There are lots of best practice guidelines you should follow when creating or refining an engineering CV and cover letter. One tip that will improve both documents, however, is to add personality to them.
Showing hard skills is an essential requirement of any CV but this can be easier to summarise as it includes the experience you have, your qualifications, the results you have achieved etc. Showing your personality is more difficult but it can set you apart from other candidates and grab the attention of the reader.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Business Post, Keith Moran, Managing Director of SL Controls, said you should go the extra mile when creating your CV and cover letter.
“Also make sure that your personality comes out in the CV, mentioning your hobbies and interests,” he said. “I find that a very good cover letter is a great way to let your personality stand out.”
How Do You Add Personality to Your Engineering CV and Cover Letter?
- Talk about your professional passions. For example, what gets you excited, motivated, and enthused? Why do you like working in your current engineering field or what attracts to a new field? What technologies, processes, industry best practices etc are you enthusiastic about? Who or what in your industry inspires you? These are all questions that can help you add personality to your cover letter. You don’t have to explicitly state: “I am passionate about…”. Instead, you should weave in phrases and words that convey your opinions and feelings.
- You should also talk about non-professional things you are passionate about. This could be volunteer work, a committee, a project, or team you are involved in, a hobby, a sport etc. In other words, don’t just list a few things you like such as reading, travel, and playing football. It is more about talking about the things that really interest you and then, ideally, linking them back to your professional life. For example, how you developed management or financial skills in a volunteer role for an organisation you support or a sports club you are involved in.
- Write your cover letter in a professional yet conversational tone that is not overly formal. Remember, it is not a business document that you should write in the third-person. Rather, it is a message directly from you to the reader, whether that is the recruiter, department manager, CEO, etc. The cover letter should be tailored to the position and company you are applying for. One cover letter will not fit all roles!
- Avoid business jargon where possible, particularly in your cover letter or the profile summary section in your CV. A good example is “results-oriented”. This and phrases like it are often overused so are best avoided. If you believe you are results-oriented, try to express this in another way. You want to stand out with unique skills.
- Try to tell a story in your CV rather than list positions and main responsibilities. Adding some key achievements and projects to this information along with an opening profile summary will make it more relatable.
- Don’t be afraid to be yourself. There is sometimes a tendency to use a CV and cover letter to create a persona that is different from the reality. An example is writing in an overly formal and rigid way when you are never like that in real life. You must always come across as polished and professional but do so while being yourself.
Adding personality to your engineering CV and cover letter is only one part of the job hunting/career advancement process but doing so can make your application stand out from the rest.