Last month, I served as one of the ASCE Resume Workshop coaches where I review resumes of primarily ASCE Student Members and provided them with personal feedback on how they can improve their resume for the future.
Through my time as a civil engineering student and now as a young professional, my resume has undergone hundreds of iterations. Here are few key takeaways I have learned through my iterations and more recently, serving as a resume coach.
Contact Information for the 21st Century
Below your name, contact information should be right underneath. For contact information, this typically includes a professional email address, phone number, where you are currently located, and perhaps a LinkedIn URL. If you want to customize your URL please view the following link: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/87/customizing-your-public-profile-url?lang=en
For the 21st Century, you don’t need to take precious space to include your full address! A full address was more important in the past when employers had to physically mail you everything. I would still reccomend including your city and state on your resume as it will help employers know if relocation is needed.
One Page Summary of You
A resume should be a brief summary of your skills, experiences, and achievements and how they relate to the specific job you are applying for that I highly reccomend keeping at one page. (CVs on the other hand can be longer).
Here are some sections you can consider including on your resume:
- Work Experience
- Project Experience
- Skills or software
- Relevant Courses
- Extracurriculars and Leadership
- Honors and Awards
Include Quantitative Information
One of the largest sections on your resume should be summarizing your Work Experience, Project Experience, and/or your Extracurriculars and Leadership depending where you are in your journey.
Work experience or internships, if possible, should be tailored to the specific position you are applying for. For each position, make sure these are in the correct tense (past tense for past roles and present tense for roles you are currently in). For position descriptions, try to keep to no more than two lines per bullet point. Here are a few questions to consider when writing these bullet points:
- What did you bring to the table and how did it impact the project as a whole?
- What software did you use?
- What were the results or deliverables?
Try to be as concise as possible – most high value people can communicate things with less words and sentences – so showing this through your resume can definitely help you score an interview!
For those about to start a summer internship or co-op, a tip you can use here is that when you are nearing the end of an internship or co-op, put a draft together and ask your supervisor to review and provide feedback. Just make sure that you give your supervisor ample time to review (I personally think 3 weeks is a good time frame)!
If you do not have relevant experience and are looking for your first internship, talk about your project experience through your engineering coursework or your passion project! As you will see on one of my early resumes from college, I included my job as a cashier at ACME as I learned many interpersonal skills through that job.
Check Before You Send
*Cue Music* IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!
Before you submit or print your resume out, here are a few check you can go through.
- Take a step back from your computer (or your printed resume) and see how it visually looks as a whole. You want your resume to look clean and organized, and that can be negatively affected if you try to include too much.
- In terms of formatting, I would also consider the following:
- Are the dates you list consistent? (06/2020 vs. June 2020)
- Do you have any spelling mistakes or incorrectly used words? (For example, as a bridge engineer who is also wedding-planning, “bride” is a common word for me right now and is not a spelling error, but not relevant on my resume. Pro tip: you can use the Read Aloud function in Microsoft Word to catch these types of mistakes.)
- Are you being consistent in formatting with fonts, heading styles, indentation, and the way you use italics or bolding throughout your resume?
- Digital submission specific, here are some further considerations to keep in mind:
- Unless the job application indicates otherwise, I recommend that you submit your resume as a PDF. This will ensure that the recipient can view it with the formatting you intended no matter what operating system or software they use to open it.
- Use your name and the position for which you are applying in the file name. For example: “Danielle_Schroeder_Project_Manager.pdf” in case recipients do not print it out and view it digitally, instead of seeing a sea of “Resume.pdf” in their downloads folder.
- Try to also have a friend, peer, or mentor also take a quick review of your resume before you submit as they may catch a spelling error or format issue that you may have missed.
Your resume is a clear, concise self-summary that will hopefully lead you to the next step – the interview process!
I am including one of my early resumes below as an example of what I was using in my second year of college.
What I would change now if I were to re-write my resume:
- Take off my full address and just include my city and state.
- Update my objective statement to Sophomore civil engineering student seeking a co-op position in highway-related field beginning in March 2016 through September 2016.
- This not only explains when my next co-op cycle was (or the next time you are available for an internship), but also communicates that I am more interested in the highway part of the civil engineering.
- Use the right align for the “Honors and Activities” section like I did with sections above to balance my resume more.
- Add relevant versions to my software skills – i.e. AutoCAD 2020
I would love to hear from you! What else would you change about my resume?
Other Resume Resources:
- For further improving your experience bullet points, I recommend reading the following ASCE Article, specifically the section about “Telling, not showing” to help with writing your bullet points: https://collaborate.asce.org/careerbydesign/blogs/stephanie-slocum1/2020/03/05/top-7-mistakes-civil-engineers-make-on-resumes
- Applicant Tracking System– friendly free resumes (larger civil engineering companies may use this): https://www.jobscan.co/blog/20-ats-friendly-resume-templates/
Hope this helps you to create or update your resume! Please do not hesitate to email or message me on social media any questions that you have about resumes.