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CEng Application Length
Question
In the context of a CEng application, from the guidance notes on page 2, it states "The requirement is not to exceed a total of 12 pages for the whole application when printed."

When I went to the review section, the accountability diagram, copies of my certificates and other 'supporting document' evidence such as 'Assessment Summary' were not present in the application pdf when I clicked 'Download Application'. Are these items considered separate? I would have thought 'full application' included those documents too. I see a total of 5 pages in the downloaded document that seems to cover everything else (employment history etc).

Is the 12 page figure the number of pages that should be present when I click the 'Download Application' in the review section, or does it also include certificates, accountability diagram etc? Are the supporting documents sent separately?

Sorry if it's been asked before, but it also says "You should aim to provide roughly 3000 characters as it is unlikely that less will adequately demonstrate your relevant experience."

For most past employment entries I have 3000 or thereabouts. However for my current and primary role which demonstrates the most, I have currently 7000 which is over double the amount requested. Is this excessive to the extent that it would be marked down?
13 Replies
Daniel,

The guidance generally given is that the narrative part of your application should be no more than eight pages, so four pages left for the other details (education, professional services, training, etc.)

If you have 3000 words for past employment and 7000 words for your current employment then this sounds as if it is too much. I don't think the '12 page limit' is a hard and fast rule in that going marginally over will not instantly result in a rejection but it sounds like what you have is significantly over. Remember that communication is one of the competences so inability to put down your evidence concisely may count against you.

 
Hi Guys

The reason for introducing the limit in the first place was because before, we were being inundated with applications that were extremely large, difficult to deal with, and very time consuming for the Assessment and Interview panels to deal with. My record was 168 pages which included (if I'd had the printing facilities) A0 and A1 drawings and full blown specification for the electrical services on a new build facility - in no way could all of it have been the candidates own work - I even recognised some of the preliminary clauses in his spec from projects I had worked on - way back e.g: - "all material shall be new and unused..." etc. (word perfect) I remember joking with Donna at the Face to Face meeting, where we dealt with around 30 applications, that I had submitted a price for the job and was expecting the order any day.

We don't want War and Peace just an explanation of who the candidate is, what they do and how they do it - to show they meet the 17 competences required, if that goes over the limit a bit, I doubt anybody is going to get upset but if a PRA is involved they should have guided the candidate to do a bit of editing.

Good luck and stay safe - please

Regards Jim W
Kathryn Bain
385 Posts
The supporting documents aren't part of the page limit requirement, so this hopefully helps with your page limits. 
Hello Daniel,

I had this exact confusion myself when I did my application. I'm not sure how it looks in the new career manager but in the previous version, when I downloaded a pdf copy of my application using the Preview Draft function it resulted in the following:
  • Personal Information
  • Membership Details
  • Current Employment
  • Education
  • Career History
  • Training
  • Professional Registration Advice and Your Expertise
  • Declaration
This came to 6 pages (sides) the majority of which was of course career history with around 3.5 sides split across various boxes.

I performed this export after submission, so additionally in the pdf preview were 4 sides of comments from my supporters (one of whom wrote quite a lot) bringing the total document to 10 sides, without any supporting documents or certificates. The experience section was 1700 words using 10,000 characters. More would have just introduced waffle, at least in my case.

I think it is this export (including supporters comments, excluding supporting documents etc.) which should not go over 12 sides, but official confirmation from the IET would be great, as this question has come up before.
Andy Millar
1763 Posts
I had a vague memory that the advice was 5 pages for the employment history, but can't find that written anywhere now, maybe I was told it during PRA training? Anyway, from experience of a range of applications I'd say around 5 pages (around 2500-3000 words TOTAL) is about right. No more than two for your current employment, I've seen strong applicants do their current employment in one page.

Any more than that and you're probably describing your company and the projects you've worked on, not what you did.

As ever, PLEASE use the PRA service, we're free and friendly! Where candidates are struggling to get started I often suggest that they do just write what they think and then I can quickly "red pen" sections to give the idea of the type of text they can remove. It's often easier to start with too much and then strip it down. It's very rare that I tell candidates that their first draft is too short!

Cheers,

Andy 
 

 
Roy Bowdler
819 Posts
I have always been, relatively relaxed about application length, if the information given is relevant and value adding. In a longer application, as a reader I can focus my attention more on those aspects that I find most relevant and less on others, “speed reading” for highlights as necessary.

However, even modest amounts of densely packed text with no white space can make that approach difficult. Not being able to “see the wood for the trees” can become a problem even well within the maximum allowable length.

As the writer, you should understand that the IET Assessors may be asked to consider quite a significant number of applications in each batch that they are allocated. They will therefore potentially become fatigued and irritated by lengthy and rambling stories.

On the other hand, a brief set of bullet points, intended to catch the eye of an initial recruitment screener, is also very unlikely to make a credible case.     
 
Hi Guys

To echo what Roy has just said, I always recommend that bullet points are not used - it looks like a job description, not identifying the candidates competences. As for the text, good English dictates that the use of Paragraphs and Sentences, if used properly they make the script much easier to read and understand - each paragraph a separate subject and each sentence a sub-subject - and don't forget the old comma and other grammatical bits to make sense of what's being written. A blank line space between each paragraph just makes it look good.

