Dear Colleagues

I was somewhat surprised when my astute sister-in-law indicated that before she dates someone new she does a Google search and checks out his profile. Most of us leave some sort of electronic footprint on the internet today - who we are and what we do. Interestingly, many criminals and rip-off merchants (mainly white-collar )  spend fortunes altering search patterns, to ensure good stuff is placed up on the web in order to swamp the true, but unpleasant things written about them.

Criminals aside, it is important to ensure that your web representations and electronic resumes are accurate and positive. This is relevant when working for a firm selling your engineering services - as part of their overall package, or simply to promote yourself for future career opportunities. Printed, personal resumes (CVs) and company documentation don’t carry as much weight as a well-engineered web presence.

My advice is to work actively on your personal profile in terms of your professional engineering background. This doesn’t have to be a full blown blog site or your own web page. But it should be a good summary of who you are and what you do. The evidence provided should support your strengths and achievements and be devoid of inconsistencies. Increasingly, recruiters for jobs short list candidates for a job and do an internet search to confirm backgrounds. Indeed, even potential clients looking for a company’s services will do a search for a critical engineer or engineering supervisor’s background to get a better understanding of the firm’s competencies and background. More and more, recruiters and clients are stalking you (and your firm) electronically on the web - the their searches ends with an individual’s profile set out electronically on the web.

Here are a few suggestions when constructing your web presence and electronic resume:

Skills, experience and education: Detail the specific skills and competencies that you have achieved. Do not give a vague job description. You are either an experienced instrumentation engineer or technician (or C++ programmer) or not. Use verb phrases for short, punchy descriptions. Provide specific job titles and roles. Support your education details with recent and specific competency-based training courses that you have attended – these should relate to your work, with the demonstrated benefits clearly outlined.
 
Photos: Smaller is better - professionally produced in .jpeg or .gif formats.

Font and layout: Technical types will often consider this irrelevant, but ensure that the font you use is one which is widely used (so that it can be printed out on any printer) and is easily readable (on both a computer screen and on paper). Times New Roman comes to mind as a perhaps boring, but widely supported font. The actual resume should be short and powerful (so don’t blow out the size with a gigantic type font).

Key word ‘searchability’: Finally, design all your documents for ease of key word ‘searchability’. This is a fairly new issue, but vital for success. Due to the volume of information confronting people today search engines are often used to locate key phrases or words. If you are putting your documents up on the web, ensure better  indexed results by repeating the key words a few times (say, four or five times) in the first few paragraphs of your document. To enhance the ‘searchability’, use terms related to what you do - Electrical Design Engineer and. Building Design, for example. Include the specific software design packages you have used. 

Consistency and coherency: Ensure that your resume and supporting information is written in a consistent style. The materials should relate to your professionalism, experience and competency. It is not a bad idea to have your resume placed together with other similarly successful engineering professionals with good backgrounds – particularly if you are working together.

Organisation of resume: There are different ways of organising your resume. In listing your activities in date order is by far the most common. This is effective when listing employment experience and is comforting to an employer who is looking for the traditional approach in a resume.

Other organising approaches link skills and experience; employment and education, reference listings and links to other organisation web pages. Remember, when providing excellent links to other pages, you risk ‘losing’ your readers to other web sites.

Supporting resources: Some engineering professionals provide extracts from books and documents that they have written. I viewed a particularly impressive resume recently. Whilst the resume itself was succinctly put together, it included excellent summaries of projects undertaken (with pictures) and it included the projects clearly demonstrated results. Furthermore, he had added cleverly selected photos of his personal endeavours (such as the travails of sea kayaking in rather wintry looking seas).

This discussion is not about discarding your printed resume; but about emphasising the need for a strong web presence. A well constructed resume (especially on a web site) will draw potential employers by creating more traffic. This will enable you to sell your skills more effectively and at a higher rate.

I really do believe what Charles Schwab says about successful employers:

All successful employers are stalking men who will do the unusual, men who think, men who attract attention by performing more than is expected of them.

Thanks to the IEEE Today web site for some thought provoking reading.

Yours in engineering learning

Steve

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is dedicated to ensuring our students receive a world-class education and gain skills they can immediately implement in the workplace upon graduation. Our staff members uphold our ethos of honesty and integrity, and we stand by our word because it is our bond. Our students are also expected to carry this attitude throughout their time at our institute, and into their careers.