Ontario Experience Record (ER) - Right Length

Page 11 from PEO’s Licensing Guide and Application for Licence tells us that we shouldn’t exceed 10 pages in length in most circumstances.  This is why I always have my clients aim for 8-10 pages when they are ready to submit.

Now 10 pages can look very different depending on the way you format your submission.  However, if you use what is given to you in the PEO template, then you should stick with what they have:

  • Font: Arial (regular)
  • Size: 10 pt
  • Line spacing: before 0 pt; after 6 pt

10 pages amount to roughly 6,000 words or 5,400 if you remove all of the PEO template words.

length of experience record

Let's make 5,400 words our target.  Now that we have a target for the number of words to aim for we need to break this down by project situations that you will be providing.

Length of Each 'Situation'

From reading and reviewing hundreds of ‘situations’ from countless aspiring engineers I have seen some that are too short, too long and those that are just right.   Allow me to show you.




This is too short:

An experience record example that is too short

You can see that we have a word count of 37.  It is impossible to explain the WWHO formula (What you’ve done, Why you’ve done it, How  you did it, and the Outcome) in 37 words.  The WWHO formula covered in an earlier post if you need to refer back.

Short examples like the one above give me the impression that the applicant didn’t do anything meaningful.  This is not where you want to find yourself.

Now Here is one that is simply ‘too long’:

An experience record example that is too long

The above 304-word project example, and the vast majority of long examples tend to have the following problems: 1) they bore the reader;   2) contain definitions and useless facts;  3) are not concise.

Remember that PEO reviewers are volunteers.  They don’t want to spend an entire weekend on your application so make it concise and specific to your contributions.  No definitions and no babble please.

Here’s an example that is ‘just right’.  

Great length for an experience record situation.

The above situation is 156 words.  After reviewing dozens experience records from aspiring engineers, I’ve found that the magic word range to properly explain one ‘situation’ is between:

  • 200 to 300 words - Application of Theory and Practical Experience.  
  • 100 to 150 words - Management of Engineering, Communications and Social Implications

The latter ‘situations’ generally lack the specific detail found in your technical descriptions, so they can be a bit shorter.  If your write-ups are shorter than the recommendations above, you might be leaving a WWHO element out.  If it is longer, try to reword to make it more concise.  

How many situations do I write?
If you agree with me and aim for 8-10 pages (or 5,400 words) and divide by 150 words (average size of one situation) we are left with 36 situations.   So you need to write 36 situations (which are employment hurdles where you solved a specific problem) and spread them out among all of your employer(s) write-ups. 

Your actions:
Review the situations you have written.   Are almost all of them between 200 to 300 or 100 to 150 words?  If not, re-read them and:

  • If they are too short ask yourself - am I missing a WWHO element? Is my How detailed enough?
  • If they are too long ask yourself - did I include definitions that are needed?  Did I ramble on too much?  Did I combine more than one idea that could be split up into another situation?  
ER hurdle

How many situations do you currently have written? If you don't have 36, write out a list of hurdles for each of the 5 competencies (Application of Theory, Practical Experience, Management, Communications and Social Implications) and your employer(s).  Then select your top 36 and expand those out using the WWHO formula. 

Ready to get started with the complete Experience Record course?  Learn advanced techniques like how you can properly exclude certain employers from your record; or why you should focus more situations on your most current experience.
With sample experience records and a step-by-step method to writing your best draft, register for our Experience Record Rapid Submission Course.

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