Nuclear Engineering Resume Review
July 19, 2015 3:58 PM   Subscribe

A family member of mine has asked me to help them with their resume, and frankly it's a mess. It's also in a field that I know very little about (engineering). Where can I go to find recent sample resumes and/or best practices for folks in this field so I can help my relative fix their application up?

My main concerns are that the resume is too long (2.5 pages for someone who's a recent grad), too wordy (professor told relative to be really specific so there are multiple descriptions for skills and qualifications), and includes what I consider to be extremely dated sections (2 paragraph professional summary, references, etc). Are these norms in the engineering world, though? (Specialization: mechanical/nuckear). Generic resume advice may not apply here and that's why I'm seeking engineer-specific guidance.

Relative has twice been taken for a ride by two scam agencies and won't go to any others so here we are. If you know or are someone who a) hires engineers and b) would be willing to take a look at this stuff, please let me know.
posted by Hermione Granger to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As a recent grad, does he/she have access to their college's career services office, ideally a part of the office that specifically works with engineers? Resume help is normally one of the services they can provide, and if the school has a reasonably significant engineering program, it should have engineering-specific career services available.
posted by zachlipton at 4:04 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

zachlipton beat me to it. Check with engineering career services. Here's a link to the type of resources that might be available
posted by rocketbadger at 4:07 PM on July 19, 2015

Response by poster: He does, but they're not a very prestigious school and they tend to try and place people back at their campus rather than help them get jobs in the real world. :( Would it be inappropriate for him to get in touch with the significantly more well known and well regarded university near us to request assistance from their career services department?
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:09 PM on July 19, 2015

Try reverse engineering the resume (no pun intended). Have this person pick out a couple of job postings that he or she would like to apply for and base the resume on that. That way you will have some of the key industry jargon in front of you, and you can see what is considered "required" and what is "preferred".
posted by LilithSilver at 4:18 PM on July 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Personally, I'd tell your friend to stay far away from college career centers. Unfortunately, they tend to be staffed by people who haven't hired in the real world in decades. Professors often have the same dated advice.

I don't know about engineering in particular, but Ask a Manager always has good advice. You can peruse her section on resumes. She also has a lot to say about college career centers.

Actually, if you don't get any good advice here, you could email Ask a Manager and ask her to put the question out to her readers. She's got a pretty good group of commenters from a wide range of industries.
posted by radioamy at 4:18 PM on July 19, 2015 [7 favorites]

Speaking as an engineer (chemical) that graduated from undergrad in 2010, the two things you pointed out (professional summary and references) are not things I used on my resume or see on colleagues/intern resumes. The structure of his resume will depend on if he has any work / internship / academic research experience, listed in descending order of general industry preferences. If he's lacking those, his resume will just not look as good as one of someone who has. In my opinion, the resume of a recent grad should go like this:

Name, address, phone number.

UG institution, date graduated, GPA if above 3.0, major/minor/concentration

Classes or skills:
To be included if work experience is sparse or does not fully display the advanced skills he has. Include only high level classes applicable to job applications, NOT electives or filler. Skills can be useful for displaying software/programming languages, lab techniques etc that again are not already seen in work experience.

Work experience (if a mix of industry / academic roles, can break them into 2 sections that go chronological independently, "Work Experience" and "Research Experience")
Chronological from most recent job / internship / research experience. 4-6 bullets per job, with each bullet having max 2 lines. Focus on things accomplished or useful skills acquired. Work in keywords for the specific job application if needed. If total jobs go beyond 1-2 pages, start paring down the older or more inconsequential ones or ones least related to the job. Also keep a resume on file that lists all jobs, just to have on hand.
posted by permiechickie at 5:00 PM on July 19, 2015

Engineering resumes do tend to be a little longer than non-eng resumes (mine was just about a page and a half as a new grad, and it was all stuff that couldn't really be removed), but definitely ditch the professional summary and references. The references can kind of go either way, but the effect of the summary will range from neutral to negative when he's applying for jobs. Tell him to move it to a cover letter, where it can be ignored the old-fashioned way.
posted by Itaxpica at 5:26 PM on July 19, 2015

i guess this is obvious, sorry, but when i needed to hire people all i cared about what (1) what they could do and (2) evidence they weren't bullshitting. so exact format doesn't really matter, but an idea of what the employer is looking for does. then you need a list up front with those skills and details later showing where you obtained them.
posted by andrewcooke at 6:02 PM on July 19, 2015

Can you confirm if the person is job hunting in the US? I ask because where I live (Australia) resumes are more pages and the US style squished up one page ones seem really odd to us. You'll want advice tailored to the country of application and not just to the engineering field.
posted by kitten magic at 6:17 PM on July 19, 2015

I had to go through a good review of my cv recently


brief summary (very brief like one short no more than 1-3 lines)

Some keywords

Chronological time and places of employment.

PM me and I will send you a copy.

posted by Vroom_Vroom_Vroom at 6:22 PM on July 19, 2015

So my eng husband says that a LinkedIn resume/profile is the most important thing. No one in his field is looking at traditional paper resumes. They are pretty much all info scrapes from LinkedIn/recruiters.

But an eng resume is often more than one page.
posted by saradarlin at 7:34 PM on July 19, 2015

Response by poster: Yes, U.S. job hunter. For those of you giving format advice, are you coming at this from resume building in general, or are you engineers/someone who hires engineers? I appreciate your input but I really need industry specific stuff right now as I already know how to do a regular resume and need confirmation that the elements I find problematic are problematic not essential to someone applying for a job in engineering. Thanks!
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:59 PM on July 19, 2015

I hire s/w engineers sometimes...

(1) what they could do and (2) evidence they weren't bullshitting

First, the resume: recent grad => 1 page just-the-facts; grouped by education, skills, experience, certs; references; style doesn't matter as long as its not a comic-sans shitshow. consistent font 12pt min so it's readable on the fly during the interview. attention to parallel structure.

Second, applying online: almost every firm will require a new account and filling out their own forms with candidate info. maybe an upload of the actual resume. my bet is this is never looked at, at all, ever. online applications are keyword searches for the right acronyms.

Third, the conversation: As an interviewer, the resume is my guide for what to talk about. I run my interviews conversationally. If you don't want me asking you to tell me a specific story about skill 'x', better not put it on there. I don't do bullshit rapid-fire trick-technical-detail-questions. some places do.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:53 PM on July 19, 2015

Response by poster: General update: we followed the advice provided here and he got a job almost immediately after having applied to many, many places. So proud of him. Thank you for helping us show his new employers what an asset he's going to be!
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:08 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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