5 Accomplishments to Make Your Civil Engineer Resume Stand Out

If you google "civil engineer resume template", you'll find a lot of resume models filled with roles and responsibilities such as:

  • Created and modified details and specifications for each individual project while adhering to any county and state standards.
  • Coordinate with Asset Management and O&M to define form and function of civil works for new wind, solar and pump-storage hydro plants during conceptual design.
  • Select plant sites and develop facility configuration and layout.
  • Designed site improvements, grading and drainage, and a riprap levee in the [river].
  • Responsible for civil designs of roadways associated with new bridge and existing bridge rehabilitation projects.
  • Performed civil designs of various public highway projects including storm drain and retention systems.

That seems about right, no? But there's a problem. A huge problem, actually. Think of the civil engineers that you know. How many of them have done similar things? Probably most of them. Because that's pretty much what being a civil engineer is all about. There are differences here and there, but roles and responsibilities will often overlap. So if your resume is very close to a typical "civil engineer resume template", how is that helping you get interviews? After all, the best resumes are distinctive. They make you stand out, not blend in! So here's a little something to help you make your resume stand out. It's based on the 3 Laws of Resume Writing. And it's not material that I made up. I found it by carefully studying good civil engineer or structure engineer resumes.

5 Civil Engineer Accomplishments to Make your Resume Distinctive

  1. Managed projects of up to $220,000 and totaled about $1,300,000 in gross income during tenure.
  2. Oversized materials were reused as fill material within the excavation, reducing both disposal costs and imported backfill costs. Excavation and backfill activities were completed without affecting rail service despite the fact that 40 percent more contaminated material was excavated than originally planned.
  3. Managed a team of 3 engineers and 3 draftsmen in structural design of heavy civil industrial projects.
  4. Consulting on difficult engineering problems for more than 400 projects: office buildings, hotels, stadiums, apartment complexes and industrial buildings.
  5. As Civil discipline task leader, performed alignment, grading design, drainage design, contract drawings development and cost estimate. This $28M project was completed on a short deadline of 5 months, which included last minute out of scope add-ons.

The benefit is the key component of each accomplishment: improved operations, more money, demonstrated leadership and reliability, ... Accomplishments like these are the most critical pieces of your resume. Now read that last sentence again, because that's the best resume advice you'll get this month.

If you're a fantastic employee but your resume is silent on many of your accomplishments, you'll end up behind a good employee whose accomplishments are all clearly laid out. And for that matter, an average employee with weak accomplishments better know how to network, since the resume alone won't pull its weight. (Actually, networking skills are critical to everyone's job hunt. But let's stick with the topic, if you don't mind.) Accomplishments are where it's at. When you solve a problem, reduce costs, make something better/simpler/faster, when you show initiative, it has to be on your resume, without being drowned out by too many roles and responsibilities (i.e. the "we've-all-done-it" resume template material).

In my view, half of the energy and time spent on your resume should be focused on your accomplishments. To write good accomplishments, you need to think of what your potential employer is thinking about (problems solved, better results, and so on) and emphasize that. If you go through 20 resumes of your peers, you'll certainly find great accomplishments that you could adapt on your resume. I truly believe that is time well spent.

Many More Accomplishments, Just for You

However, I've already done that research... The 5 ideas above are just a glimpse of the full list of accomplishments I've assembled. If you'd like that well-rounded, unique list of real-world civil engineer accomplishments, for just a few dollars, check out our e-book, Civil Engineer Resume Hacking, on Amazon. You can read it even if you don't have a Kindle device.