Resume content and length

For engineering students, your resume should be no longer than one page.  Keep it simple.  See the post-titled Engineering resume 1 for resume formatting recommendations.  In the rare case that you had extensive work experience prior or during college, there may be a circumstance where more than one page is acceptable for a college student but very rarely.  Be sure to include all of your extracurricular activities on your resume, especially those in the engineering-related societies and clubs.

For those engineers who are in the first 5 to 10 years of your career, it is perfectly acceptable to have a resume that is multiple pages.  You probably want to have something that’s about 2 or 3 pages.  You want to include as much detail as you can about projects that you have worked on or managed including your responsibilities, the budget, number of team members/consultants involved, timeframe, etc. As opposed to a college student, your work experience should be at the top of your resume above education.

For those engineers that have been working for over 10 years, you may have a resume that is even longer, maybe 5 to 10 pages.  I’ve actually seen longer than that!  Similar to a younger engineer, the resume should include details for all of the projects you have worked on/managed. 

You should also include a section on non-billable activities that you are responsible for.  Non-billable activities that prospective employers might be interested in seeing include mentoring younger engineers, proposal preparation, billing, business development, and marketing activities.

So how do you ensure that your resume doesn’t exceed the lengths described above?  Here are some tips for keeping your resume at a reasonable length:

•       Remove the objective.  This is something that hiring managers have told me is perfectly okay.  Why?  They tell me that everyone has the same objective – to get a job!  Therefore, they don’t spend a lot of time, if any, reading it.

•       You do not have to put references available upon request on the bottom of your resume.  This is now understood, however you should have a list of references prepared to give a prospective employer in an interview.

•       List only the projects/experience on your resume that are relevant to that position.  I always tell engineers that they should have a different resume for every job they are applying for.  This will allow you to select only the projects that are applicable to that specific job description.  Not only will this cut down the size of your resume but it will present you as a better fit for that specific job.

•       You can decrease your margin size slightly, as long as the overall appearance is still neat and readable.

•       Have a colleague proofread it and ask them what information really stands out to them and which information isn’t interesting.  Their advice may help you to remove some extraneous information

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Kenya Engineer is the definitive publication of Engineers in East Africa & beyond and the official journal of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya. Kenya Engineer has been in publication since 1972.

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