How to Differentiate Yourself in Today's Engineering Job Market

Today, engineering jobs are much harder to come by because of intense competition among well-qualified candidates. That's why you must differentiate yourself from the crowd. Here are a few real-life examples of engineers with whom I worked who have recently done exactly this.

Long gone are the days when an engineer could simply send a resume and get three or four interviews. I remember when I graduated in 2000, I had seven different engineering companies that made me job offers. That's why you need new tactics.

Provide Testimonials, Not Just References

You should always have a list of references ready to provide prospective employers, but everyone has that, so that's nothing new. However, to stand out, in addition to a list of references, include a testimonial page in your resume package. This would be one page that lists a few testimonials from past employers discussing your performance.

For example, include a comment by someone, such as, "Anthony is a very detailed engineer who produces high-quality design documents on a consistent basis." This is an immediate credibility boost, and you can add the phone number of the person giving the testimonial next to their name for yet more credibility. One engineer I recently worked with did this, and the supervisor at the prospective employer really liked it and said he had not seen this before from other applicants.

Hand-Deliver Your Resume

One engineer I recently worked with was applying to engineering companies geographically near his residence. When we started talking about submitting his resume to the companies and I found out how close these companies are to his house, I recommended that he hand-deliver the resumes.

He ended up doing so, and this strategy worked beautifully. The administrative assistant in the office ended up talking to him for a while and introducing him to her boss, and the engineer ended up getting an interview from the conversation.

Provide Sample Design Documents

Another method of differentiation, which was used successfully by two of our Institute for Engineering Career Development members, is presenting a portfolio of your work.

One of our members assembled some sample design plans from recent projects that he worked on and presented them during an interview. Another one of our members actually created a sample problem similar to the prospective employer's projects and solved it. He presented the solution and all of the backup. In both cases, the engineers were offered jobs and accepted them.

There is no standard procedure for the engineering job search these days. You have to be creative and figure out ways to help you stand out from the crowd. I hope these recommendations help you to do so, and if you have any other strategies that have worked for you, please share them by leaving a comment below.


Anthony Fasano, PE, is a civil engineer, engineering career coach, and bestselling author. He is the author of Engineer Your Own Success and founder of the Institute for Engineering Career Development, where he helps engineers create fulfilling careers every day. Visit for free career development advice.

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