How To Get an Engineering Job? 6 Actionable Steps To Follow

engineering job

Every engineering student will have to go through this maze of finding an internship throughout their study and a graduate position after graduation. It is a struggle to find a job, especially if you do not know what to do. As a previous engineering student, I had many failed applications for jobs I applied to and never heard back. After endless attempts and learning from the right people, I have not only succeeded in getting my dream job but also gotten too many offers at once.

So how to get an engineering job? The short answer is:

You need to make a tailored resume and cover letter for the job you are applying for. This means you need to spend time learning about the company before applying. In addition, you must showcase all the experience relevant to the job in your resume, including internships, university projects and relevant skills. Finally, you must prepare for the interview to leave a positive impression of why you are a good hire for that company in the long term.

The short answer might sound familiar because the outline is very much known to many, but the detail is where everybody fails to provide. The long answer in this post is very detailed.

In this post, I will share everything about engineering job hunts and how to actually get one. No recycled tips by recruiters or industry experts that do not work. I will provide only facts because I have been an engineering student once I have been through the process and know what works and what does not.

But first, I need to tell you about my story

Like many of you, I had done two internships (Some of you have done one or non – that’s okay) before graduating, but apparently, this was not enough to just land your first graduate job.

I have failed at different stages in many applications. I paid for many online courses so that I could improve my application. Many were just recycled tips for making resumes and cover letters that never worked because they were never tailored to engineers.

However, some were useful, so I learned a few new things to help me build a powerful application. I also started exchanging a lot of information with other engineering students in my class who were applying for jobs and getting in touch with recruiters on Linkedin for tips to make my application more prominent.

And after many trials and errors, I believe I have found the secret formula to succeed in getting an engineering job because I started getting too many job offers that helped me land my dream job.

Therefore, after my success, I decided to share it. I narrowed down my success to 6 action steps.

Few things you should know about those steps

  1. The steps do not guarantee success in all positions you apply for, but they can give you a high success rate.
  2. The steps do not work by only reading them; you need to take action by making your application and practising for interviews.
  3. Those steps are not only for graduate engineers. You can use these to land your first internship or first engineering job if you have not worked in engineering right after graduation.

So let’s jump to those steps. You can use the TOC to skip to the part you want the most help with.

Table of Contents

Step 1: How To Gain an Early Engineering Experience? (First Internship)

Before I tell you how to get your first job, I need to ask you something.

What do you think of yourself?

Are you just another engineering student looking for a job because you are doing engineering and want to put that degree into good use?

Or you have a passion for engineering and are keen on getting some early experience into what feels like to be an engineer.

How you think of yourself as an engineer can help stimulate positive thinking about getting an internship. You are not just another student; no, you are an engineering student. Read Top 5 Reasons To Be An Engineer to build a positive mindset about engineering.


You should think of yourself as a brand you are trying to build by getting this first engineering experience. This is what they do not tell you about getting work experience: it is widely available, and you most certainly do not need to overthink an internship offer; just accept one because you are testing the field. If they do not give you a permanent offer after the internship, do not worry much it does not happen as often as you think.

If you want to know how to build a resume or cover letter for an internship, go to steps 2 and 3, as the process is the same. But the following are places to look for internships.

Where to look for work experience or internships?

The issue is that internships are not as heavily advertised as graduate jobs or engineering jobs because most companies do not plan to keep engineering students longer than 6 months, especially if you have not finished your course and are still learning.

Besides applying for internships on job search websites, the following are a few ways to widen your search circle:

1- Find out the top 20 companies in your industry and city

They won’t be very hard to find. For example, if you are a software engineer, you most likely have an idea of the top 10-20 tech companies available in your city. Go to their website or search on google for the company name followed by an internship program. Most top engineering companies will have internship programs, so make a list to track when those positions are open and how to apply.

2- Apply in person or by calling offices

Applying in person does not work well for engineering jobs. Still, it works well for internships because most companies do not advertise those positions as many do not consider hiring students. Find out the companies you want to work for that you think are looking for interns, prepare a resume and a cover letter and go to the receptionist’s desk and give your application.

