Writing a good CV is a vital part of getting an interview for a job as an environmental engineer. It is the foot in the door that ensures a candidate captures the attention of an employer enough to secure a face-to-face meeting where candidates can demonstrate how suitable they are for the role. You only get one chance at a first impression, so make it count.

Whilst a CV needs to stand out, it needs to be for the right reasons. Gimmicks, such as unusual ink colours or lots of pictures, are unlikely to have the desired effect, so it is worth spending time to compile the perfect CV, and then tailor it for each employer. In those few pages the employer has to see all the necessary signs that a candidate has the experience, education, skills and personal attributes they are looking for, in order to offer an interview.

Tailor each CV to the company and role.

CV is an abbreviation for curriculum vitae, and is a document that summarises an applicant’s career and experience. Each application requires a CV to be tailored specifically for it. When similar roles are being applied for the necessary tweaks may be small, but each employer will be looking for slightly different things, and it is worth taking the time to research the role and the company involved to pinpoint exactly what they are looking for.

A CV will normally start with a summary of personal data such as name, address and contact details, including an email address. This is followed with either work or educational experience. For anyone who is recently out of education with little work experience, it is best to start with qualifications, the most recent first, but those with a few years of work experience should list their current and historic jobs first.

The list of roles should begin with the most current, and include dates of employment followed by a short paragraph explaining the role and, more importantly, the relevant skills it demonstrates. If a role was not in environmental engineering, it is probable that there are relevant transferable skills, such as management experience, or experience of working with a range of different employees.

Keep it relevant and positive.

It is important to highlight key successes that are relevant. For example: “I spent three years developing a model to minimise the impact of a new motorway bypass, which was awarded an environmental prize for its effectiveness.” It is possible that the person reading the CV may not have the same technical knowledge as the candidate, so focus on the skills and experience that make you the right person for the job.

Make sure other relevant work-related experiences, such as volunteer roles are also listed, again with the relevant skills that they demonstrate, for example if you were a volunteer tutor at a local college lecturing young students on the benefits of a career in engineering. Any relevant training courses and competencies should be listed under education.

It is not necessary to list the contact details of any referees at this point.

Spell check and grammar check CVs and covering letters, and keep filed copes so that when an interview does occur, the relevant documents can be found easily.