on September 13th, 2021

When compiling your professional resume or curriculum vitae (CV), merely printing your credentials on thicker paper won’t make it stand out. When you put some extra thought and attention into the content and your personal marketing, printing it on standard A4 paper will not only do the job, but it can land you a job as well.

But what should a great  entail? Here are some ways to beef up your job application, with input from the experts.

Engineers and Science Graduates Should Approach CVs Differently

While different degrees, like the arts for instance, does give license to be more creative, engineering graduates also need to think about specific ways to make their CV stand out according to Preparing a Good CV, a short guide that was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

In the information piece Bruce Doddridge, head of the Chemistry and Dynamics Branch in the Science Directorate at the NASA Langley Research Centre approached CV compilation from the perspective of those with science qualifications.

He highlights six aspects of what good CVs in the field need.

  1. CVs need to be organized, lucid, and have a natural flow from beginning to end.
  2. It needs to be formatted in a way that is consistent and not confusing.
  3. It needs to be error-free (and especially correct and factual when it comes to science or research in the field).
  4. A CV needs to be accurate and not embellished. No waffling on about personal experiences.
  5. For STEM graduate’s CV length needs to be two or three pages, with an abbreviated one-page resume for quick digest that can be handed out at meetings for instance.
  6. Personal and professional strengths should be highlighted. This includes leadership in societies or clubs, even those that have nothing to do with the job you are applying for. 
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Doddridge has seen his share of CVs and he makes mention that there are small things that stand out to him. For instance, marks or results that improve annually that are reflected in a graduate’s CV are positive, instead of someone that just received the same marks or results year on year. 

He calls this ‘positive discriminators’ where things that often seem like they might be bad, turns into positive signs of an applicant’s character. Some of the discriminators he looks for are people who learn from mistakes, applicants that show flexibility and manages to do different things as well as broadened experiences. 

It means your time in a service position at a restaurant does have value when applying at an engineering firm. Importantly Doddridge mentions that balance between work and personal life as well as leadership are often some of the most important aspects to look out for.

These make a big difference in finding applicants that can manage themselves, coworkers, but also not get discouraged in their lives outside of work.

Learn how to write resumes and CVs

For new graduates, it might seem insane that they might have to learn another skill, like writing a resume, but according to LinkedIn, it’s almost mandatory in 2021.

The professionals’ social media juggernaut compiled an analysis of the 2021 job market and suggested that free courses, as well as training in CV writing, are some of the most effective means to land a new job.

Their Jobs on the rise 2021 list for 2021 includes their Top 5 tips to get hired, but it is the Resume Makeover with LinkedIn Learning Instructor Jenny Foss that offers valuable tips to make a simple resume stand out from its peers.

Her course offers helpful videos that dig deep into the basics. The course, for instance, helps users to recognize shortfalls in their resumes, how to condense previous experience and how to turn a resume into a marketing document. For the newcomer interview tips and also ways to address gaps in your resume are covered.

Courses like this can sometimes be accessed freely when signing up to a new website, and LinkedIn remains one of the go-to professional websites for job seekers and employers.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Don’t be scared of tech or social media

Starting with LinkedIn, the company last year made a massive change for job seekers by introducing a video element to members’ profiles. Considering the switch to online mediums during Covid-19 the function helps job seekers to introduce themselves within the realm of digital workplaces.

According to LinkedIn the need to adapt to virtual hiring of new staff the new Video Intro Feature a hiring manager can request video or even written words from a potential candidate.

These videos are structured to make sure HR departments can see relevant skills while candidates can introduce themselves. Importantly, by uploading these videos candidates also show added skills to comply with changes in the hiring process which heightens their chance to be seen as viable new employees. 

LinkedIn also rolled out AI-powered feedback for job seekers to practice their interview skills. With it, members can record a practice round of an interview, before being assessed. The AI system gives feedback on pacing, words, and phrases to avoid and even over-used words during the mock interview.

What the engineers say

EIT’s Dean of Engineering, Steve Mackay, gives a more personal account of what to consider when approaching your CV as an engineer. 

“What I believe is utterly important is a short hard-hitting resume focusing on real practical outcomes. An undue emphasis on qualifications which do not tie in with concomitant experience is worthless,” he says.

According to Steve, he believes employers in today’s world are looking for real outcomes when it comes to engineering staff, and that means people with responsibilities and a showing of completed projects.

“Leadership and responsibility are important gauges of an outstanding candidate,” he adds.

The personal touches are also important, and these can be included, or come to light when approaching a potential employer.

“I also look for evidence of a contribution from a would-be candidate in terms of community engagement or charity work. And some unusual hobbies such as mountain hiking through the Drakensberg with a pal from Vladivostock or walking along the Skeleton Coast with my donkey for three weeks and encountering a bewildering sand storm that lasted for two solid days.”

Ten Tips quick for a great CV and resume

Ali Yahya Jirjees, a petroleum engineering-Assistant lecturer at Kirkuk University, created a reference list that all engineers can look at when starting to compile their CVs or resumes.

These general tips serve as almost definitive advice that should be standard when approaching new job opportunities. The Top 10 tips to keep in mind according to Yahya Jirjees is;

  1. Your CV is a marketing tool, so do that, market yourself. This means pick what information you include, and what not to include.
  2. CVs need to be clear and concise. Recruiters scour through a lot of documents, and it’s to your benefit when they can find information easily.
  3. If there are gaps in your employment or education history you need to explain them pro-actively.
  4. Always be honest. You cannot lie or give false information, and it could even get you fired from your new job if the information you gave your employer is inaccurate.
  5. Use spell checker software, or get someone to give your CV another look. There should be no spelling or grammatical errors.
  6. Ask someone neutral to review your document before you hit send.
  7. The details you provide could help potential employers formulate your interview, so know what you’re sending always.
  8. You need to always be able to say why you left your previous employment.
  9. CVs should be two pages minimum and three pages maximum.
  10. Do not include your current salary details. 


Carter, Kristy & Alland, Joshua & Drager, Aryeh & Hitchcock, Stacey & Nielsen, Erik. (2017). Preparing a Good CV. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

LinkedIn, 2021. Jobs on the rise 2021. . [online] Available at: https://news.linkedin.com/2021/january/jobs-on-the-rise-2021 (Accessed 3 September)

LinkedIn, 2020. LinkedIn announces video intro and AI-powered interview feedback. [online] Available at:  https://news.linkedin.com/2020/april/linkedin-announces-video-intro-and-ai-powered-interview-feedback (Accessed 3 September)

Yahya Jirjees, Ali. (2019). How to create curriculum vitae (CV). 10.1097/IJ9.000000000000003. [online] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332268166_How_to_create_curriculum_vitaeCV/citation/download (Accessed 3 September)

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