I do not know many people who had success by calling offices, as many will ignore your call, but if you know that the place is looking for an intern, you can call to ask about the position and what skills you can expect to grow from this internship. Sometimes the person taking the call might take an interest in your call. But do not worry much if you do not see results as they do not work as it is not a very successful method.

3- Apply through LinkedIn

LinkedIn has grown into this giant network for companies and engineers. Many companies post jobs on LinkedIn these days, and many might hint at internship opportunities. You can network with recruiters and industry leaders to help you find a job.

However, the thing that usually works most is getting LinkedIn premium so you can review some company insights. In addition, InMail messages allow you to submit your cover letter and resume to people you are not connected to. The people you want to target are H.R. managers and recruiters.

When should you start applying for internships?

You should start applying for internships as soon as you finish your first year at university. You have gained some early experience and have a rough idea of your engineering course. Many think that applying for an internship should be delayed until the end of the second year, but there is a period between applying for a job and actually getting the job.

Moreover, many companies will hire students regardless of which stage they are in. Therefore, getting an internship very early can give you more time to apply for a second internship.

How to stand out in internships as an engineering student?

What is the point of an internship? If not, try to test your abilities, learn new skills and determine what you want to do after graduation.

Your goal is to discover yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. Internships will help you sharpen your skills and understand the nature of your engineering field and the different disciplines you can enter in the future.

Therefore, you should aim to do your best to learn about your engineering field. For more reading, this is a guide to How can an engineering student stand out in internships?

Step 2: How To Write a Resume That Actually Gets Your Dream Job?

Writing a resume is the most important step in getting a job. A resume needs to be eye-catching and easy to read. There is so much that goes into creating a resume, and many unspoken rules exist when writing one. The following are 4 tips you need to follow to write a successful resume, followed by what you need to include in your resume:

4 Tips for writing a successful resume

1- Page Lenght should be 2 pages max

Keep the resume at a two-page max—no need for a long resume with many pages that will just bore the reader. Unless you are applying for a very complicated and senior engineering position, a 2-page resume is all you need.

It usually takes recruiters 5-10 seconds to skim through a resume. If the resume is not formatted and optimised well, the recruiters will just drop your resume and move to the next one. Therefore, you need to optimise the resume to only include the necessary and eye-catching things.

2- Resume design

You do not need to go crazy with the resume design. This means you do not have to use colour or wild templates full of colour or designs confusing the reader. For example, below is an acceptable template you can use you can find on Canva.

The below is a template you should avoid as it is full of unnecessary colour and design that usually engineering firms do not take seriously. Plus, no one will think that you designed this as the internet is full of those templates you can find for free on canvas and elsewhere.

However, if you go with a typical, plain back and white resume that is well optimised, it usually works better than a resume with colour and an overkill design. Why? It just looks more professional, approachable and easy on the eyes.

See below a template I would recommend using that you can download for free. It is also a good resource to see the amount of detail that goes into a successful engineering resume.

3- Formatting

  • The resume title font size: which is your name, should have the largest font size; usually, a size 20 is good.
  • Heading size: Heading size should be about 14 to 16.
  • Contents font-size: Consider size 10 to 12.
  • Font style: consider Time New Roman, Arial or Calibri. Do not go too crazy with the font style; just pick something common.

3- Should you attach your transcript?

You should consider attaching your transcript and any recognised award you had during your study. Because it shows that you have done the required engineering course and also any awards you have attached to your resume, it supports your application.

If you have low marks and think you should not attach them to your application, read: When Marks In Engineering Degree Matter And When It Doesn’t.

Where to attach the transcript to your resume?

If you are applying for a graduate position, you should always attach the resume at the end after the reference section. However, if you are not applying for a graduate position, you can either put the transcript at the end of the resume or attach it to your e-portfolio if you have one.

Moreover, even if you have not completed your course, you can still attach the unofficial transcript issued by your university that shows what you completed and what is still left to complete.

4- Should you have a photo of yourself?

You do not realy have to put a photo of yourself at the beginning of the resume. Your LinkedIn profile should have a formal photo of you. You should attach your LinkedIn account under the name at the top of your resume.

What needs to go into your resume?

You can use this template as a guide to making your own resume as you read.

