Construction Resume in Canada

#4: How to sell your project experience in an engineering or construction resume in Canada

Want to impress with your engineering or construction resume in Canada? Take the time to learn how to communicate your project experience. Outpost Recruitment founder, Ruairi Spillane, explains how.

Our last blog focused on how to build a results-focused resume for engineering and construction jobs in Canada. Given most construction and engineering roles are project-based, we wanted to focus on how to communicate your project experience to a potential employer.

It’s hard not to notice that candidates get lost in the bubble that is their workplace. Your value to future employers is reliant on your ability to step outside of this bubble. You need to clearly describe the projects you worked on and how you added value. It’s essential that you provide all the important information in your engineering or construction resume in Canada.

Our team has published a useful video guide on how to sell your project experience in an engineering or construction resume in Canada.

What does an employer need to know about each project?

  • Project Name.
  • Project Type. E.g. Commercial Building, Infrastructure, Site Services.
  • Project Location.
  • Time Period for the project.
  • Your Role on the project.
  • Scope of Project – 1-2 lines to help the reader visualize what was involved. Use metrics where possible for #floors, surface area, earthworks, concrete, etc. Numbers can be far more descriptive than words. Add project delivery method (Design Build, Design Bid Build, etc) and contract type (Construction management, fixed price / lump sum), etc).
  • Project Value – in Canadian $ only. Do not expect your hiring manage to performa currency calculations on your behalf!
  • 2-3 results/achievements (good things) that you were responsible for. Delivering the project ‘on time and on budget’ is doing your job and does not help a candidate stand out. How did you actions impact the cost, time or quality of the project?
          • E.g. Did you find ways to reduce costs , save time off the schedule, etc? Think about how your actions impacts the cost, time and quality parameters of the project. Always quantify the impact in terms of $ or %.
          • Did you find ways to improve the project margin i.e. increase scope of project or decrease the costs?
          • Did you find a more efficient way of performing a task? Quantify the savings in labour (days) or materials ($).
          • Did you spot a potential quality issue early which avoided any rework or delays?
          • Was the project successful? Why / Why not? What did you do to positively contribute?

How could this look? Here’s an example below.

PWB Shopping Centre, Calgary – Mixed-Use Residential  – $25M                                    Jan 2014 – Feb 2015

  • Worked as a Project Manager overseeing the design & build construction of a six-floor RC-frame building with three levels of underground parkade on a fixed price contract. Scope included all civil works, structural work and fit-out of 48 apartment units and eight commercial units on ground level.
  • Delivered project one week early and $500K under budget through cost savings. These were generated on formwork package and implementation of a fast-track schedule which required careful coordination of 10 sub contractors on site and 12-hour work shifts.
  • Suggested a design change to client with regard to M&E package. This helped them save 10% on mechanical installation.
  • Project delivered with a profit margin 2% over target primarily through early delivery.

The most common error we come across is candidates doing a great job in their engineering or construction resume in Canada of describing the projects they were “involved in”. But they neglect to mention any positive contributions that they have made to the projects.

Construction Resume in Canada

Great candidates make a positive impact on projects they work on. Your resume is about you, it’s not a document to sell your current / former employers’ capability. Don’t forget to talk about how you made a positive impact on each project. How did you make a difference? Ask yourself: “How did I add value to this project? How did my actions impact the cost, time and quality variables of each project?”

You must get comfortable communicating the good things you have done for previous employers. Tell short stories about problems you have encountered and solutions that you have come up with or been exposed to.

Your value to an employer goes far beyond your ability to do what you are told (duties and responsibilities). Your value to an employer is much greater when you can spot ways to improve a project. Show that you can take action to do so even if it’s not listed on your job description!

Are you struggling in your engineering or construction resume in Canada to determine your impact in each role/project? If so, think back on the main duties you perform and ask yourself these questions.

  • What is the outcome of me performing this task/duty well?
  • How does the project benefit from me performing this task/duty?
  • What would happen if I didn’t perform this task to the same standard?

Do I need a separate Project List document?

This level of information required for each project can be communicated in 5-6 lines of your resume. But if you have been involved in 10+ unique projects, then you may need to consider relocating some of the less important projects to a separate Project List document.

Your engineering or construction resume in Canada should present the highlights. A Project List is a useful document for less important projects or additional information that you still would like to communicate.

We recommend a separate project list document where you have completed an extensive list of projects (10+) and don’t have space to provide the required details for each project. Some employers expect to see a full project list so it’s no harm to have one at hand.

The format of your project list should be the exact same, as highlighted above. The only exception is you can add more details on duties / responsibilities in the Project List document given you have more space. Adding pictures is also a useful way to help the reader visualize each project.

Take action now!

To put these principles into effect, simply list your projects and note 2-3 of the best things you did on each project.

Think about what actions you took to create each positive outcome. Then, describe the Situation/Problem and finally quantify the Result/Achievement as per the formula on the previous blog.

Describing the good things you have achieved on each project can be quite satisfying. Start being proud of what you have achieved in your career and be excited to communicate it in your resume!

Our next blog entry will focus on managing your job search.


Blogs in this series

About Outpost Recruitment

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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.