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Engineering resumes: Why you shouldn't get too technical

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Have you ever considered your audience when writing your resume? Many professionals I know don't even think about it!

There's this impression that the employer/recruiter is some monolithic entity when in fact, that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Large companies often have teams of recruiting personnel and more often than not, the person that reviews your resume (at least initially) will not have the technical background required to fully understand the finer details of what you do.

For example, consider the two bullets below:

  • Implemented an embedded system to control an E-puck robot in C++.

Now consider this version:

  • Wrote a program in C++ that allowed E-puck education robot to imitate emotions including aggression, fear, sadness, and happiness.

If you're a recruiter reading the first bullet, you have a limited understanding of the task (i.e., what is an embedded system?). The second bullet gives a more simplified explanation of the task to someone without a technical background.

For technical professionals such as scientists and engineers, it becomes essential then to consider the audience and their technical capacity - most recruiters or HR staffers will not be able to understand complex technical concepts so it's critical to break down your responsibilities into a more easily digestible format.

Assume your reader has little technical background

Don't assume that readers will understand technical terminology or even role-specific acronyms. Acronyms such as GUI (graphical user interface) or IDE (integrated development environment) may be obvious to you, but your reader may have no clue what they mean. Engineering resume writing services.

Don't assume - spell them out! Doing this will ensure that the information you've worked hard to convey is actually well-received on the other end.

Don't focus on minute technical details

Consider the two bullets below:

  • Installed MapReduce, HIVE, HDFS; and deployed CDH3 Hadoop cluster on CentOS.

  • Deployed Big Data platforms including MapReduce and Hadoop, thereby improving the company's analytics capabilities.

In the first bullet, the focus is on technical tasks that only a developer would understand. The impact of these tasks on the business is unknown.

In the second bullet, the task is translated into an understandable format with clear business impacts.


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Why is this important?

Companies aren't just looking for foot soldiers that can complete tasks along a production line. The complex nature of these fields means that companies are always in need of people that not only have a solid understanding of the subject matter but can also interface with non-technical stakeholders within and outside the company.Engineering resume writing services.

Engineering managers, whether they be in software, mechanical, or some other complex field meet with clients, business owners, and senior decision-makers within their own companies.

If they can't communicate and translate technical information into formats that can be understood by their peers, they're in trouble. This often results in failures at multiple points along a project's lifecycle, leading to incorrect execution of scope, over-budget, and exceedance of the predetermined timelines.

What does this have to do with you and your resume? Being able to demonstrate that you can convey complex technical information in an easy-to-understand manner at the outset will help set you apart from your peers.


What can Final Draft Resumes do for you?

We offer tailor-made resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn content development services designed to align with your unique mix of work history, skills, successes, and career goals. Engineering resume writing services.

Check out the full suite of services we offer:

  • Entry to midlevel professionals with less than 10 years of experience

  • Established professionals with over 10 years of experience

  • Executive professionals such as CEOs, VPs, and directors


About the Author

James Cooper is a Professional Resume Writer, member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) and has been in the recruiting, career coaching, and writing business for almost 14 years. He began his career recruiting for AECOM, a Canadian engineering firm, and he's gone on to work with and help professionals land roles at top Fortune 500 companies.

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Haven't been getting the results you want with your current resume? Check out the Resume Writer's Handbook, an A to Z guide to writing a compelling resume.

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