Engineering and construction jobs in Canada

#3: How to build a results-focused resume for engineering and construction jobs in Canada

Focus on demonstrating quantifiable results if you want to impress hiring managers for engineering and construction jobs in Canada. Outpost Recruitment founder, Ruairi Spillane, explains how.

Our previous post, How to write a resume for construction and engineering jobs in Canada, highlighted the format that your killer resume should take.

The biggest weakness we come across when we review resumes is that they fail to answer one crucial question: Are you good at your job? That’s how I start the conversation about resume improvements normally. I politely ask the candidate to show me any evidence in their resume that they are good at their job. Most candidates do a fantastic job of describing their company, their projects, their duties and responsibilities. But there’s often nothing about their own performance in their job. Critical error!

This blog will focus on what format your Work Experience should take. It will explain how to focus on results-focused content to help you find engineering and construction jobs in Canada.

Work Experience

For each employer list your details in following format.

Role                  Company, Location                  Start / End Months (e.g. Jan 2012 – Jan 2014).
*Company is a general contractor focused on commercial buildings up to $10M.

*If the company is not well known to a future employer then add a brief line about the company.

  • Do not bore potential employers with all of all of your duties at previous jobs. For example, the duties of a Project Manager will be pretty similar in all engineering and construction jobs in Canada and across the world. This means any potential employer will already be familiar with the duties. Focus on giving quantifiable results/achievements, which speak to your performance in the role. What positive results did you have in each project/role?
  • Prepare this section by jotting down general or project-specific results achievements from each role. Ask yourself: what were the best things you achieved in each role? What stories can I communicate to display how good I am at my job? Think of 2-3 examples minimum for each role/project.
  • Once you have a result/achievement, then build each point by highlighting the specific problem (or situation) you encountered, actions taken (by you), and results accomplished (quantify the outcome).
  • Avoid things that aren’t achievements. For example, “completing a project on time and within budget” is your job! It may, however, be an achievement if other factors caused significant delays and you were able to bring the project back on schedule.

Formula

Study the formula below. This is how you create a link between your actions and business results that hiring managers for engineering and construction jobs in Canada care about. All candidates can talk about their actions but the crucial step is linking their actions to quantifiable business results. The key business driver for all firms is profit. The goal is to deliver quality work while increasing profit margins, so you need to speak to this goal. What are the parameters that impact each project?

  • Cost. Did you find ways to reduce the costs of delivering the projects (e.g. labour, materials, design change, early identification of a potential problem, etc)?
  • Time. Did you find ways to improve efficiency (e.g. better process, a creative way to fast track the schedule).
  • Quality. Did you find ways to avoid a quality issue, enhance the standard of work delivered, or improve relationships with the client?

Your future employer cares about making money so show them how you understand the commercial side of their business. Explore the impact of your performing your job well. Quantify the results/outcome for the project in terms of how it impacted the variables above, or the bottom line (profit).

Problem/Situation                  >>                  Action taken                  >>                  Results/Achievement.

Let’s use an example to help understand the components. A Project Manager outlines that his best achievement on a particular project was to beat the budgeted profit margin (8%) by 2%.

Problem/Situation — Why? Outline the context of the problem or situation.
Handed a construction project to deliver on time and within budget (basic requirements of your job).

Action Taken — What? This is where you feature in the story. What actions did you take to solve the problem/situation?
Analyzed the preliminary schedule and estimates. Identified various opportunities to create further savings in labour and materials with specific trades during construction.

Construction jobs in CanadaResult/Achievement — What was the impact of you performing your job well. Think cost, time and quality as these are the key parameters of any project. Always quantify the outcome, where possible.
Beat the targeted profit margin by 2%.

How would this look on a resume?

Successfully delivered an additional 2% profit margin over budgeted rate (8%) through identifying further cost savings on concrete and mechanical sub-trades.

Let it at that. You don’t need to tell the full story but you know you will be asked about this in an interview as it’s eye-catching and it shows you have a business mind. This will appeal to anyone hiring for engineering and construction jobs in Canada

Note that you don’t need to combine these three parts in order. It’s often more eye-catching to lead with the result/achievement and then provide context afterwards but you can vary the way you present information.

Always think “How did I impact cost, time and quality parameters of a project?” as that’s how the person interviewing you will think!

Our next blog, ‘How to sell your project experience to future employers’,  deals specifically with how to arrange your projects and whether you need to have a separate project list document.

Ruairi.

Blogs in this series

Find engineering and construction jobs in Canada with Outpost Recruitment

Register with Outpost Recruitment and we’ll send you a free resume template you can use for your job search. If you have registered previously and require the resume template, drop us an email at ruairi@outpostrecruitment.com.

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Outpost Recruitment is a boutique agency that works with Canada’s leading construction and engineering companies. To learn more or register as a candidate, explore our website.

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At our sister company, Moving2Canada, we developed a resume-writing service to help those who need additional guidance beyond the free advice and templates provided. Visit the Moving2Canada Resume Service to receive an evaluation.

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