The following is a breakdown in order of what needs to go into your resume:

1- Personal Details

In this section, you give some information about yourself to make it easy for recruiters and employers to find you. This section is very short, and it can be something like this:

First Name + Last Name (In bold/use size 20)


Mobile: 000 000 000

LinkedIn: LinkedIn Link

These are the minimum information you must provide. You do not have to provide your address as it is kinda personal and not necessary at this stage.

You can also provide your university edu email instead of your personal email. However, a personal email will do just fine.

You must include a link to your LinkedIn. DO NOT INCLUDE OTHER SOCIAL ACCOUNTS SUCH AS FACEBOOK. LinkedIn is an engineering industry standard. If you do not have one create one, put a formal photo of yourself and connect with the people in your university as they will be the easiest to connect with.

2- Career Objective

In this section which follows your details, you give a short summary of your current position (Highest education), what you are good at and what you are looking for. This should only be 2-3 sentences. You do not have to go into detail as you will cover all of this in detail in your cover letter. The career objective should look something like this:

Example 1

Career Objective

Civil Engineering graduate from the University of Toronto, possess extensive knowledge in structural design. I interned at CompanyX, where I learned how to analyse structures using Software1 and Software2. Looking for a graduate position in a structural engineering company where I can grow my skills to become a structural engineer.

Example 2

Career Objective

Graduate Software Engineer with tremendous experience in many programming languages as I interned at Microsoft for 12 months and participated in rolling out Windows 11 updates. Looking for the opportunity to start my engineering career as a software engineer and further develop my programming skills.

3- Education History

This is a must-have on your resume. It highlights what have you accomplished academically. Even if you are still a student, you should have that on your resume as you are still attending school. You should also include your accomplishment in every course. This section should look like this:


B.E. (Hons.) in Mechanical Engineering (Jan 2019 – November 2022)

Stanford University

  • University GPA 5.8
  • Graduation Project: Design wind turbine using solid work

4- Technical Skills

In this section, you highlight your skills and everything the hiring company is looking for. The skills include engineering knowledge from university or an internship, the software you use, and other skills such as time management skills and programming languages you know. This section should look like this:

Technical Skills

Software: M.S. Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

Programming languages: C++, Python, Javascript, HTML, SQL

System: Windows, MAC OS, Linux (Red Hat, Ubuntu, Fedora)

This section does not have to be long. It just lists all the technical skills you have and are very confident in using. Even if you have intermediate experience at something, you should include it because you already have exposure to it. For example, My SQL is very limited, but I included it because I have used it before.

5- Employment Summary

This is the most important section in your resume that shows your work experience. You start with your most recent role and then down to the oldest role you have. This is your chance to show how competent you are and why you are the best fit for the job.


To tailor your resume for the job you are applying for, you need to read through the job ad and find out the skills the employer is looking for. The job ad might say something like looking for someone with a can-do attitude or able to use Microsoft excel. Your job is to take those skills the employer is looking for and turn them into actionable sentences.

The actionable sentences should start with an action word (Past tense); the following are examples of a few action words you can use:

  • Identified
  • Achieved
  • Supervised
  • Prepared
  • Ensured
  • Complied
  • Finalised
  • Assessed
  • Trained
  • Maintained
  • Programmed
  • Solved
  • Supplied

Each experience should have bullet points of what you did in this company. Those bullet points contain the action you did and what were the results of doing this action. Each job position should contain a minimum of 4 bullet points. This section should look like this:

Employment Summary

Position – Undergraduate Engineer


Jul 2020 – Nov 2022

  • Supervised 10 subcontractors for ProjectX to complete the project on time, total project value was $1.2 Million.
  • Increased team productivity to 100% by making new company procedures to help new employees quickly adapt to new positions.
  • Ensured all company projects had a minimum of 30% profit by preparing project budget and program.
  • Utilised AutoCAD to produce structural design drawings and maintained high company standards according to design code 4321.

The bullet points above show competence and skill. If the job ad mentions that you need to be good at AutoCAD, you show them that you used the software to produce drawings following specific design code.

This is how this section should be: It shows exactly what you did and what was the outcome or the tool you used to achieve it. Start with the action keyword always.

