Ultimate Guide to writing  a job-winning Civil Engineering CV

Posted on 20 March 2024

Whether you're looking for your first civil engineering job or looking for a change of scenery - creating a winning CV is step one in the process!

A well-written CV showcasing your skills and experience increases your chances of a recruiter or employer being able to pick you out of the crowd. There's a high demand for skilled civil engineers in the UK, but there's also some great competition - ensuring you have a great CV significantly increases your chances of securing an interview.

Don't believe us? Just take a look at some of these statistics

- You have 6-8 seconds to grab an employer's attention in a CV.(Forbes)

- 41% of employers look for skills on a CV first.(McKinsey)

- 55% of employers say that the biggest mistake job seekers make on their application is not tailoring their CV to the specific job they are applying for. (Glassdoor)

- 83% of employers say they're more likely to hire a candidate who has a well-formatted CV. (Jobvite)

- 91% of employers love seeing soft skills on CVs.(Glassdoor)

So what makes a job-winning civil engineering CV?

Keep reading to find out...

What to include in your CV

Personal Details

At the very top of your CV, you should include basic personal details. Include your name, contact details, phone number and email address. A link to your LinkedIn profile can also be helpful if your profile positively showcases your experiences, training, and connections in the industry.

Personal Statement

Next, include a short paragraph explaining why you fit the role, your best or most recent experiences, a couple of your career highlights, and relevant skills.

Technical Skills

It's essential to list technical skills and knowledge relevant to the role. Ensure to match as many required skills in the job description as possible.

TOP TIP: If there are any skills or experiences mentioned in the job spec that you don't have, try to identify similar or transferrable skills that would be useful to the role.

Work Experience

This is where you can show that you've worked in similar positions. Start from the most recent and work backwards. Try to focus on measurable achievements over responsibilities in this section.

Include examples from all relevant work experience, either full-time or part-time. If you're new to the industry, did you participate in an internship or any other relevant experience?

Relevant education, training and awards

This section includes relevant qualifications through further education or additional study. Industry certifications that are relevant to the role also qualify. If you're new to the industry or are lacking in this section, consider your educational qualifications in relevant science, maths, and English.

Tailor Your CV

You need to make sure you tailor every CV and application you submit. Firing off a generic CV won’t do it, recruiters can spot this from a mile away. Be sure to read the job description, research the company and really understand what it is that the recruiter is looking for.

This way you can better tailor your personal statement, experience and skills to reflect the job role and company values. This will make your CV stand out and boost your chances of landing the role.

Pay attention to the visual design and formatting of your CV

A common skill of civil engineers is good organisation skills, attention to detail, and accuracy. If your CV isn't formatted well and is difficult to read, this is a red flag for these critical soft skills.

Recruiters expect a civil engineering CV to reflect the characteristics of a civil engineer. So, it needs to be concise, straightforward and structured. With that in mind, we would advise against using colour, photos or logos as these could distract away from your valued skills and experience.

  1. Ensure your CV follows a simple format.

  2. Use consistent fonts and apply headers where possible.

  3. Ensure you are submitting your CV in the format requested by the recruiter (if applicable).

Highlight experiences and achievements on projects

Recruiters could read hundreds of CVs a day (once they pass the software mentioned above!), and with most candidates having similar qualifications and experience, you'll need to find ways to stand out.

This is where your previous projects come into play, consider projects you've worked on and how your contribution met or exceeded targets. Think of what you achieved and how, rather than simply listing tasks you performed. 

Some ideas to include:

  • Did your work result in a cost-saving or any other achievement?

  • Did you implement something new or innovative?

  • Did your work achieve impressive results, such as revenue or turnaround time?

Include Soft-Skills

Hard skills are gained through training or work, these are the practical things you can do. Soft skills are more about who you are and are equally important to highlight on a CV.

Soft Skills our Clients often look for: 

1. Communication Communication with colleagues, internal and external stakeholders, or clients is vital in any industry. With the added technical and safety issues that civil engineering roles typically require, conveying information well is a non negotiable skill to have.

TOP TIP: Your whole CV should be written and formatted to demonstrate this soft skill.

2. Creative thinking and problem-solving  The ability to think creatively and critically are key skills within the civil engineering industry. Technical projects often require thinking of new ideas to solve issues or suggesting new techniques to fix a problem.

Employers value those who can identify problems and come up with multiple ways to solve them quickly and on budget.

TOP TIP: Your CV should include examples of when you have shown the ability to solve problems creatively.

3. Teamwork – Being able to work in a team is a combination of communication, technical and organisational skills. Employers are looking for people who are as committed to achieving team goals and building a collaborative environment.

4. Organisation skills  Some organisational skills, such as project planning or managing systems, can be considered technical. But employers are also looking for 'soft' organisational skills, which indicate if a person can complete their job with minimal support.

These skills include setting realistic goals, planning and prioritising tasks, and ensuring you can identify limits in your workload. Time management, including punctuality, reassures employers that you are reliable.

5. Leadership – While leadership might be considered a skill only applicable to management roles, taking responsibility and supporting others is an essential soft skill for a civil engineer. Demonstrating leadership might be spearheading a new idea, taking responsibility for an initiative, or organising work or on behalf of a colleague and providing training.

Leadership is a strong indicator of an individual who can support others when needed. It is a critical skill for individuals looking to advance their careers, move up into management, and demonstrate a broader understanding of company strategy.

TOP TIP: Try to include examples of leadership skills or experience in your CV, even if your role does not involve supervising others.

6. Adaptability Adapting to new processes and technology is highly desirable to an employer. It's important that civil engineers actively keep their skills and knowledge up to date, especially in industries where technology changes rapidly.

It's also just as important to accept when an ageing process or technique is no longer working. Being stuck in old, inefficient ways of working slows down a team and a project.

TOP TIP: Aim to show in your CV that you are adaptable and look for opportunities to innovate.

Support from HSQ Recruitment

At HSQ Recruitment, our dedicated team of experienced consultants are here to help and provide advice on how to make your CV work for you. When it comes to job hunting, your CV is paramount. Get it right, and you’ll have an interview in no time, but get it wrong, and it may take longer to secure the right job for you.

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