Regards Jim W
Thanks to all who responded. It’s much clearer now what the intent of the limit is and what is considered reasonable. I’ll continue to work with my mentor on trimming the content down to the core.

The employment section seems to advise against bullet points. I have included some because I think it helps to break the text up a bit. I assume this is ok in practice because the intent of saying no bullet points seems to be to avoid having the employment section read like a CV/Job Application
Hi guy

My view of bullet points is that they look like a job description and not describing your competences.

Paragraphs are a better way of breaking up text - every subject deserves its own paragraph.

Regards Jim W
Andy Millar
1763 Posts
Interesting point. I just tried to make up an example where you might use a bullet list to break up the text (I was thinking of the tasks involved in day-to-day team management, but it could just as well be a technical example), but actually realised I couldn't find a way of doing it! I was just listing information which didn't really explain anything.

I was thinking of the type of thing where we see:

My responsibilities on this project included:
  • Supervising day-to-day health and safety issues
  • Signing off technical variation forms
  • Setting daily tasks for the team
  • Monitoring weekly time and cost expenditure
Yes, well, of course that's what the candidate did, it's not telling us that they knew how to do this competently. MUCH better to break these down into separate sentences so you can think about whether each statement has enough about how you did it, how you came to choose that approach, how you checked that approach worked, and possibly how you'd learned to do it in the first place, so that it actually shows the Competences. And then after you've written all that go through it again and take out everywhere where you've unnecessarily duplicated the same competence - this is much clearer to see if you've written it out as proper sentences. 

I've just thought of another common use to beware of for a slightly different reason, that is:

By using thermonuclear fusion technology in the flux capacitor I was able to:
  • Increase charge density and so reduce our turnover of electrons,
  • Reduce stock holding of neutron bombs by 53%,
  • Increase exports to New Zealand by 3% and to Mars by 256%.
This is a bit subtle but: this is listing the effect of what you've done, not directly how competent you are. It's about the company and the product, not directly about you. So actually I'd say it's too many words, and so should easily fit in just one or two readable sentences. For your interview presentation that's different, you might use this layout there on your final slide.

I don't remember seeing a really good application with bullets in, and I've seen a fair few where I've advised the candidates to take them out - and I'm someone who loves bullet lists so much that one of our clients once said "I knew it was an email from Andy because it was written in bullet points"!

It's a good point, and worth discussing here because you're not the first, and won't be the last, who hopefully this helps.

Cheers,

Andy
I get quite a few questions about the format of applications - although there seem to be fewer now that we have amalgamated the Responsibilities and Personal Achievements sections in CM that seemed to cause endless confusion on what went where.  A method that I recommend - and most of my candidates like - is to list the key responsibilities of the particular role at the start of the Responsibilities and Personal Achievement section (I think the latter might have been better in the plural - but I digress!) as bullets, but then to "tell the story" in prose, so very similar to your technique, Andy. 

So far as the length of application is concerned, I completely support the 12-page limit, although this does get a bit corrupted at times by the amount of white space that the PDF compiler creates, and I tend to counsel applicants to take this into account if they need to.  Quite a few of my applicants come in one of two flavours - either a) They produce an application that barely makes 6 pages total (one recent application had an employment section that didn't even make one page!) or b) they have trouble getting under the 12-page limit.  Unlike you, Andy, I get quite a few applications that are desperately short.  Having coached quite a few applicants through requests for further evidence of UK&U/full evidence statements, etc., (none of whom were given advice by me originally, I hasten to add!!), the page/word limits on these are quite tough and I encourage all of my applicants to make as full an application as possible, to try to avoid these requests.  I tend to advise that an Employment section for someone with an exemplifying qualification and several years of experience should span at least 4 pages, to ensure that they are providing evidence of all competencies.  For the more mature candidates with a lot of experience, I normally recommend 5-6 pages - giving an application length of around 10-11 pages depending on training details, etc.. For those without an exemplifying qualification, I suggest that they also try to include some evidence of mathematical/engineering methodologies that equate to the exemplifying level, to demonstrate their UK&U, so I expect these applications to be somewhat longer.

To those who have difficulties getting under the page limit, I have one piece of advice - remember that D competencies are aimed at demonstrating clear, concise communication!  This overlaps to something Roy said earlier.  There are few things more daunting to a reader than to see a whole page of text without a single paragraph break - I've had several of these recently and from my viewpoint, this does not give an impression of a clear communicator.
Hi Guys

Just a quick word on the "D" competences: most of this comes out at interview - if you can speak, converse and discuss in English, your presentation should sort out D1 and D2. If you do any sort of volunteering a short paragraph on how you coach the school's football team (other sports are available), get involved with STEM activities or help out in your area to ensure the elderly are being cared for in a variety of ways, will resolve D3. There no need to take up what might be valuable space needed for the technical issues.

Regards Jim W
Hi Jim,  That is a good point about non-technical voluntary work satisfying D3.  I, for one, usually think of things like STEM activities, STEM Ambassador and so on under this heading, but you are right - D competencies can be evidenced in many different ways.  I certainly agree with you that the PRI should provide plenty of D evidence, but I like to ensure that my candidates demonstrate enough competence in all of the categories to earn their right to an interview and not get mired down with full evidence statements, etc., which in my experience, cause some individuals difficulties.  No need to devote paragraphs and take up valuable space as you say, but at least demonstrate some knowledge and practice!

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