6- Projects

This section does not have to be in your resume, but if you have few work experiences, you should consider putting this section at least giving your resume some length to reach two pages. While there is nothing wrong with making a one-page resume, it might give the employer the impression that you do not have much experience to offer for this position.


In this section, you will list projects you did at your internship that had a key impact on your learning or projects you did at university that you excelled at and are relevant to the job you are applying for. This section has the name of the project you did, followed by 2-3 sentences of what the project was about and the outcome. Essentially you are trying to show how this project made you batter at something and how it benefits the job you are applying for.

This section should look like this:

Example 1

University Projects

Geotechnical Analysis Project Jul 2021

Undertaken geotechnical analysis on new development by assessing soil consistency from SPT test, design of retaining walls, strip footing, and soil settlement. Received an overall mark of 90%.

Example 2

Web design project Sep 2022

I worked on a web design project in a team of 4 where I utilised my knowledge in HTML, Javascript and C++ to write the web code. Because of this project, I became better at troubleshooting corrupted codes.

7- References

Your reference section should always be available upon request. Unless the job ad demands 2 references, you are not obligated to give any information about previous employers. References are usually requested at the final stages of the candidate selection when you have made it passed the interview.

However, you should have a reference section in your resume that states “available on request” to hint that you have references available.

How many references should you have?

You should have at least 2 references of past work experiences and one professional or personal reference. These are people you worked with before or people who know you on a professional level. Essentially your references are people who know how competent you are and can put a good word for you.

Usually, employers will only ask you for two references, so you most likely do not have to provide all of them, just your best two.

How to have people as your reference?

You have to ask them nicely by saying, “Can I have you as my reference? I believe that your reference can help showcase the projects we have worked on and my role in them. I can not think of a better person than you as my reference.”

Only ask the people who you know will put a good word for you. There is no need to ask people you have some tension with as they will not be a good asset for you.

Step 3: How To Write a Cover Letter That Gets The Recruiter’s Attention?

Now that you have learned how to make a good resume let’s make the cover letter.

But why do we need a cover letter?

Is it because it is something everyone does?

Or is it your chance to express your interest in the company and show your skills? It is obviously the latter.

This is why you should think of rewriting your cover letter every time you apply for a job, not use the same thing every time. On the other hand, you might change the career objective in your resume but should not change much elsewhere if you are applying for similar positions. However, the cover letter needs to be tailored for each job you are applying for.

How to write a cover letter?

1- Lenght and Formatting

Your cover letter should not be long and should be kept to one page only. In addition, there is no right or wrong way of how much you should fill out this page. If your cover letter is half a page, it should be enough.

As for formatting, you should stick to known font styles such as Arial or Times New Roman. Use font size 10, except for your name at the top of the page should be size 20 or 18. Finally, I would avoid using colour as the cover letter should look like a typical letter you get in the mail, easy to read.

2- What should you include in your cover letter?

This is what your cover letter should look like. Something very simple that can be read and not too long. It only has the information you want the employer to read.

Your cover letter contains three main paragraphs:

1- The Introduction: you introduce yourself, what you studied, and a brief overview of your experience and how you believe that you are the perfect candidate for this role (which is the last sentence)

2- The Body: explains why you think you are the best candidate for this position. In the above example, the job ad was about project management, so the body shows how the candidate has strong project management skills by showing the number of jobs, and the value of the jobs worked on.

3- The Conclusion: The conclusion emphasises again your main point of how you believe that you are the best pick for this position. Finally, you tell the employer that you are okay to be contracted for any question, and you are looking forward to chat, which shows assertiveness.

Step 4: How To Leave a Memorable Impression In an Interview

Interviews can be stressful and scary. This is your one shot to show the employer that you are the right pick for the job. To succeed at an interview, you need to ask yourself what the employer wants to see in you?

What is the interviewer looking for?

The interviewer is looking for 5 things:

1- Confident person that fits the company image: This is achieved by dressing well, speaking freely, not in a monotone voice and being spontaneous without needing to think much about the answer.

2- Story matches what is written in the resume: Noting is ambiguous about the story, and what you say matches the story without anything exaggeration.

3- Have an interest in the company: Have done some basic research and understand the company objective, and can ask questions about the company culture and business.

