Career planning & advice

Helpful tips and resources for engineering students.

Engineers Australia offers a range of career services for members – from helping you to find your first job, keeping your skills up to date and changing or ending your career.

The Career Development Centre, offers a range of online services to assist engineers, technologists, and associates at every stage of their career.

Preparing your chronological resume

The purpose of a resume is to sell your skills to a potential employer, think of it as a marketing tool rather than a report. It needs to grab the reader’s attention by demonstrating that you are qualified to do a particular job.

Download a guide to preparing your Chronological Resume

Preparing your functional resume

The difference between a standard or chronological resume and a functional one is you concentrate more on the skills learnt and experience gained, more so than the actual work undertaken, hence it is the preferred method to use if changing industries or career path. It is also used for persons with more experience or later in their career.

Download a guide to preparing your Functional Resume

Preparing your cover letter

A good cover letter can help you get a job interview by convincing an employer that you have the skills to do the job. It will also demonstrate your written communication skills.

Download an example of a cover letter

Engineering Skills Matrix

A table that matches personnel, or other resources, with desired skills to provide views of the need for additional development, training or the acquisition of new resources.

Download a Skills Matrix template

Career Planing

Outline of how to develop a career plan — regardless of where you are in your engineering career.

Career Development Guide

Download the Career Development Guide

Selecting referees

Referees are used by employers to check your suitability for a position and to verify your previous employment.

Who should I choose?

You should choose people who are in a position to comment on your skills, experience and achievements. Depending on how long you have been working for at least one of your referees should be someone to whom you’ve directly reported.

Always ask permission to nominate someone as a referee first. (Previous employers / managers are not obliged to provide you with a reference). Referees should be people who will support your application. If you have any doubts, ask most people will be honest if they feel they can’t support you.

Ensure you have up to date contact details for your referees including current job title, telephone numbers and email address, nothing is more frustrating for a prospective employer as well as showing a lack of attention to detail.

How many should I choose?

For new graduates, two is the minimum number of professional referees recommended. As you obtain more work experience you should develop a pool of around 5-6. This gives employers a choice in who they speak to, and also gives you a fallback if one of your referees is unavailable for some reason.

Briefing Referees

  • Ensure they have an up to date copy of your resume.
  • Let them know in advance when they are likely to be contacted and by whom. This is particularly important if you have nominated a university lecturer or somebody else who might be a referee for a lot of people. Tell them what you learnt about the position at the interview. Remind them about relevant bits of your work experience.
  • Notify them when you’ve been successful.


  • Don’t give out the names of your referees until asked. This gives you the opportunity to brief them first.
  • Only allow reference checking after you’ve had an interview for a position and you know you are on the shortlist and you’re interested in the position.

Migrant Engineer Guide

Practical notes on how to increase your chances of getting your first engineering job in Australia.

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