If you’re reading this, you likely want to draft your first resume or update an existing one. We have tips and resources to help you develop a strong resume as an Engineering student!
Tips for creating and updating your resume
When you're developing the first drafts of your resume, you'll first want to understand these key elements of resume content and resume formatting. For the most part, your resume will resemble those of other job seekers, as employers want to see key content, like your educational background, work experiences, and skills. However, there are considerations to keep in mind for engineering and technical resumes.
Next, know your audience. If you're applying to a highly technical positon within your field of study and experience, crafting bullet points with technical language, jargon, acronyms, and details may be very appropriate! When applying to an opportunity that's more inter-disciplinary or business-oriented, consider framing technical projects or experiences in a way your audience can understand. How would you describe the experience to a friend outside of the Engineering School? Sometimes sharing the big picture can help you connect more with readers.
Another part of knowing your audience is taking the time to look at your resume side-by-side with the job description. Note frequently used words, technical and soft skills, and keywords in the job description. Look at your resume and see where you can mirror the language used in the job description. If you hear someone encourage “tailoring a resume”, they’re telling you to know your audience and tweak your “default” resume as a result.
In addition, employers want to read about your projects, including those from the classroom and others you may work on in your free time. Projects highlight your emerging technical skills and knowledge, as well as your ability to work collaboratively or independently, present your ideas effectively, and meet deadlines. And just like projects, employers want to learn about the technical skills you've developed in the classroom along with those that are self-taught. Additionally, if you’ve participated in hackathons, case competitions, or other skill and knowledge-based challenges, include them on your resume! Employers like to see that you pursue your interests outside of the classroom environment.
You’ll find sample sections for Engineering resumes, including sample bullet points, skills, and more in the UVA Engineering Resume Tips document in our Collab site. And if you'd like help with your formatting, just add your content to our sample template (join our Collab > Resources folder > Resume and Cover Letter Help > Engineering Resume Sample/Template).
Want more resume writing tips? The Hoos Career Guide provides excellent resume examples that can help improve your resume format and overall flow. And, the Career Center’s podcast Work in Progress covers Resume Myths to help you learn how to build a resume and avoid common errors.
Additional considerations – the Applicant Tracking System
Some companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to streamline the resume review and hiring process. An ATS scans and ranks all of the resumes submitted for a position at once, searching for keywords and evaluating overall content. Recruiters can then review the top-ranked resumes.
What do you need to know about how an ATS will read your resume? While attending a recent webinar, I heard:
- An ATS will catch 8 times more mistakes than humans (so review carefully for errors and format consistency).
- Both Word and PDF readable by ATS.
- In addition to your name, a cell phone and email address are sufficient contact details.
- An ATS will reject photos. In general, resumes/CVs for other countries might use a photo, but we don’t recommend including photos in the U.S.
- Most ATS can't read graphic resumes. If you have a strong reason for wanting to use one, upload it in the "additional attachment" section and submit an ATS-friendly one in the "upload resume" section.
- An ATS doesn’t tend to like columns on resumes. It’s difficult for them to remove the resume’s formatting and skim effectively for keywords. For this reason, we don’t recommend listing your skills or relevant courses in two columns or using a resume with a 2-column format, like this one. If you already use a 2-column format and like it, consider submitting an ATS-friendly version when you apply and sharing your 2-column version directly with people you’re networking and speaking with.
- An ATS will likely combine all sections that include the word “Experience” in the heading into one larger “Experience” section, which is helpful to the recruiter who will read it after it’s been evaluated. Consider labeling sections you might have now like “Projects” or “Technical Projects” with something like “Project Experience” instead.
Want to know more about the ATS?
Ask for feedback on your resume
You’ve drafted your first resume or updated an existing one. What happens next?
We recommend using at least one of several methods to ask for feedback on your resume – both its formatting and content.
First, you’ll want to check out VMock, an online resume review tool that uses data science, machine learning and natural language processing to provide instant personalized feedback. It’s free for UVA students! Simply upload a PDF of your resume to get started. Once you receive the detailed feedback, make relevant changes to the resume and upload your updated document to see the increased score.
Next, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to receive 1-on-1 feedback from a recruiter or alum! Many employers have volunteered to provide individualized feedback on your resume as the semester gets underway. If you’re interested in pursuing non-technical roles, you’ll want to participate in Resume Marathon on Wednesday, September 2 from 10am-3pm. More details will be listed in Handshake soon. In addition, our team is currently speaking with employers to host technical resume review sessions on various days between August 20 and September 4. We’ll be sure to update you on dates, times, and how to participate.
And of course, if you have additional questions after first using VMock, career advisors are available to offer personalized feedback during virtual drop-in advising hours or virtual resume review appointments. We’ll share updates on our advising schedule in the next two weeks.
Your resume is ready to go – now what?
Upload your resume to your Handshake profile so that you can easily apply to internships, jobs, share it with employers during the upcoming virtual career fair, and more. Handshake’s preferred format is PDF and it will automatically attend to convert .doc or .docx into PDF. Learn more about uploading documents to Handshake.
You’ll also want to add the elements of your resume to the sections of your Handshake profile. You can easily do this with using Handshake’s “Build Profile from Resume” feature.
And, be sure update your LinkedIn profile with the content from your resume.