4- Possess the right technical background: Is the person applying for the job qualified or underqualified.

5- Have leadership: Every engineering position has some aspects of leadership. The best way to show your leadership is to give examples of how you handled difficult situations and how you managed other people effectively.

How to succeed at every interview?

To succeed at every interview, you need to achieve 5 things:

1- Know the company: Research the company’s history and business. There will always be a discussion about the company background during the interview.

2- Dress well: Mind your dress code. Almost all interviews require you to dress formal. If you are unsure, just wear something casual smart or something formal that you are comfortable with. However, putting on a suit is the best thing to do for an interview.

3- Prepare answers for common questions: You must be prepared for common engineering interview questions. These are questions you would likely be asked at every interview. To be well prepared, read our guide for the Top 50+ Engineering Interview Questions With Answers.

4- Prepare questions to ask the interviewer: Yes, you need to prepare questions to ask. Your goal is to turn the interview into an open discussion. This is achieved by asking questions. To ask the right questions, you should read our guide for the 50 Questions To Ask Interviewers In Engineering Interviews. Also, you should avoid certain questions during the interview. You can learn about it here: 5 Questions You Should NOT Ask In Engineering Interviews.

5- Preparing for the technical aspects of the position: Every engineering job is different, however, this is something you should prepare for when going for an interview.

Things to avoid in an interview?

Your goal in every interview is to leave a good impression of yourself as a candidate. Most often, employers will have an initial impression of you in the first 10 minutes of the interview. By the end of the interview, they most likely have determined if they want to bring you for another interview or drop your application. These are the 5 don’t in an engineering interview:

1- Do not go off-topic

When an interviewer asks you a question, you should answer according to the question. Going off-topic usually alerts the interviewer that you do not know how to answer this question and wastes their time. Even if you have something to add but seem off-topic best to leave a hint instead of going off-topic. If the interviewer is interested, they might ask you to elaborate more.

2- Do not show arrogance

No one like smart a**, and being arrogant during the interview is very off-putting to the interviewer. Being arrogant means, you disagree with the interviewer, interrupt the interviewer, or go off-topic. These are usually red flags, as the interviewer is looking for someone to be able to work and communicate with. Your attitude might cost you a job opportunity, so be mindful in the interview and avoid conflict in opinion, even if the interviewer is wrong about something.

For more help, this resource can be helpful: 5 Ways Pride Is Destroying Your Career.

3- Not asking questions at the end of the interview

You need to have a few questions ready for the interviewer. Not having questions might show that you care so little about the position.

4- Speaking in monotone and or with a low-pitched voice

Speaking in monotone or a robot voice without ups and down in your sentences is a red flag in an engineering interview. Doing so might indicate that you are not confident enough to do this job.

The best way to deal with this is to film yourself practising common engineering interview questions and watch the video back. If you feel that you are speaking like a robot, try to repeat the video, speak louder, and put more depth and ups and downs in your sentence. Speaking in a monotone voice makes it easy for the listener to misunderstand your sentences.

5- Taking too long to answer questions

There is no surprise that engineering jobs are highly competitive, and going to an interview not well prepared is not good because you are going to think about your answer. Employers won’t hire someone who is not spontaneous and engaging.

If you do not understand the interviewer’s question or do not know how to answer it, you can ask them to repeat it or rephrase it. This way, you will have more information to answer instead of awkward silent moments where you try to prepare an answer in your mind.

The different types of interviews and how to prepare

To prepare for any type of interview is to do mock interviews by filming yourself answering common engineering questions or asking a friend to be your interviewer.

As for the types of interviews, there are three: Online interviews, face-to-face interviews and video interviews. The hardest type of interview is the video interview, where you have to film yourself answering questions for one minute or two. These are hard because there is no person to speak with, and usually, the answer is timed, so you must have some answers prepared before doing the video interview.

Step 5: How To Accept a Job Offer With or Above Market Average Salary

If you made it to this stage, it means that you have made an excellent resume and cover letter, left a good impression in the interview, and now you are in the position to accept your job offer.

Now comes money talk. You want to secure the best deal for yourself and accepting job offers and discussing salary is a big negotiation game tactic.

