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Engineering Resume tips for old worker, but new graduate

  1. Dec 17, 2016 #1


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    Hello all,

    I'm hoping I can get some advice from the hiring managers out there in the engineering world.
    My position is a bit unique in that I am nearing my graduation date for a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, but I also have over fifteen years of experience in facilities maintenance and management.
    My question to you all is this: What should I focus on within my resume? Should I highlight my educational achievements, or my work experience?
    My engineering focus is mechatronics, and I would prefer to get into something related to that field, but I believe my facilities background would give me a leg up in many other industries as well. I realize that I can (and will) list both on my resume, but my work experience tends to drown out everything else--especially if it is listed first.

    Thoughts or advice? I appreciate any input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2016 #2
    I always recommend putting whatever looks best for a given audience at the top.

    Usually making that decision requires seeing the layout in one organization and thinking about how to improve it from there.

    Depending on individual circumstances, a skills based approach may be better with only a minimum of attention given to education and work experience.

    Emphasize the things you believe will be most likely to get you hired for the job to which you are applying. A lot may relate to the reputation of your program and GPA. A 3.9 GPA in a program that is highly regarded locally should get higher billing than a 2.8 GPA at one that was only recently ABET accredited and does not yet have an established reputation.

    Your local professors can often give you better advice, because they are more familiar with the local job markets, they know your situation better than we do, and they know how their program is perceived.
  4. Dec 17, 2016 #3


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    I suppose this is the root of my question. In general, what looks best for the given audience? I realize that it is subjective, but I have no way of knowing in advance what type of person will be in charge of hiring at any given organization.

    I do currently have a 3.9 GPA but I don't believe my program is very highly regarded. It is a state university with full accreditation, but not the main branch. I don't believe that the school or professors will give me very unbiased advice on "how they are perceived."

    Again, I know this question is subjective, but I am asking it specifically to the hiring managers out their in the PF Universe and what they prefer to see in a resume. Surely there are some people here who have hired graduates that have indirect work experience?

  5. Dec 17, 2016 #4
    It depends both on the job and the material available to work with in one's background. A 3.9 GPA is impressive. If the program is ABET accredited, most employers will be more impressed by that than with pre-engineer work experience.

    But I recommend doing a background of each company you apply to for the purpose of assessing the balance of importance between your employment and educational backgrounds. If you have skills and work experience that are a better fit for a given application, that might still go on top. Try and determine the balance between blue collar and white collar attitude among the jobs for which you are applying. My home state of Louisiana has a lot of engineering jobs in plants and the oil industry where they really want white collar credentials (a BS in Engineering with a good GPA) combined with a blue collar attitude (willingness to get your hands dirty). On the other hand, my former employer, Cisco Systems, as well as a lot of engineering employers prefer a white collar attitude for their engineers. Your past work experience gives you the ability to demonstrate a blue collar attitude to employers where this is an advantage.

    I think you are mistaken in your assumption that every job you apply for has the same right answer. Even my own answers are different when hiring an engineer for my small company (blast and ballistics) than for when serving as a hiring manager for Cisco systems. Hiring managers in the oil industry have different outlooks when hiring plant or field engineers than they do for hiring engineers who are desk jockeys and more involved with approval processes and design than production.
  6. Dec 17, 2016 #5


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    That's a very interesting perspective. I hadn't considered it from a blue-collar white-collar point of view. My entire life I've been blue-collar, so I hadn't really considered a change in that viewpoint.

    Thanks. I'll keep that in mind with regards to each company I am applying for. The first resume I am getting ready to send out is for a federally operated city power plant. That is probably as white-collar as they come.

  7. Dec 17, 2016 #6


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    I don't know if this will help, but I can tell you how I tend to see and go through resumes when I'm on hiring committees. I've been on hiring committees for d various technical-professional positions in healthcare.

    To me the order of information isn't so important as whether the relevant information is obviously present and professionally presented. For a new grad, I generally expect to see the educational details first. In your case, I would probably expect to see the educational stuff first as well, because that's the most recent. Presumably that's going to be the most relevant information to the position too. If the work experience is directly related to the position it could come first, but it doesn't have to. If it's tangentially related - after. If it's not related at all - it should be on there somewhere to give a clear picture of what you've been doing (and there is almost always SOME transferrable skill set), but obviously there's no need to focus on it.

    It's important to know what qualifications are required for the position. Those are critical to have on the resume because these are what make the difference in terms of "qualified/not-qualified" sorting.

    Once I have a "qualified" pile, I look for characteristics that will stratify the candidates - specific details of their experience, skills, projects they've driven, evidence of successes they've had. This is how one goes from the "qualified" pile to the short list. In my experience the individuals on the hiring committee will tend to do this independently and then convene to compare short lists (although I'm sure this varies at other places). Candidates that are agreed on get interviews.
  8. Dec 17, 2016 #7
    That's how I've seen it go also. Sometimes there is a requirement for a score sheet to be developed and used to rate the qualifications in different areas. But the idea is the same. Committee members develop a short list from the whole stack and then meet to compare notes and decide who gets phone interviews.
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