Technical Resume Writing Tips

Putting together an effective resume for a quality engineering or NDT position requires a slightly different approach than a “normal” resume. Technical consulting firm Taos Mountain recommends the following steps in assembling your technical resume:

List your technical knowledge first.
Your technical strengths must stand out clearly at the beginning of your resume. Before your resume reaches its intended reviewer, it’s often categorized by an administrative clerk, or scanned and searched by key word. Therefore, make sure to list as many directly relevant buzz words as you can, which reflect your knowledge and experience. Make it obvious at a glance where your strengths lie.

List your qualifications in order of relevance, from most to least.
Only list your degree and educational qualifications first if they are truly relevant to the specific job opening. You don’t need to strictly adhere to a chronological ordering of your experience.

Begin sentences with action verbs.
Portray yourself as someone who is active, uses their brain, and gets things done. Stick with the past tense, even for descriptions of currently held positions, to avoid confusion.

Don’t sell yourself short.
This is by far the biggest mistake of all resumes, technical and otherwise. Your experiences are worthy for review by hiring managers. Treat your resume as an advertisement for you. Be sure to thoroughly “sell” yourself by highlighting all of your strengths. If you’ve got a valuable asset that doesn’t seem to fit into any existing components of your resume, list it anyway as its own resume segment.

Be concise.
Try to keep resumes reflecting five years or less experience to one page. More extensive experience can justify using a second page. Consider three pages (about 15+ years experience) an absolute limit. Don’t add lengthy descriptions of whole projects in which you only played a part. Consolidate action verbs where one task or responsibility encompasses other tasks and duties. Minimize usage of articles (the, an, a) and never use “I” or other pronouns to identify yourself.

Omit needless items.
Leave all these things off your resume: social security number, marital status, health, citizenship, age, scholarships, irrelevant awards, irrelevant associations and memberships, irrelevant publications, irrelevant recreational activities, a second mailing address (“permanent address” is confusing and never used), references, reference of references (“available upon request”), travel history, previous pay rates, previous supervisor names, and components of your name which you really never use (i.e. middle names).

Have a trusted friend review your resume.
Be sure to pick someone who is attentive to details, can effectively critique your writing, and will give an honest and objective opinion. Seriously consider their advice. Get a third and fourth opinion if you can.

Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Be sure to catch all spelling errors, grammatical weaknesses, unusual punctuation, and inconsistent capitalizations. Proofread it several times over at least two days. It takes a fresh eye to catch hidden mistakes.

Keep it clean and simple.
Laser print your resume on quality plain white paper. Handwriting, typing, and dot matrix printing are definitely out. If you must use an inkjet printer, select the highest quality output. Don’t waste money on special paper, matching envelopes, or any color other than plain white. Your resume will be photocopied, faxed, and scanned numerous times, defeating any special paper efforts, assuming your original resume doesn’t first end up in the circular file.