TIP 1: In negotiating salary

Avoid discussing salary during the interview. Never mention salary or hint salary during the interview unless the employer brings that up.

Sometimes employers want to be upfront about how much they are willing to pay during the interview. Even if the salary seems too low, you should not give a response or reaction to the figure as this figure is informal. Usually, when the employer determines that you are the perfect candidate and decide to give you the job, that is when you can start negotiating salary. You can say something like this if the employer is offering you a below-average market salary:

“Thanks for the offer. However, I had some time to research the figure you were offering me for this position and determined it is below average salary. The market average is around $$$.” You can also suggest a figure a bit higher than the market average and negotiate down.

TIP 2: In negotiating salary

Avoid saying how much salary you are looking for. If employers ask you how much compensation you expect, you should know that is a trick question. Employers already have a figure in mind based on the market average for this role. Being the first person to give the figure might cost you a lot because your figure might be below what the employer is willing to pay or higher than what he is willing to pay, which can result in your application not being considered for the role.

If you are faced with this questions, you should seek to deflect the question back to the interviewer by saying:

“I have a figure in mind, but can I know how much you are willing to pay for this position?”

There is nothing wrong with being direct, and most employers will understand that you are unwilling to give up your number first. However, if you have been pressured to give a figure, make sure you give a figure higher than the average market salary, so you have room to negotiate down if the employer is not happy with your figure.

Make sure you know exactly how much your position is worth based on your location. Many salary insights websites can tell you how much your position is worth. You can also check our resources of how much every salary you should expect in every engineering field.

Step 6: Extra Things You Can Do To Boost Your Success Rate

The following are 4 things you can do to boost your application success rate:

1- Make an Engineering E-portfolio

Making an online portfolio is a great way of showing the projects you have worked on, which can be hard to explain in your resume or cover letter. If you have been applying for jobs for a while without results, then it may be time to create an E-portfolio and attach the link to your resume. If the employer is interested to know more about you, they will check this link.

If you do not know how to create a portfolio, check our guide on making an engineering portfolio: 10 Steps To Make A Successful Engineering Portfolio Website.

2- Attend conferences and workshops

If you are a university student, you probably have spare time and access to events you can attend for free. This is a great opportunity to know the big players in your engineering industry and city. You also have the opportunity to meet people and add them on LinkedIn, and network with them for career opportunities.

3- Track the jobs you applied for

If you have been applying for many jobs, you should have a list or excel sheet with a record of all the jobs you applied for in the last 6 months. This is a great way to determine if you need to follow up on your application if you have not heard back for a while, especially if you applied in person or through email and haven’t heard back in a month.

If you are applying for many jobs, it can be very easy to lose track of them, especially when you get a call from a company you applied for 6 months ago; this sheet is a great way to get the information you need very quickly.

4- Network on Linkedin

If you have read this far, you probably know by now how important LinkedIn is, especially for engineers. About 70% of the jobs are not actually advertised on job search websites.

This is because many employers look for people who can dig for those work opportunities instead of getting thousands of applications through job ads. The good thing is many of these job opportunities are advertised only on LinkedIn, so get involved in LinkedIn and grow your connections.

Common misconceptions when applying for engineering jobs?

The biggest misconception when applying for engineering jobs is that engineers feel that they do not have what it takes in terms of experience and knowledge to apply for a position. This is not true, especially if you are a graduate engineer. While engineering jobs can be hard, employers do not expect you to know everything, and most certainly, they will provide you with basic training and induction when you start your new role.

So do not feel that you will be bad for a position, especially if you have not worked in the company and are applying for a job within your field of expertise based on your experience level.

Beyond Your Engineering Job

Now the goal of getting a job besides the financial gain is to develop your skills and move to a more senior level in the future. Getting your dream job is one thing, and progressing through it is another thing. Although you might still be in the process of getting a job, this is something to keep in mind to further develop your engineering career: Moving to a higher senior level: 5 Steps to prove yourself.

Joseph Maloyan

Hi, this is Joseph, and I love writing about engineering and technology. Here I share my knowledge and experience on what it means to be an engineer. My goal is to make engineering relatable, understandable and fun!

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