As an engineer, your key design parameter is SPEED – if your resume cannot hook the reader’s interest in six seconds or less, it’s doomed. In other words, the reviewer makes a snap decision to “pass” or “trash” based on an initial impression based on the first seconds of a quick “eyeballing.”

I’m not saying this is a fair assessment of your potential value to a company – but it’s reality.

In fact, six seconds is a very long time. If you’re perusing a stack of 50 resumes, six seconds is a relatively long time. I invite you to test this for your self – pick up a sheaf of papers and drop them into a trash can one-by-one. You can eyeball each page in a few seconds, and that’s how recruiters and hiring managers “read” your resume on first pass.

“We get hit with about 2000 resumes every time we post a new position online,” said Christine Keeler, a an HR executive at Microsoft (as quoted in USA Today.”

So your goal is to make a very positive impression in the first seconds. First prerequisite, make your resume easy to read. When you check the samples in this section on engineering resumes, you’ll see that each elemement – each paragraph, each bullet, each job description – everything is broken down to a “bite sized” element that is easy to digest.

Your second most-important strategy for the engineering resume is organization. Make it very easy to follow. You do that by organizing your information into a simple, easy-to-follow hierarch of headlines and subheadings.

We’ve all seen the laboratory experiments that force a mouse to run through a maze. That is a close analogy for your engineering resume: Imagine the recruiter is a rodent trying to find the exit as quickly as possible. If the recruiter gets lost in your maze, the six-second timer goes ding! – you lose.

The third strategy is “success story.” Don’t splatter a bunch of bullet points on your engineering resume and expect anybody to be impressed. If you solved a difficult problem, say that! Show some background, show what actions you took and – most important of all – show how your actions made a contribution to the company.

On most engineering resumes, the writers tend to get lost in technical details. Save all that for the peer-to-peer interview. For resume, show the big picture – show the results you produced. That’s the only way potential employers can guage your usefulness to them.

Finally, be sure to spell out all of the technical and industry-specific words, phrases, and jargon – always spell out an acronym the first time you use it. For example, an IC design engineer might refer to a phase locked loop (PLL) – you spell out the term and then you put the acronym in quotes. Be sure to do that on the first instance. Many people will “eybeball” your resume along the path to your interview, so be sure your resume is reasonably clear to everybody. Save the jargon for the interview.

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