
  • Selecting key engineering skills for your resume
  • Describing your engineering experience with concise details
  • Listing your engineering education correctly on a resume

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1. Choose the best resume format as an engineer

The first major decision to make when writing an engineering resume is which format to use.

Resume formats will differ according to work experience, with some prioritizing it more and others focusing on other sections instead. The format that is best for you is highly dependent on your current level of experience.

Here is a breakdown of the 3 main resume formats and when to use them:

  1. The Reverse-Chronological Resume: This resume format is focused almost entirely on work experience, listing your most recent job first and working backward from that point. The reverse-chronological resume is the standard format expected by most employers but is only truly effective when you have enough relevant work experience to showcase.
  2. The Functional Resume: Functional resumes eliminate the emphasis on work experience, instead focusing on education, skills, and unpaid experience. This format is often well-suited to current students and recent graduates who have an extensive academic background but a limited formal work history.
  3. The Hybrid Resume: Hybrid resumes combine elements of the above two formats to create a document without a central focal section. Instead, this resume format spreads out the focus of the document between all sections, making it a good choice for applicants with a mix of academic and professional experience.

Choose your preferred template and make your resume shine.

2. Create a resume summary to showcase your engeneering professional attributes

A resume summary is a short statement at the beginning of your resume used to introduce you and your best professional attributes to an employer.

When writing an engineering resume, a summary is especially important to showcase not just these attributes but also your specialized discipline within the vast industry of engineering.

As you write your resume summary, you should be mindful of providing enough specificity and context for it to be effective. To illustrate this concept better, here is a weak summary followed by a correction and explanation.

Incorrect engineer resume summary example

Engineer with more than 5 years of experience working directly with clients, providing consultations and monthly check-in meetings for ongoing projects. Skilled at increasing operational and production efficiencies, as well as decreasing overall product defects.

Why is this incorrect?

In this example, the applicant fails to provide any specific examples of their experience or accomplishments. Furthermore, the applicant does not state which specialized discipline of engineering they work in, making this summary too vague to be an effective introduction.

Corrected engineer resume summary

Production & Mechanical Engineer with 5+ years of experience working with corporate clients to develop and design state-of-the-art mechanical products. Increased operational and production efficiency at previous employer’s company by 45%, as well as decreased overall product defects by 55% year-over-year.

Why is this correct?

In this corrected example, the applicant provides the same basic information but with far greater detail and context. They clearly state the type of engineering they are specialized in, as well as stating what types of products they work on. They end the summary with an impressive accomplishment that includes specific and quantifiable figures. 

3. Select key engineering skills for your resume

Skills are an important component of an engineer’s resume, as they help to show employers your full range of talents. As such, it is crucial to include both technical and interpersonal skills on a resume.

Technical skills are your learned abilities gained through education and training, such as designing products, while interpersonal skills are both learned and inherent abilities that govern how you interact with the people and world around you.

To help you brainstorm ideas for skills to include on your resume, here are 10 examples of both technical and interpersonal engineering skills:

The best engineering hard skills to put on your resume

  • Computer science & programming
  • Engineering software (cad, autocad, etc.)
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Project management
  • Product design & development
  • Mathematics
  • Workflow development
  • Prototyping processes
  • Troubleshooting
  • Quality control

Effective interpersonal skills for your engineer CV

  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Client relations
  • Clear communication
  • Adaptability
  • Attention to detail
  • Time management
  • Organization
  • Enthusiasm

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4. Describe your engineering experience with concise details

Your work experience section is where you can provide more in-depth detail into your relevant experience, skills, and accomplishments at previous jobs. When writing this section, be sure to keep your descriptions concise – ideally no more than one, bullet-pointed sentence.

Additionally, include exact numbers and figures whenever possible. This type of quantifiable information gives employers the best overview of your past accomplishments and the scope of your talents.

Here is an example of a work experience entry from an engineering resume:

Tech United Associates, Dallas, TX
Mechanical Engineer
May 2018 to June 2021

  • Implemented new equipment maintenance processes that resulted in a 20% increase in equipment reliability.
  • Designed and developed 30+ patented mechanical equipment and products.
  • Conducted environmental impact studies to improve and reduce overall emissions.

5. List your engineering education correctly on a resume

To become an engineer, you will generally need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in your chosen engineering discipline.

However, to become a more competitive candidate – and a higher paid worker – a master’s degree or additional certifications can help boost your resume’s effectiveness.

Regardless of which educational credentials you possess, you should always make sure to include the following information in your education section:

  • The name of the degree or certification
  • The university or certifying institution
  • Your date of graduation
  • Certification expiration dates (when applicable)

Here is an example of a well-crafted education section on an Engineering resume:

The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
M.S. in Civil Engineering

  • Graduated: 2015, Summa Cum Laude

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
B.S. in Engineering

  • Graduated: 2013
Published on Feb. 24, 2022

Martin is a resume expert and career advice writer at Kickresume. In his five years at Kickresume, he has written nearly 100 in-depth, painstakingly researched resume advice articles and, as chief editor, he has also edited and revised every single article on this website. Tens of thousands of job seekers read Martin’s resume advice every month. He holds a degree in English from the University of St Andrews and a degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Amsterdam.

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