How to write an engineering graduate CV that gets you recruited
Updated 18 August 2023
One of the first things to do after graduating from university is to work on your graduate CV. Writing a CV can seem like a daunting task if you haven't done this before, but by following a pre-defined approach you can craft an excellent CV that attracts the attention of employers. Knowing how to write an effective graduate CV can help you gain access to job opportunities by opening the door to interviews. In this article, we help you craft an interesting engineering graduate CV that gets you hired.
How to write an engineering graduate CV
Engineering graduate CVs look different from person to person due to people coming from different backgrounds, but there are consistencies across all of them. Engineers may also have a project portfolio that showcases engineering work that they've completed in the past. This may be work that you have done at university or paid experience, and it always makes an excellent addition to an engineer's CV. Project portfolios are not essential, but CVs are. Here's what to include in your engineering graduate CV:
1. Include contact details
Providing contact details at the top of your CV makes it easy for employers to contact you to invite you to an interview. The details to include are your full name, email address, residential address, telephone number and possibly a link to an online profile or project portfolio. You also have the option to include a photograph of yourself at the top of your CV, as this can make you seem more familiar and personable to recruiters.
2. Add you personal statement
A personal statement provides recruiters and hiring managers with an overview of your relevant skills, experience and career goals. Tailor your personal statement to the role you're applying for to show the employer that you're passionate about engineering. You can also convey your suitability for the position by tweaking your personal statement to align with the role and company culture. CV personal statements typically comprise three components:
A statement about you: Concisely describe your experience, accomplishments and achievements to show the employer that you're a candidate worth considering.
Your value to the organisation: Tweak your personal statement whenever you apply for a new job so that it applies to the new position.
Your career goals: Let the employer know how this job might help you advance your career goals, as this shows that you are serious about the position.
Try to limit your personal statement to three to five sentences because you expand on your experience in later sections of the CV.
3. Include relevant skills
As a graduate engineer, you possess skills that are in high demand and a good CV highlights this. Because you probably have limited work experience at the moment, potential employers are most interested in the skills and knowledge you've gained during your degree. Here are some valuable hard and soft skills for an engineering graduate:
Computer competency: Engineers use computers to perform various aspects of their job, from diagnosing electrical problems in machines to creating 3D models using computer programs.
Data analysis: Depending on your engineering speciality, the amount of time you spend working with data varies. Data engineers, for example, spend the majority of their time working with data.
Problem-solving: All engineers, no matter where they work, use their problem-solving skills to come up with solutions to engineering problems.
Attention to detail: This is an important skill for engineers for various reasons, including the fact that they spend a lot of time interpreting technical details on job specification documents.
Written and verbal communication: Engineers often write reports and create presentations to convey their ideas and document their work. This means that they benefit from excellent written and verbal communication skills to succeed in this role.
4. Provide work experience
As a graduate, your engineering work experience is likely limited, but you can still use this section of your CV to show how you're building skills to prepare for a future position. Include all relevant work experience, such as full or part-time jobs, internships, research projects, volunteer work or any other experience you have. The roles themselves might not be relevant, but the skills you gained are, such as being a team player and time management. By outlining previous work experience, including roles not directly linked to engineering, you show employers you've got the soft skills necessary to succeed.
5. Outline your education
As a graduate, highlighting your education on your CV is vital. The education section shows the employer that you're well-qualified and have the skills highlighted by them. List your education in reverse chronological order, with your most recent degree at the start of the section. Include the name of the educational institution, the qualification title, the dates of study and the grade obtained. Additionally, showcase particular modules or projects that relate to the role you're applying for. For example, if you're applying to a graduate mechanical engineering role, highlight specific modules or projects related to mechanical engineering.
6. Make it concise
Employers want to understand your suitability for the role quickly. They often receive dozens of applications for one role and can only spend a limited amount of time reviewing each CV. For this reason, a CV that highlights your technical skills and practical experience is typically less than two sides of A4. To keep your CV concise, avoid repetition and write sentences that are succinct. A CV deemed to be mostly redundant could be off-putting to the employer. There is an opportunity to expand on your points elsewhere, as many applications ask that you submit a cover letter.
7. Proofread your CV
Once you've completed your graduate engineering CV, proofread and edit the document to ensure there are no mistakes. Also, avoid using slang and use a consistent writing style. Double-check that the document uses one reliable and readable font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, as using these fonts makes your CV more accessible. Finally, ensure you align the text properly and evenly space it with 2.5cm margins around the document. Some may find it useful to print out the CV and read the text out loud to identify any mistakes.
8. Use action verbs
When proofreading your CV, check that you've used action verbs to sound more confident. People overuse words such as 'assisted' and 'oversaw' and can undermine the strength of your CV. Here is a list of action verbs you can use to strengthen your CV:
9. Ask someone else to proofread your CV
To ensure your CV is error free, ask a family member or friend to proofread it for you. It is easier for someone who did not write the CV to spot any mistakes. They can also highlight any relevant skills or experience you haven't included. While you might not think some of your skills or experience applies to the engineering job you are applying for, they might think differently. A second or even a third pair of eyes is extremely valuable for proofreading.
Tips for writing a strong graduate engineering cover letter
Cover letters give you a chance to expand on some of the things you have mentioned in your CV and to link your skills and experience directly to the job you're applying for. Cover letters are among the first things a hiring manager sees when receiving your application. It provides a great opportunity to grab their attention immediately. A good cover letter opens with a friendly greeting and proceeds directly, speaking simply and directly, but conveying key points about your suitability for the role.
Aside from explaining precisely how you're a good fit for the role, you can also take the opportunity to explain your history and what inspired you to become an engineer. By displaying a genuine passion for the field, you're likely to impress employers and increase your chances of being hired because it shows your dedication. Ensure that you are using the keywords that the employer has mentioned in the job description and targeting all the requirements that the company has detailed. Finally, double-check the document for any spelling and grammar mistakes, as these can create a poor impression.
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