How To Write Your ICE Professional Review Report
It’s that time of year again – applications for the ICE Professional Reviews have opened. Once your application is in, the next step is to prepare your Professional Review report. If you’re searching for an ICE Professional Review report example, the bad news is that there really isn’t a set layout – as every engineer’s experience and projects are different, so are their reports. However, the good news is that reports from successful candidates often have similar characteristics – or, as someone famous once said, success leaves clues. Here’s how you can write a good Professional Review report that will give you a solid foundation for your review.
Rule Number One
The first rule – and I mention this often – is to put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes. Be absolutely clear about what you are trying to demonstrate and think about the questions you would ask if you were in their role. I’ve talked about this in other posts, but the key to writing a good report that will help you pass your ICE Review is making it easy for the reviewer to say that you fulfill the criteria.
Your brief for this report is to demonstrate the required attributes for the level you are applying for. If you think you are showing that you've achieved the understanding required for the Management and Leadership attribute, then say so. Using phrasing such as, “I took a lead role by managing a team of four engineers to deliver the Winterfell Bypass project,” shows your reviewer that you’re focussing on your leadership skills and clearly links back to attribute 3C.
If you aren’t clear about which attribute you are discussing, you leave your reviewer trying to guess if you’ve fulfilled the criteria or not, when instead you want to fill them with confidence that you’re ready to be professionally qualified. If you aren’t sure whether you should be including a sentence or part of your project, use this rule as a guide – does what I’m writing support one of the attributes and is it clear which one I’m demonstrating? If not, think about another way you can rewrite it so that it does support an attribute or consider removing it.
Finally, think about how you need to expand that statement by considering what questions your reviewer would ask. How did you manage the team – did you set milestones or have regular meetings? How did you monitor progress and keep the team on track? Did you provide technical guidance? If you aren’t sure, ask yourself what feedback you would give if this was a colleague’s report instead of your own.
Give Yourself Enough Time
The current guidance from the ICE is that your Professional Review report needs to be submitted at least 15 days before your review date, but always check the latest Professional Review Guidance to be sure. That means you have between 7–9 weeks to write your report if you have an earlier review date and you haven’t started it before your application is submitted.
This sounds like a lot of time, but you’ll want to factor in some time for your Delegated Engineer (DE) or Supervising Civil Engineer (SCE) to review it and provide any feedback, as well as however long you’ll need to make any changes. DEs and SCEs are busy people and can’t read your report at the drop of a hat – nor is it respectful to expect them to – so this can take longer than you might think.
You also need to include a two-page CV with your Professional Review report. While this doesn’t count towards the 5,000-word limit, writing a CV takes time and can be one of the more difficult sections to write. You’ll need to identify your experience (which can be hard if you can’t remember everything you’ve done over the years), distil it down to the most important projects, find out the cost of each project – which, again, may not be easy if it was some time ago – and briefly describe your role and responsibilities. Condensing everything into two pages can be harder than it sounds, so don’t underestimate the time you need for this part of the report.
Of course, the ideal scenario is that you’ve been working on your Professional Review report before your application is submitted, but – let’s be real – this isn’t always easy to do. If you’re in the lucky position of reading this before you’ve applied, consider starting early. And if you’re not, it’s completely doable if you put a plan in place and stick to it.
The I’s Have It
The entire professional qualification process is all about talking about yourself. For many of us, this is not an easy task. This is especially true as we’ve been trained not to write this way – academic and typical professional or business reports are usually written in third person. For this report, you’ll need to get used to focussing on you, you, you.
Yes, it’s boring, repetitive and probably uncomfortable, but if you write your objectives like a site diary, your reviewer will never know what activities you did and what your colleagues did. Remember Rule Number One? That’s why you should be using “I” wherever possible – your report should be plastered in it. It’s strange at first, but necessary in order to demonstrate what you have achieved. Try to enjoy it – this is the one time you can talk all about yourself without feeling guilty or arrogant.
Use Active Voice
Similar to the previous point, you want to be using active instead of passive voice wherever possible. If you’re not sure what the difference is, here’s an example:
Passive voice: AutoCAD Civil 3D was used for modelling the structure.
Active Voice: I used AutoCAD Civil 3D to model the structure.
If you follow the advice of using “I” all the time, you’re likely using active voice, but make sure you scan your report and update any passive voice sentences once your report is finished. A free tool like Grammarly can also help you identify where you’re using passive instead of active voice (though beware, it isn't always correct and will push you towards using American spellings.)
Always make sure you describe exactly what you did or what you achieved. In most projects, there is almost always something positive: a new skill you learned, a new situation you managed, or maybe the first time your trialled or worked with a new product or material.
That said, don’t try to pass off others’ work as your own. Everyone has a boss, and the reviewers know you aren’t single-handedly delivering Crossrail – and they don’t expect you to, either. You don’t need to sound like you handled everything on the project, particularly if it’s a large job. Take credit for what you did but don’t embellish – they will probably catch you out.
Don’t Hide Mistakes
Not every project goes to plan – and that’s ok. There’s no need to gloss over the things that went awry. Instead, describe what you learned from the experience and how you brought the project back on track. You can also describe what you would do or now do differently on new projects as a result of this experience.
Remember, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is more than just attending a lunchtime learning event. Every project you work on presents you with opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills and become a better engineer.
The best evidence of what you achieved is by using numerical facts rather than subjective opinions. For example, which of these statements sounds more impressive and credible:
The project went well and was completed early and under budget, or
I delivered a project three weeks early and 10% under budget.
The first statement is a subjective opinion. How are you measuring what “well” or “not well” is? How early was the project finished? (Yes, I’m talking about Rule Number One again.) But if you put facts in that you can evidence in your Appendices if needed, then you’re in a good place should you get any questions during the review.
Pass Your ICE Professional Review
If you want to successfully pass your ICE Professional Review, then a good report is your foundation. If you can fully evidence all the attributes by following these ICE report writing tips, you’ll set yourself up for the best chance of success. I wish you the best of luck!
Report written and ready for your review day? I’ve also put together some advice for preparing for the ICE Professional Review day. And if you pass – which, of course, you will – I’ve also shared my thoughts on three areas to focus on developing in order to progress your career once you’re professionally qualified.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Tanya – a Chartered Civil Engineer now working as an engineering and construction copywriter. Having established and run professional development groups as well as acting as both a Delegated Engineer (DE) and Supervising Civil Engineer (SCE) for engineers looking to get professionally qualified, I’m keen on sharing knowledge and helping others achieve their goals.
I currently do not offer one-to-one mentoring due to my work commitments. However, if you’re looking for a mentor to help with your Initial Professional Development (IPD) or career goals, take a look at the ICE Mentoring website where you can find a professional member who can give you advice and guidance.