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How to Optimise a Professional Australian Resume/CV for Engineers (With Examples)

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I like working with Engineers at O'Byrne Executive, as they understand the importance of being precise and not cutting corners. They are also completely onboard with eliminating unnecessary information and ensuring that their resume is structured in a clear and concise manner.

Putting these skills and qualities into practice when writing a resume can be tricky, even for a detail orientated Engineer. Whether you specialise in mechanical, electrical, quality, manufacturing, robotics/automation, or civil engineering, there are ways you can ensure your resume stands out.

While a professional like myself will deliver the best results, especially for competitive higher paying roles, the below tips will ensure you beat out unoptimised job applications.

1. Keep your Resume's Content and Structure Clean & Concise

This tip is universal across most professions, but is particularly important for Engineers. You want to come across as informed and organised, and ensure the smooth flow of your content and structure reflects your approach to engineering itself. While fancy resumes can work for a small number of professions like graphic design, a clean and and straightforward design is best for engineering roles.

When it comes to the content, like with all professional resumes, you should break down your achievements and responsibilities into separate sections to be applicant tracking system (ATS) compliant. Example:

List of Resume Responsibilities and Achievements

As shown in the above example, the achievements and responsibilities are a maximum of three short lines in length. The key for engineering resumes is not to over-explain your abilities / skills, as Hiring Managers will know your skill level by your role title and tasks you were working on.

While I usually recommend four achievements, at the leadership/managerial level, it pays to add more (a maximum of eight). Also, using stats and figures to back up your achievements is important, as you can see in the above example. This is not only good when a Hiring Manager wants to get a detailed understanding of your experience, but if they just have time to scan your resume too.

When it comes to responsibilities, try to include between 8-11. This is generally the preferred limit for most applicants tracking systems (ATS), which I will expand on in the next point. It's less important that you include stats in this section, instead, stick to the core responsibilities you would like to highlight.

2. Ensure your Engineering Resume is ATS Compliant

All modern resumes need to be applicant tracking system (ATS) compliant, however engineering resumes need to pay extra attention to technical keywords.

When a recruiter is scrolling through applications on an ATS, the system will rank them based on a keyword analysis against a particular position description, among other factors. This is usually a score out of 100, which is meant to save the recruiter time by weeding out unfit candidates.

As an Engineer, you need to make sure you read through a role's position description and properly align the keywords to it. There are three main sections an ATS will look at when gathering keywords - the professional summary, skills sections (including a separate technical skills / software section), and your role descriptions.

In the above example, you can see that this Engineer was targeting project engineering roles. Both the professional summary and skills section are tailored to align with keywords that you would see for a specific type of engineering role.

Once your resume is properly ATS compliant, you will easily be able to alter it for any role you apply for. However, you need to ensure you are at least following the advice in this article, and achieving a score of at least 80/100.

There are some paid services like Jobscan that you can use, though a professional resume assessment would be the easiest way to know. We offer this for free at O'Byrne Executive, and I recommend you do this to avoid sending out work that will likely be rejected.

3. Use Data and Metrics to Highlight your Achievements & Experience

Working with engineers has taught me how informed they are in understanding the granular details required to successfully complete projects to a high standard. Instead of including such detail in their resume, they tend to gloss over them in overview form.

While this may work if you are applying to be a Store Assistant at JB HIFI, engineering requires precision and deep technical knowledge, and this needs to come across in your resume. This is especially important when listing achievements.

When looking through a job description, identify specific role requirements that you have experience in, and use data and metrics to explain them in your resume. In the 'Keep your Resume's Content and Structure Clean & Concise' section, I showed an example of achievements that showed off an Engineer's ability to manage and work within specific budgets.

I will add another example below of a resume I worked on for an RF Engineer:

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As you can see, this Senior RF Engineer has highlighted specific 5G technologies they worked on, while also talking about metrics (bandwidth / speed) of the upgrades they demonstrated.

Instead of just providing general statements, these metrics give a Hiring Manager confidence that you can deliver infrastructure projects, not just understand the technology behind them. This is vital to standing out against other engineers with similar experience, but who don't properly highlight their skills and achievements.

While I have altered the company name and some figures for privacy reasons, the engineer in the above example ended up landing a prominent role for a major Australian telco, and has since moved up to a high leadership position.

4. Proofreading & Highlighting Technical Skills

Of course there is a lot more that goes into a fully optimised engineering resume than the points discussed so far. This is especially the case if writing is not a strength of yours.

I highly recommend at a minimum that you get a couple of trusted friends (who are native English speakers), to proofread your resume. This is important, as even if you follow the above advice, poor quality writing will detract from your achievements.

If you don't know anybody who can do this to an adequate standard, you can hire someone on sites like Airtasker or Upwork. Just make sure you select someone with a decent reputation.

Something else you should include on your resume is a separate section for 'Technical Skills / Software'. This usually sits below the 'Skills' section, and can highlight your experience using software that is relevant to the roles you are applying for.

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The above example is the correct way of listing your technical skills and software. You should definitely avoid listing this content in sentence form, as it will just take up space and confuse Hiring Managers.

It is also important to properly read through the position description for each role you apply for, and identify the software they use. If you are not completely competent in such software, it would still be worth listing in this section (providing you have some experience using it).

Final Thoughts

Remember, the point of a resume is to give a snapshot of what you can offer, and show your suitability for a role. The brutal truth is that it's not the most competent engineer this is always hired, but those who network and properly tailor their employment documents.

Don't get me wrong, once you are excelling in a particular role, you will be able to rise within that organisation. Though transitioning to other roles is a different story. Unless your experience is so outstanding that even a poor resume will suffice (this is very uncommon), you will need to at least implement the points discussed in this article.

Unlike some professions where behavioural aspects are more heavily scrutinised, engineering roles tend to favour those who express competency and technical knowledge over everything else. Therefore, by utilising the above points, you should be able to do this to a reasonable standard.

If you still struggle to get noticed, something else is likely wrong with your applications. As mentioned before, we offer free resume evaluations at O'Byrne Executive, which would be the best way to find out what is lacking.

Either way, I hope this article helps out engineers currently looking for their next opportunity in Australia. If you have any questions, do comment below or shoot me a message on LinkedIn.

Good luck with your job applications!

Tom O'Byrne - Owner/Founder of O'Byrne Executive

How to Optimise a Professional Australian Resume/CV for Engineers (With Examples)

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