How to create an impactful CV

Author: Geoff Hunt MIStructE and Dr Monika Brindley

Date published

31 August 2023

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How to create an impactful CV

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Author

Geoff Hunt MIStructE and Dr Monika Brindley

Date published

31 August 2023

Author

Geoff Hunt MIStructE and Dr Monika Brindley

Learn how to create an effective CV that will stand out from other students and early professionals entering the workforce.

Crafting a compelling resume is essential for structural engineering students entering the job market. Your resume serves as a marketing tool that showcases your skills, education, and experiences to potential employers. 

Geoff Hunt, Arup Group’s Commercial Director, and Dr Monika Brindley, Senior Asset Engineer at Network Rail, share their go-to CV advice for engineering students and early professionals entering the workforce.
 
Tailor your CV for the role you are applying for. 

With hundreds of applicants for the same role, your CV may be run through an auto-sift process looking for essential keywords before being seen by a human. This makes it crucial that your resume ticks all the boxes for the role, which can be done by customising your CV for each job application. Include keywords from the job description where they are applicable and highlight your specific skills and experiences that match the requirements of the role. This demonstrates to employers that you have taken the time to understand their needs and possess the necessary qualifications for the position, strengthening your chances of moving on to the next round. 

 

How to stand out from other applicants 

When applying for placements and jobs early on in your career, most graduates have comparable experience and therefore look similar on paper. While sometimes this can’t be avoided, there are still some key ways exist to stand out from the masses. Monika shared that she seeks “membership in a professional body, such as IStructE or ICE”, as it shows commitment to the profession and your desire to stay current on industry innovations.  

Include your leadership experience on and off campus, with statistics to quantify your contribution. If you help manage a club at university, how many people are members? How often do you meet? Did you manage a budget? Further, you can tell the recruiter more about you as a person by highlighting your interests outside of work and academics. Sharing a fun detail about yourself, such as a scuba diving certification or pilot's license, shows you are a well-balanced individual with passion and commitment while leaving a memorable impression on the recruiter. 

 

Formatting your CV 

When creating your CV, choose a simple, professional resume format that effectively highlights your information. Use clear headings, bullet points, and consistent formatting throughout the document. Ensure that the font is legible and appropriate for professional use. As most resumes are now read on a computer, make sure your important information and experiences sit on the top half of the page, visible when opened by a PDF reader. Monika’s go-to advice? “To err on the safe side, it is best to avoid including photographs and use the space strategically to showcase skills and attributes, as well as ask at least one person to read your CV and provide feedback before distributing.” You may have to upload your information into a predetermined format from the company, so make sure you allow preparation time to do this. 

 

Keep your objective statement brief 

Begin your resume with a compelling summary or objective statement that describes your career goals, relevant skills and experience, and what you can bring to the employer. You want to make sure your summary is brief, but as Geoff shared, “not brevity to the point where you are unable to share your point, but don’t use three words when just one will do”. Very few people will be a perfect fit for the needs of the role, but this is a critical section to align yourself with the job requirements, emphasising your strengths and unique qualifications for the role.
 

Additional Advice?
  • Only apply for jobs you have a genuine interest in. You can't fake passion, and if you aren't invested in the work this becomes apparent in the interview stage.

  • You have to be yourself, don’t write anything in your application that you can’t explain or aren’t prepared to be questioned about.

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