Looking to land your first automation job?

While searching for any job is daunting for most of us, it’s that first job as a kid or young adult that’s the scariest. However if you’re a little older like I was, doing a mid-life career change into the automation field it’s a little bit different. But maybe you’re just out of college and the fear and insecurities you felt as a kid looking for your first after school job are flooding back. 

Only this time you’re looking for more money, because you’ve worked as an intern, developed real-world skills working part time and you’ve built a powerful project portfolio. You’ve also spent serious time learning at home, in a University or trade school and ultimately you’re looking to level up, into a professional automation position.

Well that means you’re going to have to build a professional resume. 

Now I not talking about a resume your sister’s friend who took English in college wrote for you. Not at all, I’m talking about the kind of resume a small town bank president would use to get their job, a six figure resume.

Now just to be clear; if you have No experience, No college degree, No intern experience, No trade school certificate and No portfolio to speak of then ultimately there is nothing this article can do for you.

We suggest that you go get something to build a strong resume on, because  it’s too early for you to be thinking about getting hired. To start with you have to bring something to the table, and then and only then can you begin to build your career.

This article is for those who have some knowledge, some education or certification and some kind of portfolio to speak of.

But in today’s world even all that won’t guarantee you the job you want, because there is a lot of competition, which means sending hundreds of resumes, and doing dozens of pre-screen interview calls and traveling for several on-site meetings and possibly waiting months for a decision that may or may not land in a great job.

In addition, you’re going to be looking to find a company who can see your limited experience and be willing to take a chance on you. To hire you and complete your training in the controls world.

With that being said, there are several things you can do to give yourself an edge, and some of those things have to do with your resume, so let’s get started.

Your resume should include;

  • Summary – do not use a single resume for every job opportunity from engineer, to technician to sales. Each of those jobs I’ve listed are unique, while you may indeed be able to perform well in all of them, they each require a focused resume, write different resumes for each and focus on the specific job you want. Start by writing a career summary, describe your interest and experience in the specific job you’re applying for.
  • Gaps in History –almost no one has a perfect work history so don’t worry about the gaps in yours. Instead be able to explain those gaps, for example you could explain that you got laid off and decided to work on a few contract opportunities for the 3 month gap you had in between jobs. Than be willing to show them your work and references.
  • Keywords – yes, you are going to have to make sure you use some key words in your resume. For example I made sure I listed all the different PLC platforms and languages I am able to program in to include hardware brand names like; Allen Bradley, Siemens Schneider, Automation Direct etc. Also include equipment you’ve programmed like conveyors, not just conveyors but the brand name of the conveyors you’ve worked on or programmed. Recruiters and HR managers review thousands of resumes in a years’ time, they have learned to scan for keywords, so make their work easier.
  • Social Media – yes, I believe in listing all my social media property for them to review. In today’s world you are going to be scrutinized via your community for endorsements on LinkedIn, group and professional affiliations as well as your content on Facebook and Twitter size following even if you don’t like it. There really is no thing such as privacy, your life is on display on the networks, so make sure you only post public stuff no one would find objectionable.
  • Contract Work – if you’ve done any contract work on the side you should list it, and don’t be afraid to show your experience. It goes to show them that in-between gaps and as a part time gig you have been busy growing your skills. In addition you can use that experience to demonstrate your personal initiative, communications skills and leadership experience on projects. Be prepared to showcase email communication if your client doesn’t mind, and the work you’ve put in your portfolio.
  • Volunteer Work – again in today’s world we all need to give a little back, it goes to show your social conscience. If you’ve done any work at all, maybe in your local church, the YMCA, your kids school band or even as a coach on a little league baseball team. You want to demonstrate that you have a mature and well-rounded personality, and understand the concept of gratitude.
  • References – I list references on my resume but only if they are industry leaders, are directors, or C-suite title holders. If you’re starting out you likely haven’t built up a strong reference library, but not to worry. You just need to list solid references, because they are likely going to contact them. Be sure to prep your references about your new job search and how they can best help you. Prep them by helping them craft a reference, for example a supervisor may know about your ability to manage multiple projects, and another may know you for your ability to work long and stressful hours.
  • Portfolio – While working and going to school or taking an online automation training course, I hope you have taken the time to build a portfolio. And it’s these projects you can add to your resume, for instance I did a large complex conveyor project at night after work while working for a company that took me many months to complete. I showcased that project, I listed that I developed the drawings, the HMI and the PLC program. In addition I listed a web address where they could learn more about me and the projects I’ve compiled in my online portfolio


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Some Final Tips

Keep in mind that recruiters and HR manager’s only take a minute on average statistically to review your resume, so it’s highly important to create a great first impression.

Also, being new it’s important to remain honest about your experience and skills, because statistically 75% of your competitors are going to lie and get caught.

Review your completed resume for grammatical errors as 77% of your competition wont.

Create a single page resume because many decision makers don’t like multiple page resumes, so keep it simple.

In the end if you have any questions, go to our contact page and feel free to reach out to me and I will try to help.