The first impression potential employers have of you will normally be your CV and covering letter, or application form, so it’s vital that you make those first moments count. How can you craft targeted documents that get you that all-important interview?

Let’s start with the CV. Typically, there might be the following sections to a CV, over a maximum of two pages;

Person information

Name, address and contact details. Make sure your email address is a sensible one; set up a more appropriate one if not.


The most recent qualifications first, including any vocational qualifications. For example, if you have achieved Chartered Engineer status, or completed the NEBOSH National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety. Highlight relevant modules in degree level qualifications; for example a Solid Mechanics module in your maths degree completed prior to moving into engineering.


Jobs with dates, noting key achievements and responsibilities that make you right for the specific role and company. For example, mention if you were responsible for the RAMS (risk assessments and method statements) on a previous job, or if you managed fire safety and achieved a zero incident rate. Ensure that you tailor the content to show you meet the requirements in the job description; if it’s looking for project management experience, for example, list projects with language such as “Delivered seven build projects all on budget and on agreed timescales".


This is an ideal place to note other activities or experiences that are directly relevant, for example your familiarity with industry software packages, or time spent volunteering with local Scout groups helping to stimulate their interest in engineering careers.


It’s fine to put “referees available on request”, as they won’t be taken up without your agreement. Make sure you know who you are going to ask; you need your most recent or current employer, say the site foreman or chief surveyor, and possibly one academic referee if you are only a few years out of education. An external referee – such as an organiser from a volunteer group you work with – can be good, if the group is relevant to the role.

Accompany the CV with a short covering letter

Resist the urge to repeat content already in the CV and concentrate on crafting a targeted paragraph or two about why you are applying for the role, highlighting one or two key features that make you the perfect candidate. Include comments that show you understand this specific role and the company, including why you wish to work for them.

Sometimes employers, such as many public sector departments, will require you to complete their own application form, which is likely to contain the sections above as well as targeted questions to shed light on your specific suitability for a particular role. For example, you might be asked to demonstrate how you dealt with a specific conflict between employees on site, or explain why you wish to work for the brand in question. Make sure you answer all questions, avoiding clichés, and sticking to any given word counts. Spell check everything, and keep your own copy for reference.

Potential employers will only spend a few seconds glancing over your documents before deciding whether to investigate what you have to offer; make sure every second counts.

At Randstad CP&E, we always offer help with a CV and advice on how to fill in an application form. We have a vast experience in getting applicants into good engineering and construction roles, and often have good relationships with the employers themselves. We can also advise you on how to craft an appropriate covering letter where relevant, to maximise the chance of your application being read, and you getting that all important interview.